Jimmy Buffett does not live the Jimmy Buffett lifestyle (SLNYT)
February 8, 2018 1:25 PM   Subscribe

 
You don't make over $500 million by sitting on the beach drinking Margaritas.

Hmmm. Turns out my Uncle Ralph was a terrible guidance counselor.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:35 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Hah, I almost posted this. It made me think of a passage Anthony Bourdain wrote in Medium Raw, where he talks about what happens when the artist succeeds beyond their wildest dreams, becomes a cog in some sort of weird machine that keeps other people employed and the money flowing in, and the artist finds themselves a hundred miles away from who they were and where they started from. We all need signifiers of the life we want, so I guess if somebody wants to use Margaritaville brand shrimp rub because it reminds them of their last beach trip, I'm not going to gripe. His early songs are still fine, and I'm sure a few of the later ones are too.
posted by PussKillian at 1:36 PM on February 8 [9 favorites]


Actually, thanks to the Republicans' estate tax cut, there will be plenty of rich kids making $500m sitting on the beach.
posted by NBelarski at 1:38 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I thought this would be about Warren Buffet
posted by Omnomnom at 1:38 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


I will say his frozen "Key Lime Shrimp" is actually pretty tasty. I cook in a skillet and serve it over rice. The Margaritaville restaurant near us closed a few years ago. We went there once and were not impressed. Service was very slow and it was overpriced. His concerts are a lot of fun though.
posted by COD at 1:45 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


He sold his fans quality, spell-checked T-shirts. Pink puffy hearts for that sentence.

Twenty years ago I was working with a middle aged guy who was a huge Jimmy Buffett fan. He gave me a CD (!) that he had burned. I listened to it, but had no use for it. It was kind of sad.

Now I'm a middle aged lady with a cubicle job that I don't hate at all, but I have at least 20 more years of work to go and some days when it's cold and gray and rainy...it's a bit of a downer. I listen to Buffett's music now and it hits that sweet spot in me that just wants to go spring breaking (couldn't afford it in college) or get a hut at a beach and sell handmade jewelry and yeah, I GET IT NOW.

We have SiriusXM - Margaritaville is one of my presets. It's a pretty good mix of music, not just Buffett songs. I saw the original Margaritaville bar in Key West and excitedly bought a shirt. I want to see him in concert before he dies. I read articles like this and realize he's a freaking genius. A rich genius.

Only time is now more precious to the oldest surfer on the beach...
posted by kimberussell at 1:51 PM on February 8 [21 favorites]


So on a scale of, say, very chill to attentive, he's attentive more often than not, now? Sounds about right.
posted by ThatSomething at 1:51 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I am as far from a Buffett fan as possible, but I will say this: on my honeymoon, we took a cruise. One of the excursions was a catamaran ride to an island. On that catamaran, drinking rum punch, spray in my face, with Buffett songs playing, for a little while it all made sense.

Also, it's funny that this post misspells his name as the article says that's one of the reasons he started producing his own merchandise.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:51 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Also, it's funny that this post misspells his name as the article says that's one of the reasons he started producing his own merchandise.

Ha. I swear I typed double t's at the end of his name - I wonder if spellcheck did that and I didn't notice. If a mod wants to fix that please feel free....
posted by COD at 1:59 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Regardless of your opinion of Jimmy Buffett, the story is well written. I've always thought the whole Parrothead thing was sort of lame. But if people have fun with it, I say let your freak flag fly.
posted by bwvol at 2:02 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Recently I was in Key West, and I was so glad to be there that I almost cried from it. I had come by a kind of happy accident, and there was a sort of bitter leavening to the unexpected joy of being there -- I knew that even if I could sell up and live there the very next day, the happiness would dissipate. I would bring my black sadness with me, and even in the sunshine, it would find me.

I love the ocean; it's no small part of the reason that I live about three miles away from it. But I never see it these days. Even in the summer, I don't get by the Harbor often. When I do, my eyes are thirsty for the horizon: the sight of possibility, of escape. And I know that there is no escape in it, not from what chases me.

I don't have much of an opinion on Jimmy Buffett, but I do know that I'm a fool for tacky tropical beach nonsense in general. Tropical drinks and key lime pie are promises of relief from dukkha. Do they work? Not for long, but what else can you have? You may work in Fuckoff, Oklahoma, but you can always build a Margarita Zone in your heart.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:05 PM on February 8 [34 favorites]


I am as far from a Buffett fan as possible, but I will say this: on my honeymoon, we took a cruise. One of the excursions was a catamaran ride to an island. On that catamaran, drinking rum punch, spray in my face, with Buffett songs playing, for a little while it all made sense.

