The featured photo is a screenshot of a photo I took in Key West, Florida, over Labor Day weekend in 2010.
I was pretty surprised the other day to read about Jimmy Buffett’s passing. I didn’t know that Jimmy had been ill. I get the sense a lot of regular people didn’t know he’d been ailing, although the singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop had posted on Facebook that he had a friend who was dying and he was going to pay him a last visit. Someone asked Stephen, who is very engaging on Facebook, if it had been Jimmy he’d gone to see. He confirmed that he did visit him on Friday and sang him a song, but he also had another friend (it turned out to be Gary Wright, of Dream Weaver fame, who died yesterday morning at age 80) who was dying that he planned to go see. Sir Paul McCartney also reportedly visited Mr. Buffett and sang for him one last time.
We sure have lost a lot of music legends this year. It’s reminding me a bit of 2016, when a whole host of amazing performers passed away in a short period of time. As a music fan, it’s sad for me, but I imagine it’s worse for those who know these luminaries in person, especially if they’re around the same age.
But yes… lots of great singers from my growing up years are moving on to the next big thing, whatever it is. I’ve been reading so many tributes to Jimmy Buffett, some from fellow celebrities who knew and loved him personally, and some friend my friends who loved him from afar. I have quite a few friends who were devoted Parrotheads and were genuinely distraught at the news that Jimmy Buffett’s rare skin cancer (Merkel cell) had turned into lymphoma. In Gloucester, Virginia, where there are many boats and people are decidedly southern, Buffett’s music was a natural soundtrack.
I always enjoyed Jimmy’s music, although I never managed to make it to any of his shows. I did have the chance to go a few times, but I think I was overwhelmed by the idea of so many people partying when I’m focused on the music. I’m not one for big crowds. However, so many of my friends went to his concerts and had a marvelous time. My college suitemate was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which is also where Jimmy was born. She happened to be there this week, as her beloved aunt who still lived there passed away. Apparently, my friend’s family lived in Jimmy’s old neighborhood and knew his family. She was really gutted to hear that Jimmy Buffett had joined her aunt on the other side.
As for me, whenever I hear Jimmy Buffett’s music, I’m reminded of being a student at Longwood University, a small school in a rural area, where, at least in the 90s, there wasn’t much to do but party. We played a lot of drinking games with Jimmy Buffett’s music in the background. It always reminds me of being in the South, which is, like it or not, my home… even if it is overrun with MAGA cretins. There was a time in my life, though, that I loved the South very much. I equated it with good times, southern drawls, laid back fashion, fattening food, fun music, and easy living. I still have those nostalgic memories, and Jimmy Buffett’s music is the perfect soundtrack for it.
Maybe it sounds strange to mention this, but when I heard of Jimmy Buffett’s skin cancer turning into lymphoma I was reminded of our last two dogs, both of whom had mast cell cancer (a type of skin cancer in dogs) that eventually turned into lymphoma. In fact, both dogs were diagnosed at this time of year– and one died just a week later on August 31, 2019, while the other got chemo for five months and died in the spring of 2023. I don’t know if skin cancer becoming lymphoma is a common thing in people, as it is in dogs, but it did cross my mind.
I guess Jimmy’s death from skin cancer one more reason to be very careful when you’re out and about in the sun, especially if you’re fair skinned. Bill had his first dermatology exam this year, because of some suspicious looking stuff on his skin. It turned out he’s okay. I probably should break down and get an exam, too. Maybe encouraging people to use sunscreen and get checked for skin cancer could be one more thing Jimmy does for humanity, besides writing gentle, poignant, funny, and comforting anthems for the world.
Anyway… I did enjoy a Margarita on Saturday, remembering Jimmy’s music, and how it made my youth better. Some of his songs never fail to make me smile, especially the live versions. I know it’s not the same as being there in person, but I can tell by the roar of the crowd on those live albums that Jimmy was one hell of an entertainer. He wrote books and ran restaurants, too. In fact, Bill and I had the chance to visit his Key West Margaritaville outlet, over Labor Day weekend in 2010. Naturally, I enjoyed a Margarita there.
And below is one of my favorite Buffett songs, ever… This one always makes me laugh.
And no tribute would be complete without this infamous song… 😀
I do like the music, but those crowds are insane! He made so many people happy, though! It just seems like the world is a dimmer place without a little Buffett in it. He had such a tremendous gift for spreading the fun to everyone. That is such a rare thing. So I can see why so many of my friends are so sad to lose Jimmy. He was one of a kind.
