In an interview in Men’s Journal, Jimmy Buffett reminisces on his good friend, the late Jim Harrison.
On Sunday Jim Harrison, the brash, uncompromising author of more than 30 books passed away while writing at his cabin in Patagonia, Arizona. Lifelong friend Jimmy Buffett, who first met Harrison in the 1970s, remembers the good times.
On Hearing of His Death
The first thing that I did when I learned that he died, I went out and jumped on my paddleboard and paddled out to jump in the water — just started swimming around. I had to go jump in the water to try to make sense of it all. When something like that happens, you just start thinking about so much, because we did so much together, you know. You’re just hoping that you can remember the best things about somebody that good.
On the Making of the Documentary Tarpon
There are so many funny things we did that people never knew about. One time, we worked on this Tarpon movie together, a fishing documentary from the ‘70s. Basically, we had no fucking idea what we were doing at the time, starting with the script. [Director] Guy de la Valdene had all the money and sent a crew that was all French. I speak French now, but I didn’t at the time, so there was a huge communication issue. So we’re in the Keys and taking out boats with [poet] Richard Brautigan and [novelist] Tom McGuane. It really captured the Key West of the ‘70s. It’s sort of a treasure today.
But we didn’t really get paid for it. I wrote the music and Harrison was going to do the narration. And so, they said they’d give us a ticket and we could live at Guy’s family’s castle on the outskirts of Paris, and we’d work in town. So I told Guy, I said, “Don’t call me before you’re down to, like, six hours of footage, because I really can’t do anything until it’s down to that.” When we arrive, the house looks like a castle or something out of a movie, with a boat and everything. Jim had to go in earlier than us to work on narration, and came back out to the castle in the afternoon and he went, “Jesus Christ, you’re not going to believe this.” And I said, “What?” And he said, “Well they got it wrong, they don’t speak fucking English. They thought you said 60 hours!” And I went, “What?!” He said, “Yeah, they said, ‘Jimmy said call us when we’re down to 60 hours.’ ” And I went, “Holy shit.”
I asked Buffett, why are you doing Margaritaville TV? You’ve been airing your concerts live on Radio Margaritaville on SiriusXM for the past 14 years. Now that you’re adding video, aren’t you giving away the milk and the cow for free now?
“It is a logical step,” he said. “I like technology. I think there’s a lot of people out there who would like to see our show but can’t. They might be in secondary markets, or they don’t want to put up with the hassle of coming to a show.”
Buffett has been doing fewer tours, with fewer shows in fewer cities in recent years. Which means fewer people get to see the concert in person.
“I didn’t know it was going to last this long, at this pace. If you do the math, we’re only doing about 20 shows this year. I still like doing it, but I’m also 67 years old. I’ve had a good run. I’ve got a lot of things that I want to do that don’t involve me being on the road. With Margaritaville TV, fans can watch the show now.”
Buffett isn’t worried that people may stay home and watch Margaritaville TV instead of buying tickets and coming to his concerts.
“Tonight’s show is on TV. But you still see people scalping tickets in the parking lot. It’s the law of supply and demand. There’s still a lot of demand for our shows.”
Jimmy Buffett is in Hawaii for a couple of shows and in an interview with the Star-Advertiser he reveals his next big project:
Buffett called in from an undisclosed location on Oahu as he was preparing for his Saturday concert here at the Waikiki Shell, relaxing for a few days.
» NEXT BIG PROJECT: A “Margaritaville” Internet TV channel that will allow thousands of his fans to watch his shows in real time on their computers. He already has a “Radio Margaritaville” following. Though he’ll turn 67 on Christmas Day, he said he’s a techie and loves social media.
Buffett hopes to go online in May; there will not only be concert broadcasts but “reality TV” stories of his and adventures. Check margaritaville.com.
In the interview, Jimmy squashed the idea of retiring any time soon:
A lot of people look at Jimmy Buffett and think “That’s what I want to do when I retire,” but it doesn’t seem like you’re looking to retire from being Jimmy Buffett.
You know, Willie Nelson came out maybe a month ago and played a club in Montauk. When I was a struggling songwriter in Nashville, Willie was one of the few people who cut a few of my songs. We played a few songs; I wanted to see what 80 looked like on stage, because I’m 66.
And we were talking about it, and Mickey Raphael, who’s played with him forever and who I’ve known forever, told me a story about how last year the band had a big meeting with Willie on the bus where they asked, “Look, you’re gonna be 80 here, and we’re wondering what we’ll be doing if you’re thinking about retiring.” And Willie looked at them and he said “From what?” [laughs] I got a license to carry marijuana, we’re playing music and traveling and seeing the country, the kids are grown and happy. Retire from what? And if that applies to Willie it sure as hell applies to me, because I’m still having a good time, I still enjoy the creative aspect I’m a junkie for applause. As long as I feel that then I’ll stay there.