I went to college on the shores of Chesapeake Bay(ish). Like literally steps from a beach. (Not the beach, not the ocean, but sand and tidal brackish water and seagulls and blue herons and sailboats.) I listened to a lot of music that, sitting here now in a landlocked cubicle, I get nothing out of, but there is something that happens when water is salty and sand is lodged in various places it normally is not, and the gulls are crying that makes certain kinds of entertainments just right.
posted by soren_lorensen at 2:05 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


I sometimes put on his 2009 song "A Lot to Drink About" when I think about how shit-is-all-fucked-up these days. I also appreciate that he does a cover of "Lawyers Guns and Money" at his recent shows.

"It’s like vertical tailgating." Pretty fascinating how Buffett tries to produce those Buffett feels in other mediums besides music.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:05 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


drinking rum punch, spray in my face, with Buffett songs playing, for a little while it all made sense.

Look, my mom grew up, if not with Jimmy, at least with people who grew up with Jimmy. Family members of mine have played music with him casually. I mean, Baldwin County, Alabama just isn't all that big a place, or at least it certainly wasn't then when he was growing up around there, even more so for the music scene.

His songs exemplify, or try to, the whole Alabama beach (aka Redneck Rivera), go along to get along, easy going lifestyle that aspires to one day have a sailboat puttering around the various shoals and islands doing more of the same.

So, what I'm saying is, TL;DR; you are spot on. Taking his music for more than that is missing the point. I can't comment on his branding or what he's become, frankly the article made me a bit sad because I'm the first one to say/admit that once something becomes 'bigger than it's britches' that it's 99% a change for the worse, so I won't try to. But I will say that the place he comes from is very much a real thing, of that mindset and it's a damn fine ideal to shoot for if you can achieve it without shitting on others along your way (which is also anathema to that mindset for the most part).

*goes off to pour a good rum, straight up, to sip on*
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:08 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


I like to imagine he got a kick out of this Onion article 10 years ago: Darling There's Something I've Been Hiding From You -- I'm Jimmy Buffett
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:18 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


I had never heard of Jimmy Buffet until my cool older cousin took me to a concert when I was in high school in the 80s. It was a good show.
posted by 4ster at 2:18 PM on February 8


Indeed, I've heard he used to (can't speak to currently) put on a damn good show.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:19 PM on February 8


I have been an unrepentant Parrothead since college. One of my end-of-the-week, beginning-of-the-weekend traditions involved a long bubble bath with Jimmy Buffetts Greatest Hits and a bottle of rum. Yeah, there were a few instances of me standing on a towel on the fire escape, belting out the words to "Volcano". I was young.

Anyway, I think its a disservice to his songwriting abilities if people pass judgment based solely on "Margaritaville". He's got the wistful storytelling thing DOWN and even though I'm a Girl from the North Country through and through, I listen to his songs and dream of warmth and sun and the characters for whom that is Life.

I don't blame him for trading in his oversized margarita glass for a pair of hush puppies. Hell, I can't drink a fifth of rum in the bathtub before going out on the weekends anymore, either.
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:20 PM on February 8 [19 favorites]


I thought this would be about Warren Buffet

for a deeply embarrassing length of time i thought they were in fact the same person
posted by poffin boffin at 2:20 PM on February 8 [22 favorites]


He's Phoebe Buffay's brother right?

Oh, what you say? It's Buffett, with two t's?

All this time.. *sobs* all this time...
posted by hippybear at 2:29 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I can't drink a fifth of rum in the bathtub before going out on the weekends anymore, either.

I know, right? It's at least a half gallon or I'm not leaving the house!
posted by hippybear at 2:31 PM on February 8 [17 favorites]


I've always been a bit fascinated by Jimmy Buffett and the whole Parrothead thing because it's one of those huge pop cultural movements that exists almost entirely outside my personal universe; the only song of his I know I know is "Margaritaville" (and my main frame of reference for that one is the Simpsons episode where Barney and the Mary Poppins parody "Shary Bobbins" sing it), I don't know anyone who is a fan (unlike, say, Deadheads), his songs don't get played on the radio up here in Toronto, I had only the vaguest idea of what he looks like before I read this article, I don't remember ever seeing one of his bars or food or drink products for sale, etc., etc.. I don't even remember seeing his restaurant or hearing his music the one time I visited Key West (once, for one day, but still).