All weekend, I’ve been thinking about whether or not I wanted to do a musical tribute. I decided today I would try one of Jimmy’s songs… So here it is. I hope a few people like it.
As a child of the 70s and 80s, it’s hard for me to see so many great singers from my youth passing on. It’s a grim reminder that I’m no longer a spring chicken myself… especially as my sister, Sarah (who is 8 years older than I am), and I have both seen members of our high school classes pass away recently. In her case, the person was her first boyfriend when we moved to Gloucester County in Virginia, back in 1980. In my case, it was a guy I knew because we shared a lot of classes. I don’t think he liked me very much back then… and probably never thought of me again once we graduated. But I was sure saddened and surprised to see that he’d been ill and passed away at just 51 years of age. I guess these things are just a reminder not to sweat the small stuff or take things for granted. Because, before you know it, it’s time to move on to the next big thing yourself.
Somehow, it seems fitting that Jimmy Buffett would pass away on September 1. His music has always epitomized summer and good times to me… and especially Labor Day weekend, which is also special to me, because that was when Bill and I realized we were in love, back in 2001. So, wherever Jimmy is, I hope he’s at peace. His music will always bring back golden memories for me… and remind me of home. May God bless his soul.
I was about to title this post “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”, but I figured it would be better to use an animal friendly alternative. One of my particular gifts is a love for animals, after all. Even if I weren’t an animal lover, that particular expression would make me cringe at the violent imagery of it. Besides, who the hell is skinning cats these days? Certainly not anyone I’d want to know.
Since I’m a singer, I happen to know there’s more than one way to sing a song. In fact, as I write this post, I’m listening to Kenny Rogers sing “Desperado”, a song that was made famous by its composers, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, and their celebrated band, The Eagles. It has also been done beautifully by many different performers… Linda Ronstadt comes to mind. Karen Carpenter sang it with her brother, who reportedly felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end when he heard it the first time. Clint Black also sang it for an Eagles tribute album. I do a pretty mean rendition myself, if I may be so bold. However, I won’t be recording it for YouTube, because Don Henley is a bastard about copyright claims. 😉 Not that he doesn’t have the right to be…
I often read articles to Bill– ones I’ve written, or ones I’ve found in any of the newspapers I regularly read. This morning, I came across “The R.T.O. Whisperers Have a Plan”, a fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine (unlocked) by Emma Goldberg about managers who have been trying to get people to stop wanting to work remotely and come back to the office. Instead of reading the article, I decided to play it– listen to it being read by a narrator.
The well written piece was all about how some workers are rebelling against the traditional requirement to work in an office setting. The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily made remote working a necessity. Now, people are finding that they don’t want to go back to the old way of doing things, and office managers are having to adjust. They’re even bringing in “whisperers” to try to figure out how to lure workers back into the traditional office environment, and doing everything from making goodie bags to hosting yoga classes. They’re finding that some people would rather quit than go back to the daily office grind, while others are much happier working away from home.
I knew this was going to happen years ago, though not because of a pandemic. I just realized, even back in 2000 or so, that people would one day be able to work from home with ease. Sure enough, I was right. Some managers are now having to change their perspectives and their attitudes to maintain competent staffing.
There’s more than one way to sing a song…
My first experience with remote work was when I was a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. I was a graduate assistant, and my boss, a very progressive nurse who had gone into working in public health legislation, hired me to help her research legislative and maternal and child health issues. After some time, she started telling me to work from home, which worked great for me. Looking back on it, she may have done that because she didn’t like having me around the office. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t always have the easiest personality for some people to take.
Not surprisingly, I loved remote working. I am able to be very productive in my home office. It’s an environment that works best for me. Much of what I did for that job involved writing and research, and working from home made it easier to concentrate. I also loved not having to get dressed up, sit in traffic, or deal with interpersonal conflicts and personality clashes with others.
After I graduated, I went looking for work in the Washington, DC area. Because I was an Army wife, I knew that the clock was ticking, because military families move a lot. I remember suggesting remote work to a hiring manager, who had a very strong reaction against the idea. I remember thinking that guy was going to be in for a rude awakening, because even in the early 00s, I could see that remote work was going to be a wave of the future. There’s a lot good to be said about it.
