Monday, May 6, 2013

Sending the Old Man Home

Greetings All:

As I have mentioned before, I am a Jimmy Buffett fan.  Not as much as I was say two kids ago, but still dig his music.  I like pretty much everything he has put out and my favorite album (OK, fine, CD, at least I did not say download) is Hot Water.  I have a number of favorite songs and one of them is Sending the Old Man Home.  I first heard the song in law school when the Buffett Beaches, Boats, Bars and Ballads CD box set was released.  I thought it was a clever tone and rhymed particularly well.  It also was a tale that kept my attention for a bit.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, here are the lyrics:

Sending the Old Man Home by Jimmy Buffett, 1979

They're sending the old man home
Back where the buffalo roam
Out in Pacific they say he was the best
Now he's in his "civies" headin' home like all the rest

He'll never forget Rosa Lee
Or sleepless nights he fought upon the sea
He'll only have the memories
Or great books by James Jones
`Cause they're sending the old man home

Far away
Far away
Another life so very far away

They'll tear down the officers clubs
And write off the overdue subs
So let's drink to their memories
Our heros and our pals
To those crazy navy flyers
To those swell Hawaiian gals

The sailors will dance in the street
Then they'll mothball the whole damn fleet
We'll only have the picture books
Of land and sea and foam

`Cause they're sending the old man home

He'll only have his memories
Or great books by James Jones
`Cause they're sending the old man home.

I learned on Sunday this was released on the Volcano album in 1979 (and yes, back then, there were only albums and 8-tracks and possibly cassettes.)  In any event, that is when it came out.  I suspect that although Buffett's Dad was not a sailor, he was inspired at least in part by his service in World War II.  Here is the link to Buffett's dad obituary:

So here we have a song that tells a pretty straight-forward tale:  World War II is over, we won.  While the world celebrates the victory, the "old man" is dealt a melancholy hand- no more fame, only a trip home.  Oh, we'll remember you and do so fondly.  Yet, don't expect much more, but...thanks.

Fast forward to April 14, 2013.  I am reading the paper and come across an obituary for a gentlemen who will remain anonymous.  I do this for his obituary stated he was a private man.  There was no visitation and there was a private graveside service.  That's it, that is how he wanted it.  As much as I want to put the link into this post, I will not.  I will, however, say that as I read of his life, I thought of this Buffett song.  He was a Navy veteran and did great and heroic things in the Navy.  Like our hero in the song,"...Out in Pacific they say he was the best." He was in command of 500 men and lost not a one. No small feat in a war where death came fast and hard under a merciless Japanese foe.  It would be understandable if he, or any veteran would live in the past, to recall the "...sleepless nights he fought upon the sea."  And yet in reading his obituary, I got the feeling he did not.  Oh sure, he had a room with his military awards (as well he should) but the write-up went back and again to his family, how that is what he truly celebrated.  He lived life and lived life in the moment.  He memorialized his service and then did not let it linger as the centerpiece in his life.  Unlike the song, our real-life hero had more, much more, than "...only have his memories, or great books by James Jones,..."  

We all have a tendency to take a stroll or two down memory lane.  A few weeks' back, I asked my wife if she wanted to go out with me while I hung out with a couple of my fraternity brothers and she politely declined.  Her comment was,  "No thanks, you guys tell a bunch of stories, the same ones I've heard before, and I am sure you'll tell them again."  She was right, we did.  And just for full disclosure, I still laugh as hard (if not harder).  It is good (not to mention fun) to laugh at the humorous memories and recall with pride the significant one.  I think the trick is to spend less time dusting the trophies in our memories and more time creating new ones.  After all, as Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations:

“The memory of everything is very soon overwhelmed in time.”

As I close out this post, I found on YouTube a version of this song with compliments and appreciation to Floyd K.  Enjoy.

Have a great rest of the week and thanks for reading.

Best rgs,

1 comment:

  1. I, too, love this song. And as the son of a career Army officer, and grandson of a Marine who served in the Pacific in WWII (as well as in France in WWI), I particularly appreciate the lyrics. I agree with you that he really captured something here.
    Thanks for posting.