None of this is meant as criticism, although this passage kind of seems like an unintentional elegy for baby boomers: "Once, a long time ago, he left Key West because it had become too commercialized. Now he lives at the mall."
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:38 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


I thought this would be about Warren Buffett

They were curious, but it turns out they are not related.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:50 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I hadn't heard of him until I sat down for lunch with a couple of new colleagues - middle-aged guys - and they spoke of him in reverential terms. I forget what degree of contact with him they claimed - was it that they went to one of his bars? or their cousin bought one of his guitars? - but they clearly valued the connection.
posted by clawsoon at 2:54 PM on February 8


Did they celebrate his entire catalog?
posted by thelonius at 2:56 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


As someone who had no idea who Jimmy Buffet was 30 minutes ago, I approve of this post, of the comments and of the article.
posted by mumimor at 2:57 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


thelonius: Did they celebrate his entire catalog?

Who knows? Are there dragons lurking in there somewhere?
posted by clawsoon at 2:58 PM on February 8


He was on episode 383 of My Brother My Brother and Me ("Fins Up").

It's a good episode, and he's very charming. Plus, lionfish.
posted by minsies at 3:01 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


One of my early concert outings, back in high school, was with my dad, a Jimmy Buffet fan in those days (and maybe even now—I ought to ask him.) He's not a musical person, but he recognized my piano playing and my appreciation for lots of different music, so he got a pair of tickets for us to see Buffet at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. It was just good, cheesy fun with a crowd of people who thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Outdoor show, beach balls and various other things being circulated around the crowd. I have a memory of drinking a beer well before I legally could have (right when I should have, though) but I might be misremembering that. I'm sure he bought one or two.
posted by emelenjr at 3:04 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I'm sure I'm way overthinking this, but to me there's an actual ethical dilemna in there, which I have touched on a little as a journeyman standup comic who plays a lot of not-glamorous places.

I used to puncture people's illusions about the glamor of the job, onstage, which is easy to do both as truth-telling and as resentment after, say, an 11 hour drive to do a show in Winnemucca, Nevada or Glasgow, Montana for less money than it cost you to get there, until you deduct mileage. But the reality is that my life is still more pleasant than what most people in the audience have, by far.

And sure, they may glamourize to imagine I'm getting high with Dave Chappelle later after the show, or flirting with Sarah Silverman or whatever. I don't know if I should feel good about helping folks make it through their day by building a fantasy about my job, which they actually could achieve without that many barriers, or is cooperating with that anaesthesizing them to a crummy economy that they should be more motivated to change? I kind of wish the writer had prodded Buffett to explore that dilemna which is real and actually significant in his case.
posted by msalt at 3:05 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


I grew up in Florida. Near a beach. I did not like it, nor the sun, and didn't really care for Jimmy Buffett either.

I had a high school teacher who claimed he used to sell drugs to Jimmy Buffett. Since this guy bullshit us about everything else, nobody took it seriously. A few weeks later, the teacher was arrested for possession of some ridiculous amount of cocaine; reportedly in was in the trunk of his car, parked at school.
posted by Foosnark at 3:06 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]




Cheech and Chong go to Margaritaville. Who says no?

/perfect set up
posted by Beholder at 3:11 PM on February 8


Metafilter: Plus, lionfish.
posted by hippybear at 3:14 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


David Allan Coe was on this back in 1978.
posted by Zonker at 3:48 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


A former colleague of mine is super into the whole Parrothead thing. She's also the one whose tanning habit has left her looking older than her own mother (I was amazed but not surprised when I saw a photo of the two of them recently). It all made me wonder if the actor who played young Buffett is getting actual tans or spray tans. I hope it's the latter, for his sake. That also made me reflect upon whether it would be actionable if he acquiesced to doing the tanning-bed thing and then later developed skin cancer. I hope he doesn't, of course!

I am such a killjoy, I know. It's what I do here in the winter in my ghastly pale skin.
posted by limeonaire at 3:48 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


For the past few years, a few shows from each tour have been broadcast on margaritaville.tv Sign up and you'll get an email day of show. Sit down on your couch and enjoy.

It's a lot easier than actually going to a show, and I don't need to wear hiking boots because the bathrooms are trashed, and there's vomit on the ground.

And Nadirah Shakoor is the real reason to see the band.
posted by mikelieman at 4:04 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I've always been Buffett-adjacent or maybe Buffett curious, but could never really make the leap into full parrothead. However, I love every clause of this sentence:
IN 1979, Mr. Buffett showed up literally years late to a Rolling Stone interview, barefoot, in St. Barts, where he was living off a boat.
If someone wants to recite that sentence in an nearby arena, I will attend, pay the Ticketmaster surcharge, and wear a Hawaiian shirt.
posted by condour75 at 4:10 PM on February 8 [11 favorites]


that off in 'off the boat' makes it seem like he was bobbing in nearby waters
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:17 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


I thought this would be about Warren Buffet

Well, I think it's safe to say that Warren Buffett also does not live the Jimmy Buffett lifestyle, so you're probably okay.
posted by Naberius at 4:20 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Also, $500 million?!?