Yes, it’s hard for some managers to trust that their employees are going to be productive when they can’t actually watch them working. But people who can work from home don’t have to waste two hours a day in traffic. They don’t contribute to road rage, traffic accidents, or air pollution. They don’t spend as much money on dry cleaning or child care. Those who like remote working, whose jobs can be done remotely, and are capable of handling the responsibility, can be very productive and, more importantly, much more satisfied with their work. Moreover, a lot of time is wasted in office environments. Some people in offices spend time chit chatting and doing other stuff rather than doing their work.
The article that I linked specified other reasons why some people prefer remote work. Some of the reasons are issues that might not immediately seem obvious. For instance, the article mentioned that some people feel more comfortable working at home because of racial tensions in the workplace, or having to deal with people who are intolerant about other things they can’t help, like their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Or, perhaps they are more comfortable at home for other reasons. Recently, I watched the film, The Whale, which starred Brendan Fraser, who worked at home as an English professor teaching online classes. Fraser’s character, Charlie, was enormous, and he was ashamed of his appearance, so he turned off his camera, so his students couldn’t see him. This allowed him to earn a living, without having to endure the pain of his students visibly regarding him with disgust, or trying to maneuver in a world that doesn’t accommodate people who are literally huge. I’m not saying that’s the healthiest attitude to adopt. However, that movie does present a fairly realistic scenario highlighting a reason why some people would rather do their jobs from home. Some people work best on their own.
As for me, after that interview in which my suggestion to remote work was quickly shot down, I later scored some remote writing assignments. I found that I was able to complete them quickly, and well enough to earn bonuses. If we had stayed in the DC area a bit longer, I might have carved out an actual career, complete with a livable salary and benefits. 😉 As it was, I ended up leaving the formal workforce altogether.
Ah well. Maybe I could have had a conventional job until 2007. But then, we moved to Germany, and after that, moved three more times until Bill retired in 2014. Then we moved BACK to Germany. It would have been hard to build an in person work history when we were constantly moving. By the time Bill left the Army, we had truly made things work so that I didn’t really have to worry about working for money. Bill gradually proved himself over here, earned a couple of raises and promotions, and then started drawing his military retirement, which is literally like a second salary. We don’t own a home or other expensive property, and we’ve paid off most of our debts. So here I sit… a “professional” blogger and mediocre housewife. 😉
There’s more than one way to sing a song…
This certainly wasn’t what I had planned for myself. I did try to find a conventional job for several years. One day, Bill told me to stop trying to find a “real job”, because the process was really making me miserable, and we had enough money to make the household work. I remember, back in 2005, sitting in our Army provided house at the card table that served as our dining table. I said, “This is temporary. We are going to have a good life. It’s just going to take some time and discipline.”
Not long after that, I got a lucrative writing job that paid for a new dining table, a couch, and loveseat. I was able to do the whole project from home.
We’ve had some genuine perks related to my not having a “real job”, too. My not having a job meant that someone was there to take care of the dogs, do the household chores, and be available to deal with other domestic issues. It also meant that we only had to consider one work schedule when it came time to travel somewhere. Granted, during the early years of our marriage, we didn’t have much money for travel. But, when Bill went to Iraq, we had some extra money, which I used to pay off debt. I paid off all of his high interest credit cards (which he had because of the financial hell of his first marriage). I started paying extra on my student loans. Before long, we were ahead on our bills, and had some extra. I started saving and investing it. I supported Bill in his work, which meant I spent a lot of nights alone. I continued to write and made some money… not a lot, but something.
As Bill’s Army career came to an end, he worried about what was coming next. Once again, I delivered a prophecy that turned out to come true. I said, “I think your time to shine will be in your post Army life.”
Sure enough, in Germany, Bill has been a bright, shining star… He is much in demand for his diverse, yet hard to find technical skills. He’s also very well-liked and respected by his bosses, co-workers, and his clients. Meanwhile, I started saving and investing more of his salary, growing a modest $1000 investment to fifty times that. Bill opened an IRA. We paid off my student loans in 2018, nine years ahead of time. Last week, he got a nice raise. Now, we’re quite comfortable. My 2005 prediction has come true.
There’s more than one way to sing a song…
Why am I writing this story? Because I want to point out that there’s more than one way to be successful. There’s more than one way to get through life. Just because someone isn’t doing things the conventional way, that doesn’t mean they’re a waste of space or not contributing.
