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  • Writer's pictureFred

Jimmy Buffett v Steve Harwell

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Jimmy Buffett passed away last week and Steve Harwell passed away today.

Their deaths symbolically represent the decline of the American Empire.

What the hell am I talking about? You'd be surprised.

The Greatest Generation saved us from Hitler and Mussolini. Journalist Tom Brokaw would wax poetically about the war generation throughout his senior years and wrote a book touting their greatness. Here's a summary:

"Brokaw coined the term “The Greatest Generation” to describe those who came of age during World War II in the United States, and focuses on both those who fought in the war in Europe and Japan, and those who contributed to the war effort at home and experienced rationing and other sacrifice. For Brokaw, this is the greatest generation any society has ever produced because they fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do."

Jimmy Buffett was one of the first wave of babies to come out after the war years. Born in 1946, if you asked me to name a musician that embodied the term "Boomer," it would be Jimmy Buffett.

Jimmy Buffett was essentially a one-hit wonder that parlayed his love of "island escapism" into a billion dollar business enterprise.

His soft rock wasn't timeless, it was a circular nostalgia doom loop.

You're telling me that Jimmy Buffett was a prolific musician that had over 2 dozen albums? All you Parrotheads can cram it.

When I think of Yacht Rock of the 70's, I think of Jimmy Buffett. My opinion doesn't matter, he won, his coffin was lined with cash.

Steve Harwell was one of the first waves of grand-babies to come out of the Greatest Generation. Born in 1967, if you asked me to name a musician that embodied the term "Gen X" (that lived past the age of 30,) it would be Steve Harwell.

Harwell was the lead singer of the band Smash Mouth. For all intensive purposes, Smash Mouth was essentially a one-hit wonder that parlayed their musical career into...internet fame?

Now don't get me wrong, I actually liked Steve Harwell. I enjoyed about 5 or 6 Smash Mouth songs and when he sang through the end credits of Rat Race, it was one of the few movie moments that actually warmed my cold, black heart.

'Walkin' on the Sun,' for what it was, was a catchy song.

But they had a niche sound that also wasn't timeless, it was a specific slice of time that evolved in the post-grunge era.

When I think of Alternative Pop of the 90's, I think of Steve Harwell.

Harwell's death was imminent, news leaked of his hospice care days ago. His coffin won't be lined with cash. Years of alcohol abuse...

You know what?

Harwell and I share the same generation, the destructive nihilism of Generation X.

Are Millennials coming to save America with their selfless moral compass?

What about the Zoomers?

When generational symbols pass, people tend to become retrospective.

"We probably need a couple more decades before a clear picture of meme culture's lasting impact on the annals of music history is revealed. But in the meantime, Smash Mouth isn't going away."

That quote was 2 years before Harwell's health-related retirement, 3 years before his death.


Addendum: 8 Hours Later

50-something year old Fred is a bit embarrassed, but when he was in grade school he had a huge crush on Theresa Weaver.

This was one of Schoolboy Fred's favorite songs:

Gary Wright was 80 at his passing.

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