I really think it's time he pays the Mini-Mart back...
posted by Naberius at 4:23 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


The Buffett thing has been fascinating to me ever since someone told me he had a really big following, back in the early to mid 90's. This guy had lived in the Midwest, where he said Buffett was huge. I really didn't believe him. "Jimmy Buffett?" I kept saying.

It probably doesn't seem as weird now, but at the time Buffett was just some guy who had one hit song and a couple of follow ups in the 70's, all the products were not around yet. To reference another post, it was like you told me Christopher Cross was actually drawing huge crowds with a fanatical following and was really rich, except no, Christopher Cross had bigger hits initially and was taken more seriously. More like Carl Douglas.

And now this story makes it even weirder. Retire dude, WTF?
posted by bongo_x at 4:28 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Apparently Jimmy and Warren have been trying to figure out(23&meblue) how they might be related to each other for a while now.
"Bottom line: We're not related," Warren wrote to his sister Doris. We hope that despite this fact, Cousin Jimmy is still invited to Uncle Warren's family reunions.
Though the whole thing of "two filthy rich people with the same last name, we must be related" makes me suspect that the ultra-rich have a creepy obsession with DNA like the president and his father.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:29 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I seem to be oddly drawn to hobbies/fandoms where I'm not the standard demographic, so for about half of my life I had a pretty dedicated Parrothead, and really only stopped going to concerts because tickets because too expensive/difficult to get, and then the last couple of albums were disappointing (and also, I found new bands to spend all my concertgoing money on). But I still maintain that he is a vastly underappreciated songwriter/storyteller, and that he used to put on a fantastic show (and still might). In particular, I have a huge love for performers who at least still pretend to be having a good time and seem sincerely grateful to be up on that stage. I love the contradiction of the slacker lifestyle he sells and the hard work he puts into performances, because as he's said, those thousands of times he's sung "Margaritaville" or whatever have given him a life he loves, and every concert is someone's first concert and they deserve a good show. And think it's awesome that he's been live broadcasting almost every concert for free for like the last 15 years.

Plus, the tailgates before his shows used to be epic and you'll never meet a friendlier bunch of people more than happy to pour you a drink, hand you some food, and let you splash in their makeshift truck-bed-swimming-pool than Parrotheads.
posted by TwoStride at 4:36 PM on February 8 [16 favorites]


I'm not a huge fan of the music or the branding, but I can appreciate how much enjoyment many people obviously get out of it. As the article describes, it takes an enormous amount of work to appear so laid back.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:40 PM on February 8


I grew up in the upper Midwest in the 80s and 90s as the child of parrotheads. Can definitely confirm that Buffett was A Thing to a whole lot of people a long, long way from the ocean. In fact, bumpkin that I was, it was kind of a revelation when I went off to college in the northeast and learned that he was just the has-been Margaritaville guy to almost everybody.

Fun, hard to believe fact: Bob Dylan(!) named Buffett as a favorite songwriter a few years back. (You can sense the incredulity in the interviewer's follow up.) But the songs he mentions - Death of an Unpopular Poet, He Went to Paris - are good, solid songcraft, very non-beach-party vibe, and an interesting entry point for anybody wondering what the older, other stuff sounds like.

Also, though I definitely didn't realize it as a kid, Jimmy Buffett, thanks to some fine choices of cover songs, was my entry point to Steve Goodman (Banana Republics) and the Dead (Uncle John's Band). So, I guess I should thank him for that, at the least.
posted by theoddball at 4:46 PM on February 8 [10 favorites]


I sometimes wonder what music we might all listen to if we somehow lived in a universe where we had no socialized conceptions of whether music was good or bad or hip or embarrassing and instead we just listened to what we enjoyed hearing. I’d wager a lot of us would be listening to Jimmy Buffett.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:46 PM on February 8 [25 favorites]


Lyle Lovett has also spoken of Buffett as one of his songwriting heroes. And Buffett's friendship with artists like John Prine and Allen Touissant also speak well of his songwriting skills...
posted by TwoStride at 4:50 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


He Went to Paris

That song is no joke.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:09 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


a well-preserved businessman who is leveraging the Jimmy Buffett of yore in order to keep the Jimmy Buffett of now in the manner to which the old Jimmy Buffett never dreamed he could become accustomed.