For years, certain people have given me a ration of crap over the way I live my life. Most of the people who have had a negative attitude have been people close to me. My dad had a real problem with the fact that I didn’t work outside the house. One time, when Bill was deployed, he called me and demanded to know what I was going to do with my time while Bill was in Iraq. He suggested that I get a job– even if it was waiting tables, so I might have more self-respect. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that how I spent my time was NONE of his business.
I suspect that he made that suggestion because it was embarrassing for HIM to feel like he needed to tell his friends that I was a housewife. He didn’t accept that I am a writer, or that writing is a “real job” for me, for which I have even earned some money.
After years of hearing my dad’s criticisms of everything from how I laughed, to my appearance, to who I dated (though he ended up loving Bill– probably more than he loved me), to where I worked, I was fed up and not about to take it anymore. So I told him to mind his own business, and stop harassing me about how I lived my life. It felt great, especially since there was nothing he could do but react with appropriate sheepishness and finally, STFU.
I’ve also heard comments from people wondering how we can buy certain things. Like, when we bought my car in 2009, my sister wondered how we could afford it and actually had the nerve to ask me. We got a discount and paid it off early. I still have it 14 years later. Years of paying things on time means that Bill and I both have outstanding credit ratings. When I met Bill years ago, that was not the case for him. His credit rating was in the 400s. I told him we would not be doing things the way they were done in his first marriage. We live within our means, and now we both have credit ratings in the 800s.
Other people– family members, acquaintances, ex landladies 😉 … and strangers– have looked down on me for living life the way I do. They think I’m lazy and don’t contribute, because I don’t obviously pull down a salary, and I’m not raising kids. They don’t realize that I contribute in lots of other ways, nor is it really their business, anyway, as long as the bills are paid.
The way Bill and I have done things doesn’t work for everyone. Not all couples can pull off what we have. However, the point is, our lifestyle HAS worked for us, and I have, actually, used that “fancy” education in making this lifestyle work (the finance classes were helpful). Living this way involves a lot of mutual trust, suppression of egos, and understanding. Frankly, given what Bill went through with his ex wife, I’m surprised he trusted me. It did take some time. But twenty plus years later, here we are, and it all works fine for us.
Now… if I needed to work outside the home for our survival, of course I’d do it. But, in our situation, it’s simply worked better for me to stay home. As I sit here, contemplating where we’re going to go on vacation, I can’t deny that it’s worked out fine.
There’s more than one way to sing a song!
After all these years, I feel kind of vindicated, even if it’s still sometimes hard to accept that in a conventional workplace, I was kind of a failure. But that doesn’t mean I’ve failed at life. I’ve just done things kind of differently than expected. And frankly, I’m grateful I didn’t have to spend the last twenty plus years in a cubicle, trying to think outside the box.
Not having a “real job” has also allowed me to make the video below… my version of Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s In Need of Love of Love Today”, a song from 1976 that is sadly still so relevant in 2023..,
This review was originally written for Epinions.com in May 2008. It appears here as/is.
I was pretty excited when I saw that Don Felder, former guitarist in the Eagles, had written his bookHeaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001). The book, which was published in 2008 and written with help from author Wendy Holden, was in my hot little hands just weeks after it came on the market. Although it’s a pretty sizable volume, I was able to finish it after just a few days of frenzied reading. Don Felder has a lot to say… probably much to the chagrin of his former bandmates.
Heaven and Hell begins with a quick chapter describing what it was like for Felder and his fellow Eagles before a typical show. They would emerge into a stadium, fresh from a beer drinking and cocaine session, take their places, and gaze out at the crowd. The concert would begin and Felder would enjoy the rush of adrenaline, fan adoration, and cocaine as he and the rest of the Eagles launched into “Hotel California”. After this very brief look at life as a rock star, Felder begins his life story, starting at the beginning.
Don Felder was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida. He grew up poor and survived a bout with polio, the second son of hardworking parents who lived in a house Felder’s father had built with his own two hands. While he was sick with polio as a small child, Don Felder discovered the joy of music. One day, he traded some firecrackers for a neighbor’s old guitar and started learning how to play. It wasn’t long before Felder was so good that he was playing gigs and teaching other people how to play. One of his earliest students was none other than Tom Petty. Felder seemed destined for a career as a rock star.
