One Graham's View

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Who would you be?

Good morning,

Monday night, Samuel L. Jackson was on the Tonight Show and told host Jay Leno something that caused me to think and I feel compelled to post it here. He said that if he could be anybody else, he would choose to be Tiger Woods and then went on to explain why.

This got me to thinking…given the opportunity, who would I want to be. More than who, I pondered why I would choose to be that person.

I thought this was an incredibly thought provoking subject and that’s why I wanted to post it here. I’ll explain whom I chose in a moment, but who would you want to be?
Don’t forget to say why.

I don’t know if that thought provoker has rules, like if the person has to be living or dead, or if you get to be that person for a particular moment in time or if you would just assume the rest of that person’s life. Or, can you be somebody for a particular moment in time? Or, does that person have to be somebody living today or could you go back in time and live in another period?

I discussed this topic with some family members while heading to dinner last night. My father in law thoughtfully said, “If I had to live the rest of the person’s life, then I’d pick a baby.” Mrs. OGV said she wouldn’t necessarily want to be Mother Theresa, but she would like to be somebody who gets to spend some time with the noted and renowned nun, just to understand her insight on life and people.

For me, when considering the subject, I let my mind run. I first thought that I would love to be Sammy Hagar, a rock singer I’ve been a fan of since I first heard him at a concert in my high school years. I used to think it would be so cool to be this guy who went from venue to venue, singing the songs I loved. This feeling was magnified when he joined the already monster rock group Van Halen, which was one of my favorite groups. When that first happened, I thought how cool it would be to get to hang out with that band. I’ve read a lot about Sammy and followed his career from his early days with Montrose, to a successful solo career, to VH front man, and then again to being a solo artist once more. Along the way, he also opened The Cabo Wabo Cantina, a restaurant/concert venue and popular destination in the tourist city Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I think his creative processes and business acumen would only be rivaled by the joy of performing his songs in concert, living out the mantra of discovering something you love to do and then finding a way to get paid for it.

However, after a few seconds of reflection, I discounted that selection as being very one dimensional and rooted in the rebellious and raucous male self from the days of my youth that has rumbled secretly inside of the calm and conservative me that everybody else has seen most of my life. I would need more depth for this venture.

Then I thought about Jimmy Buffett. His life presents a situation very similar to that of Sammy Hagar, but goes beyond it in many ways. Buffett is a musician who has crafted a unique cultural place and developed attributes that I think would be great to have in my own life. Aside from still being a top concert draw throughout a thirty-plus year career, regularly bringing out tens of thousands of ParrotHeads from coast to coast, he has also done so much more to transcend the musical landscape. He has authored several books, including a novel, a collection of short stories and an autobiography. He has co-written a Broadway musical, Stop the Carnival. He has successfully launched an international string of his Jimmy Buffett’ Margaritaville Cantina theme restaurants. Additionally, he has launched a line of frozen foods from these restaurants marketed under the Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville brand.

Those are an overview of his personal accomplishments, but he has always worked to redefine who he is. He began his life living near the Mississippi River and developed a love for boats and sailing. He incorporated that love into his music and launched the laidback Key West sound to pop music with his two chart hits in the 1970s, Come Monday and Margaritaville. Outside of those two songs he wasn’t known by a large part of the American public. Still, he persevered. He continued building his musical following to grow into the entertainment magnate he is today. Along the way, he took his love for boats and made the natural transition to a love for seaplanes that can both fly and land on water.

Then when all that had been done, he recreated his musical styling to fit a natural target, the contemporary country music fan. He partnered with some of the biggest names in Nashville and got his first professional award for his work, an ACM award for his song “Its Five O’clock Somewhere,” a duet he recorded with Alan Jackson.

Along the way, he has continued to put on the major production concerts his fans have come to love. Whether it is the banana-shaped air cannon shooting rolled up t-shirts into the cheering crowd, or the carnival atmosphere that his the Buffett show, or if it is the intermission featuring Buffett’s home movies of flying in his personal seaplane, he has continued to give his fans what they want. And they keep buying, which means he is doing it right.

All the while, he still gets to come out on stage wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops, singing the songs he loves and doing what he started more than three decades ago.

Yes, this is who I’d love to be. More for the life he has led, though, than where he is heading. He’s older than me and I’d much rather prefer to have my years ahead of me than his.

Now, that choice is made on the assumption of being one person for their life. That choice would be different for me if I chose one person to be at a particular moment in time. If that were the choice, I would love to have been Neil Armstrong when he first walked on the moon. What a wonderful and unique feeling that must have been. What an incredible place in history to hold. All that and he got paid to do it!

Now, what about you? Who would you be and why? Rules don’t exist. It could be somebody alive or dead, for a particular moment of time or for his or her entire life.

Please tell. As the old television ads used to say, “Inquiring minds want to know!”

And, if I don’t get to say it to you personally, Merry Christmas! I hope the spirit of the holidays bless each of you and your families.



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