That's a killer sentence.

he and his friend the novelist Herman Wouk, of all people, wrote [a play] based on Mr. Wouk’s 1965 novel, “Don’t Stop the Carnival.”

If you haven't read that book, it's really entertaining. It's one of those stories where a guy's own grip on the world increasingly escapes him - sort of a Mosquito Coast with Mai Tais. Fun to read in a stressful way, or stressful in a fun way, if dated.

.. a one-man show a little like the one Bruce Springsteen is currently starring in. But it didn’t seem economical. The theater needed to hire way too many crew members, and Mr. Buffett did the math and realized he’d lose money, compared with his take on the road.

Bookmarked for the next time someone bitches about the Springsteen tickets in my presence. In fact, the comparison at the end is good food for thought. Really, both are singers of the workaday/working class experience, but Springsteens' are the gritty day-to-day realities while Buffett's are just the other side of the coin, escape fantasies.

Though the author points out that even the escapes aren't all real escapes. Songs like "Son of a Son of a Sailor" and "Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude" are about mortality. "Boat Drinks" is about enduring a miserable winter in Boston when "everything seems to be wrong." (I've been there). Even "Margaritaville" is not necessarily celebrating a lifestyle - like, maybe a little bit, but it's also a song about an alcoholic "wasting away" who can't remember how he got his tattoo, can't find his drink ingredients, and doesn't "know the reason" he can't seem to move on with his life. Like, it's a character portrait, but not necessarily a character you actually want to be. And Buffett might not have meant it that way. After all, he had no awareness it was going to become this career-defining hit - it just struck a nerve with a stressed out audience. I mean, before that song his only other hit was "Come Monday," in which he talks about getting tired of being on the road, dreams of going hiking with his partner, and makes it pretty clear that he's not all about living in a constant tropical alcoholic blur: "I've got my hush-puppies on, I guess I never was meant for Glitter rock and roll." I think that if Margaritaville hadn't hit so hard he'd enjoy a better reputation among people who think they prefer something rootsier and indie-er. But I definitely do not fault him for embracing the financial opportunities it brought.

As a guitar player and singer-songwriter myself, I will never look down my nose at Buffett or Buffett fans. You try to write songs that so many people know, have memorized, and love to sing, songs that are so tightly crafted. He's written a lot, and not all of it is good, but when it's bad it's just bad in the way other country songwriters (because he is a country songwriter) fail at trying to be clever wordsmiths.

Finally...Latitude Margaritaville is already recruiting residents. It's sort of interesting that the photo sets and styling are identical to the tourist brochures they promote to honeymooners, except for gray hair.
posted by Miko at 5:15 PM on February 8 [14 favorites]


So basically what I'm getting from this is that "Unwindulax" was actually a roman a clef this whole time.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:18 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Direct riff.
posted by Miko at 5:19 PM on February 8


Jimmy Buffett knows how to write songs that will make money. Not songs that will go straight to #1 -- generally, that's not what he's aiming for. But songs that will hit the sweet spot that his audience expects, and hit it well.

Jimmy Buffett also knows how to write some damn fine story songs, when he wants to. The first set of songs gives him the time and creative freedom to sit down and write the other ones.

Jimmy Buffett also does a passable Elvis Presley imitation.
posted by delfin at 5:30 PM on February 8


I don't think I can pass judgement until I write a 6 minute song about getting drunk on moonshine with a bear.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:49 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


One of my all-time favorite Onion headlines.
posted by lagomorphius at 6:07 PM on February 8 [12 favorites]


He was on episode 383 of My Brother My Brother and Me ("Fins Up").

My favorite part is that his answer to somebody asking about a good book for beginning to learn about sailing is the Aubrey/Maturin historical naval adventures books.

Honestly I know almost nothing about Jimmy Buffett outside of his MBMBAM mentions. But man, his enterprises have been responsible for some absolute classic bits.

"You used to be my brother!"

Buffett or Chesney

Jimmy Buffett's Betray-alville
posted by kmz at 6:18 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


"I don't think I can pass judgement until I write a 6 minute song about getting drunk on moonshine with a bear ." - RobotVoodooPower.

Mr Buffett was adapting Lord Richard Buckley's piece . I vaguely recall that on the double live album, You Had to Be There, he credited Buckley.

