Crossing One Off My Bucket List

by Ashley on June 4, 2012

I went to my happy place this weekend.

Shots. Three at a time.

Three people who apparently aren't afraid of drowning in alcohol.

My first, though hopefully not last, Jimmy Buffett concert. It was incredible. There were hippies and beach bums (I fall into category No. 2) tailgating in the parking lot starting at least 12 hours before the concert started. People in coconut bras and grass skirts doing shots three at a time. When we finally got in the park, we were part of The Lawn People. Jimmy called us out several times to say hello and ask if we were having fun. From the looks (and smell) of things, yes, we were all definitely having a good time.

So we’re all out there, bouncing beach balls around. One of them had a message that its owners needed help paying for their wedding and left the address for where to send our contribution. Uh, no.

Lawn People

The Lawn People!

Some people were barely dressed; others were barely standing. One guy was passed out until midway through the show, what a waste!

JB started with One Particular Harbor. I expected to hear that one, and it was just as good as I’d hoped. Some artists don’t sound nearly as good live as they do on the CD, and that’s always disappointing, am I right? But Jimmy sounds just the same, and he’s been doing this for so long that he’s probably more comfortable on stage than off.

Weeks ago, the hubby hunted up a chart online that listed the times Jimmy had played each of his songs at past shows. A few songs were listed at 100%. There was no way he wasn’t going to play Margaritaville, A Pirate Looks at 40, Cheeseburger in Paradise, and a handful of others.

So we were browsing this list and hubby scrolled down to find the probability that we’d hear one of my very favorite songs. Scarlet Begonias is a Grateful Dead cover and (I’d venture to guess) relatively unnoticed except among the most diehard Parrotheads. But it’s on my top 10 list. I love it so much that I made it my default ringtone (so give me a call so I can hear it!)

Sadly, the likelihood that he’d play it was next to nothing. At the time we checked this list, he hadn’t played Scarlet Begonias in the past 46 shows. Disappointing, but not unexpected. I like nearly all his songs so it didn’t matter much to me what he played as long as I got to hear Come Monday (my karaoke jam), and that one had nearly 100% chance. I was a happy girl.

I’ve known all the lyrics to all the songs for years, but the hubby took a crash course and earned his swimfins in just a couple of weeks. I was so proud to hear him singing a different song every morning as we got ready for work. I’m pretty sure I fell a little bit more in love with him every time I heard him sing a new song.

Of course, he has his favorites too. As the end of the night neared, he griped that Jimmy might not play Fins. That was one of the most played songs! But I was sure he’d play it and tried to be patient. There were a couple songs played that I didn’t recognize, which surprised me. I feel like a bad Parrothead, so I have a little research to do.

The end of the regular set. Now, encore. Still hadn’t played Fins, but I wasn’t worried. Hubby was. Jimmy started again with a couple of songs that huJB souvenir t-shirtbby really likes, so he was trying to console himself with those. No matter what, it was a great show and I wouldn’t be disappointed. This night was on my bucket list, so there’s no way I could go home unhappy (unless someone stole my $35 t-shirt, and thankfully that didn’t happen, but I was a little fearful of beer spills from all the drunken passers-by.)

There’s no way I can do justice to this part of the story with mere words, so I’ll just jump right in. The third song of the encore started. I felt like I was playing Name That Tune, because about three seconds in, I knew what it was. I think it took me longer than one second only because it was so unexpected. I turned to hubby with my eyes wide, hands covering my mouth in shock. I was having trouble breathing. Because I was hearing the first notes of Scarlet Begonias.

Later hubby said that even though Jimmy didn’t play several of the songs he wanted to hear, seeing the look on my face during Scarlet Begonias was worth missing them.

As we left the venue, I was still in shock that I’d actually heard Jimmy play that song. It wasn’t impossible of course, but the improbability of it made it so hard to believe I’d just heard what I’d heard. And it made it that much better too, because it was so unlikely. This might seem like a stretch, but to me, it’s not: This is not unlike understanding grace. That God’s grace can be free makes no sense to me. That I can’t do anything to earn salvation seems so unlikely. What does make sense is that if I’m good enough, I’ll go to heaven. If I do more good than harm, help enough old ladies cross the street, I’ll get my ticket to paradise. The improbability that this logic could be wrong and that God could give salvation freely to all who believe makes the realization that much sweeter when it finally sinks in.

I was ecstatic while I was singing along with Scarlet Begonias, but it didn’t sink in until later that I’d actually heard him sing the song I’ve adored for years. I was still disbelieving the morning after the concert. I know it’s true, but it’s still sinking in. Understanding grace might take a while to sink in too. But believe it; it’s worth it and it will change your life.

So we listened to the rest of the show, an altogether amazing experience. I will never forget those first few seconds when I realized I was going to receive the most unlikely gift from my favorite artist.

Oh yea, I almost forgot. The last song of the night? Fins.



Hi Ashley,

What an awesome story!! I need to make a bucket list. I don’t even have one!


by Terri on June 4, 2012 at 7:45 pm. Reply #

Hey Terri – I don’t know whether I ever actually made a bucket list. I just always knew that a Jimmy Buffett concert was on it 🙂

by Ashley on June 4, 2012 at 10:24 pm. Reply #

Grace? Well put! His grace is sufficient for me. Hard to grasp, but oh so sweet!

(Concert? A little jealous, but so happy that you got to go!)

by Sandy on June 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm. Reply #

I’m still struggling to completely understand grace. It’s nothing like I ever knew or understood growing up. I love learning about it now! Thanks for stopping by! <3

by Ashley on June 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm. Reply #

Hang on. I have NO idea how I saw Buffett before you. Like, I was 100% certain that you’d seen him at least a half-dozen times already! Granted, I didn’t see a full show, but rather a set at JazzFest, but considering his great love for the Gulf Coast and NOLA I still regard it as one of the best blasts of a set I’ll probably ever see. The people-watching, as you now well know, is unparallelled.

I’m also certain he found my friend FTD and I to be utterly ridiculous (and of course tipsy) as we stalked him in the Quarter, giggling like school girls. To this day I still wonder if was actually him, but FTD is a Parrothead herself so she remains is certain. I’m partial to believing it was because it looked like him and it seemed chill and hilarious enough for him to do–just stroll around right through the throngs of us.

ANYWHO, I’m so glad it was an amazing show–even more amazing that you heard Scarlet Begonias. That’s simply incredible and it is everything a devoted fan and concertgoer should experience. Even better is your awareness of the grace within that event, and how palpable it becomes when you allow yourself to recognize it everywhere. It’s in the big things, to be sure, but the miraculous sweetness of its surprise sometimes is one of the greatest realizations we could ever know. I love that you’ve shared that with me and the rest of us 🙂

This blog is just sublime, I tell you. Keep up the great good work!

by Danita on June 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm. Reply #

Danita, yes, you would think I’d have seen him a bunch of times already, but it never worked out until now. It was perfect timing though! Unparalleled. That is precisely the word for drunken Parrothead viewing 🙂

What a fantastic experience tracking him down! Hilarious. Wish I could have been there.

You flatter me. Love you, girl. When are you coming to visit?!

by Ashley on June 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm. Reply #

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