With friends like founding Eagle, Bernie Leadon, Duane and Gregg Allman, and Graham Nash, it certainly seemed like Don Felder had plenty of contacts who could help him get his foot in the door of the music business. As Heaven and Hell continues, Felder explains how he came to meet and marry his wife and eventually end up in southern California where his destiny as a star awaited. Using a very laid back style, Felder continues the story of how he gave up a gig with Stephen Stills to become a part of the Eagles, a band that is notoriously private, yet extremely popular.
It was Felder’s friendship with Bernie Leadon that led him to meet the other members of the Eagles circa 1971, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Randy Meisner. Felder describes how each band member had a unique style and talent that, when blended together, created what became known as the “California Rock” sound. Back in the early 70s, the Eagles’ style was decidedly more country than rock. Felder describes the early Eagles as a bunch of young guys who enjoyed drinking, drugging, and getting laid. All of them, except for Randy Meisner, were single and apparently very horny. Don Felder joined them for jam session. A few years after that, he moved to California and officially became an Eagle in 1974.
Felder and his co-author then describe what a mixed blessing being an Eagle actually was. Here he was, a member of an extraordinarily talented band that would one day be the biggest selling act in America. He was doing what he loved, adored by fans, and making a lot of money. He was also constantly on the road, dealing with the lonely grind of touring. Drugs and girls were constant temptations for Felder, who was happily married and a father. Worst of all, none of the Eagles seemed to get along. Though they made beautiful music together and each Eagle brought something special to the group, the band members bickered amongst each other constantly. Apparently, even in Felder’s early days as an Eagle, there was extreme contention among the band members. Don Henley and Glenn Frey were, according to Felder, the most egotistical members of the group.
Being an Eagles fan, I was pretty interested in reading about the band’s politics. However, I also enjoyed reading Felder’s many anecdotes about other rock stars he got to know. Some of the stories in Heaven and Hell are quite revealing and some are just plain hilarious.
Any Eagles fan knows that the band didn’t always play country rock. In 1976, the band developed more of a rock sound when Bernie Leadon left and was replaced by funky guitar player Joe Walsh. Felder includes some great stories about Joe Walsh; apparently, he’s quite a practical joker. Felder also includes the story about how the great song “Hotel California” came to be created and how, after the album that spawned “Hotel California”, Randy Meisner quit the band and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit. Felder writes about the people behind the scenes as well, including the Eagles’ manager and producer.
What goes up must eventually come down and that seems to be true for the Eagles as well. By 1980, the band was at the height of its success. And the band members were also fighting amongst themselves. Fueled by their egos, greed, and perhaps too much cocaine, the Eagles ended up breaking up. For the first time in years, Felder was able to go home to his family, enjoy some of the fruits of his career, and be a father to his children. Fourteen years later, the band got back together for the Hell Freezes Over tour. Felder includes some juicy bits about that reunion, too.
Heaven and Hell also discusses how Don Felder was eventually fired from the Eagles and how he sued the band when it tried to force him to sell his interest. I got the feeling, as I was reading this book, that Don Felder wrote it, in part, as a way of thumbing his nose at Glenn Frey and Don Henley, who seemed to be the biggest offenders of egotistical and greedy behavior. I was certainly left with the impression that while Don Felder respected their talent as musicians, particularly Henley’s talents as a singer and song writer, he didn’t appreciate being screwed by them. Of course, Don Henley and Glenn Frey have their own sides of the story. We may never get to read what they think of what happened, but it sure is fun reading Felder’s account.
I don’t know how much of this book was written by Don Felder and how much was written by Wendy Holden. I will say that the book did seem to come from Felder– never once did I feel like it was a story told by another person. The book is long and involved, but it’s fun to read and very interesting. And again, I did laugh aloud several times, usually due to Felder’s wry descriptions of @sshole behavior coming from Glenn Frey. I don’t think the two are on good terms at all. Besides lots of juicy anecdotes, Heaven and Hell also includes lots of pictures, especially of Felder and his family.
Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading Heaven and Hell and I would, without question, recommend it to any Eagles fan or anyone who just likes to read about rock stars. While I feel like this book had a slight element of sour grapes to it, I also feel like Don Felder has every right to tell his story. By this account, it sounds like he was not treated very well and I can’t blame him for speaking out. He seems like a nice person and that makes me hope his book is successful… but I also genuinely enjoyed reading his story. It seems ironic that he was a member of a band bearing the name of a bird that symbolizes freedom, yet he’s probably never been freer in his lifetime than he is right now. I, for one, say good for Don Felder.
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