And Mr. Buckley's son sued Buffett for performing it - either because he felt Buffett didn't credit the writer, or (as I remember previously reading about it) for putting curses in it that Buckley wouldn't have done in performance.
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 6:21 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I've never bought into the Buffett scene and his music always seemed way too self-aware; except for "Come Monday," which I have always thought was a damn great song.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:27 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


As the great Dolly Parton once said “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap”, you could as easily say that Buffett does a lot of work to look that lazy.
posted by dr_dank at 6:27 PM on February 8 [12 favorites]


Once again Cocoanut Pete is overlooked. Pina Coladaberg came first, people! Son of a Son of a Sailor? More like Son of a Son of a Bitch!

Apologies for the b-word, it's from the original.

As a lifelong sailor, I've never heard a better verse than:

Haul the sheet in as we ride on the wind that our forefathers harnessed before us.
Hear the bell ring as the tight rigging sings it's a son of a gun of a chorus.
posted by BeeDo at 6:41 PM on February 8 [11 favorites]


I sometimes wonder what music we might all listen to if we somehow lived in a universe where we had no socialized conceptions of whether music was good or bad or hip or embarrassing and instead we just listened to what we enjoyed hearing.

Listening to Kasey Casem's American Top 40 approximated that for me as a loner preteen, unaware that there was "urban" or "country" or "hippie" music. For me the resulting answer was a weird mix of now-cool things (Bowie, old school funk), singer songwriter stuff (Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez), and semi-novelty songs (Jim Croce's Spiders and Snakes, Helen Reddy's Angie Baby). But about the hardest rock I ever heard was "Bloody Well Right" by SuperTramp, so there were limits to what I was exposed to. BTW I remember and liked "Come Monday" but never realized that was Jimmy Buffett.
posted by msalt at 6:43 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


All y'all frontin' like you don't like my man, Jay Buffet. I pity y'all.
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 6:49 PM on February 8


IN 1979, Mr. Buffett showed up literally years late to a Rolling Stone interview, barefoot, in St. Barts, where he was living off a boat.

the opposite of this is werner herzog, who, when booked by my friend's college for a future film festival, showed up a year early and the school had to scramble to create an exciting last minute event for him to appear at, although he was reportedly not the least bit bothered by his error.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:57 PM on February 8 [26 favorites]


Spiders and Snakes is by Jim Stafford. I just bought the album a few days ago for $2. It has two other hits on it - Wildwood Weed and My Girl Bill.
posted by rfs at 7:07 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


I lived on the gulf coast in Florida in the mid-1970s. Clearwater Beach. Buffett's songs felt exactly how it felt to live there. Living in Florida as a carpenter during those years was almost a certainty of starving, and that is what I did, but it didn't cost anything to get sand on your feet, the sun in your eyes and on your shoulders and arms.

I didn't own any of his records then -- pretty much the only music I owned was a ratty case of 8 track tapes that I stole out of a car with an open back window -- but I bought them in the early to mid-1980s, five or six of them, all from the 1970s. Jimmy Buffet absolutely was not just some novelty act, he wrote some damn fine songs. I sortof love him. Playing those records took me back to the good parts of my Florida years, the sand on my feet sun on my shoulder parts, that good tired that comes at sunset, walking on sand, in and out of the salt.

I've not owned nor listened to any of his later records. I don't want to. I've never seen him play. The 70s records are what I want, they are what I think of when I think of Jimmy Buffett, when I want to feel that time.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:59 PM on February 8 [11 favorites]


More re: God's Own Drunk

1. He stopped performing that song after the Lord Buckley kerfuffle, and hasn't done it since.

2. I inadvertently heckled him during a performance of the song when I was in college in Dallas in the early 1980s by shouting out "BUDDY BEAR!!!" too loudly and enthusiastically. He responded, shut me down, and I was called Buddy Bear for a while until everyone forgot about it.
posted by yhbc at 9:28 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I sometimes wonder what music we might all listen to if we somehow lived in a universe where we had no socialized conceptions of whether music was good or bad or hip or embarrassing and instead we just listened to what we enjoyed hearing.

I first stumbled onto Mr. Buffett's stuff long before I was aware of any conceptions as to what I should think of it. And I didn't think much. Songs about hanging out and getting wasted, yet lacking any sense of rock or roll -- just sun baked easy good times, I guess, which has never really done it for me. In fact, thinking about it now, the person who introduced me to him was a girl I car pooled with, summer job, late teens, her car. She LOVED his stuff, never tired of it, played the same cassette over and over. Changes in Latitudes on one side, Havana Daydreamin' on the other. Drove me to allergies eventually, though she did give me some peyote buttons once. That was cool.
posted by philip-random at 9:55 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: did give me some peyote buttons once. That was cool.
posted by hippybear at 9:57 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


I’d wager a lot of us would be listening to Jimmy Buffett.

I'd wager you were not a teenager in the late 70's who wanted to rock out but the radio played Margaritaville every hour.
posted by bongo_x at 10:50 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Spiders and Snakes is by Jim Stafford.

Right, thanks. The thinking man's Ray Stevens.
posted by msalt at 11:41 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


The biggest WASP I know was also the biggest Parrothead I ever knew. He bought me a Buffett t-shirt because everyone ought to own one, and calmly drank margaritas in seersucker and loafers-without-socks while Buffett tunes spun.

Buffett strikes me a bit like Billy Joel: still touring, still working like mad, and a good writer who doesn’t get the respect they deserve.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:25 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I sometimes wonder what music we might all listen to if we somehow lived in a universe where we had no socialized conceptions of whether music was good or bad or hip or embarrassing and instead we just listened to what we enjoyed hearing.

Yeah, you know what, sometimes people just don't like an artist's oeuvre as a matter of personal taste, and not because they've been socialized into hating them or because they want to look cool. I've come to terms with the fact that I can't share my music with like 90% of my friends, and that's fine. That's what headphones were made for.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:19 AM on February 9 [8 favorites]


That's true, but I think it's a different issue. Plenty of people may just not like Jimmy Buffett, but at the same time, plenty of people love to sneer at him as lowbrow, partly in order to elevate their own reputation for taste. That is a real thing.
posted by Miko at 6:27 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Plenty of people may just not like Jimmy Buffett, but at the same time, plenty of people love to sneer at him as lowbrow, partly in order to elevate their own reputation for taste.

And some people criticize the conspicuous disdain of others as a way to position themselves as being open-minded or whatever. There is literally no way to have a neutral opinion about art.

Or, for that matter, about the amazing drink they serve at the 5 O'Clock Somewhere bar situated within the Wyndham Rio Del Mar Margaritaville Timeshare in Puerto Rico. It is called the Ziggy Zaggy and it is the stuff of (barely remembered) legend.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:37 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Plenty of people may just not like Jimmy Buffett, but at the same time, plenty of people love to sneer at him as lowbrow, partly in order to elevate their own reputation for taste.

I don't think of Buffett as lowbrow (especially since all of his fans that I have met were upper middle class, middle-aged white people with white collar jobs and educations) and I'd never claim to have better taste. But the central fantasy of a beach vacation just isn't that compelling to everyone. It's not a lowbrow fantasy, but it isn't a sophisticated one either -- the simplicity is precisely the attraction, I would think.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:49 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


If there's something wrong with liking music that's just fun I don't want to be right.
posted by tommasz at 6:51 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


I should have mentioned I saw him and the Coral Reefers in 1976 as the opening act to the Eagles on their Hotel California Tour. They were absolutely amazing, at times reminiscent of the J. Geils Band. The Eagles, on the other hand, were flat, bored and burned out from the road.
posted by tommasz at 7:25 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I think that if Margaritaville hadn't hit so hard he'd enjoy a better reputation among people who think they prefer something rootsier and indie-er.

"Come Monday" might make the list of my top 50 favorite pop songs. It'd almost certainly make the list of my top 100. Buffett's written some fine songs, a lot of solid songs, and a lot of, basically, novelty songs. If he isn't a revered figure outside of the Parrothead world, it's probably because it's possible to have too many "fun-in-the-sun" songs and because his talents were obscured by his own myths and marketing. If he'd disappeared after his first two or three albums—Down to Earth and High Cumberland Jubilee* are much more to my own taste than nearly everything else he's done—he'd be regarded as a great lost singer-songwriter and all the cats at reissue labels would be falling all over themselves over him.

*Damned if "The Hang-Out Gang" isn't an Arlo Guthrie song.

But the central fantasy of a beach vacation just isn't that compelling to everyone.

What's more, the Buffett "beach vacation" is—or has become over the years—the fantasy of a particular kind of beach vacation, one that's distinct from, say, the fantasy of a California beach vacation, or the fantasy of a Balearic beach vacation. More so than many (any?) popular musician(s), Buffett's spent a career mapping a specific kind of imaginary world. Like any imaginary world, it can be really appealing to people who find it appealing and a little off-putting to people who, for whatever reason, don't. (See also: Grateful Dead.)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:41 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]




In one of his books he recounts buying and refurbishing an ancient Grumman Albatross, clearly more of a rich guys indulgence than portrayed in the autobiografantasy but so much cooler than a private jet.
posted by sammyo at 8:20 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


IN 1979, Mr. Buffett showed up literally years late to a Rolling Stone interview, barefoot, in St. Barts, where he was living off a boat.

This is especially odd because there is a lot of retail/commercial turnover in island countries, so if you just show up years later there's a pretty good chance that Rolling Stone became St Barts Commercial Property Group or St Barts Clam Shack Restaurant instead of Rolling Stone offices. But I'd like to think they were laid back kind of island companies, so they'd just say "Jimmy Buffet is here for an interview? Send him in!" Or maybe they were at such a place, and the interviewer didn't want to lose his story so he just waited.....

I find his lyrics fine but his music incredibly boring so I could never be a Parrothead. Lazy '70s era acoustic strumming & drumming & production is almost as bad as '80s rock strumming & drumming (think The Stroke by Billy Squier).
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:33 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


On or about September 13, 2001, I went like most of my friends to donate blood. Being a New Yorker abroad in the Great Lakes region I was at a loss for how to help. I was signed up to be a regular blood donor, and was surprised to discover, when I arrived for the next donation, that the October Red Cross Blood Drive was Jimmy-Buffett-themed. But I had only vaguely heard of Jimmy Buffett, so my boyfriend had to explain the whole thing to me as we were bled into bags prepared by nurses with stuffed parrots and fraying straw hats. I guess he did a good job, because I married him, but we have yet to take much of a beach vacation together.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:22 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Sneering at people because they don't like something "lowbrow" is the new sneering at people for liking something "lowbrow".
posted by tobascodagama at 11:33 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


I'd wager you were not a teenager in the late 70's who wanted to rock out but the radio played Margaritaville every hour.

I'd wager you were not a teenager in the late 70's who wanted to rock out but the fucking radio played fucking Margaritaville every fucking hour.

ftfy
posted by philip-random at 12:06 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


... and thanks all for reminding me of Come Monday -- that is a good song
posted by philip-random at 12:15 PM on February 9


In Atlanta in the 80's, the parking lot of a bar named Margaritaville, at Spring and 14th, was a huge punk hangout.
posted by thelonius at 12:19 PM on February 9


I don't think of Buffett as lowbrow (especially since all of his fans that I have met were upper middle class, middle-aged white people with white collar jobs and educations)

There's an important distinction between intellectually lowbrow and economically lowbrow. Think salesmen, P.F. Chang's, cruise ships, big sectional couches, R.V.s, fraternities, college football boosters -- that's a moneyed world full of upper middle class white people with white collar jobs and educations. But lowbrow.
posted by msalt at 12:31 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


In Atlanta in the 80's, the parking lot of a bar named Margaritaville, at Spring and 14th, was a huge punk hangout.

688 was at Spring and 3rd. Maybe they wandered up there to get a piña colada. Spring and 14th these days: Midtown Atlanta's Tallest Tower in Ages has Launched.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:24 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Lowbrow specifically means not intellectually demanding. It has little to do with economic class.
posted by Miko at 1:35 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


I really, really hate the word lowbrow (I may even hate the word "middlebrow" even more). When does describing something as lowbrow ever not imply something shitty about its fans?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:38 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


I hate it too. I hate the entire concept. Like I was trying to say, dislike whatever you dislike, but kindly spare the judgment about how smart or tasteful other people are for liking it.
posted by Miko at 1:40 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


When does describing something as lowbrow ever not imply something shitty about its fans?

Legendary Filmmaker and Lowbrow Virtuoso John Waters Gets Even Filthier for Our Lowbrow Times.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:44 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Ha! Good example!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:46 PM on February 9


688 was at Spring and 3rd. Maybe they wandered up there to get a piña colada.

The clientele of the Margaritaville parking lot was mostly underage, and 688 was pretty strict at the door. Also the punks kind of hated 688, iirc.
posted by thelonius at 3:09 PM on February 9


I really, really hate the word lowbrow (I may even hate the word "middlebrow" even more). When does describing something as lowbrow ever not imply something shitty about its fans?

It's fundamentally a very dated concept but in the last fifty years or so a whole lot of "lowbrow" seems to have been reclaimed as respectable-in-a-way... kind of like in this article. Its fans know what it is and they know what they like. So I don't think of it being necessarily insulting when somebody uses the word now.

It's the aspirational "middlebrow" that still seems to get disrespect on both ends.
posted by atoxyl at 3:49 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I mean we're talking about a term that goes back to, like, phrenology, so obviously it's dated.
posted by atoxyl at 3:58 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Also the punks kind of hated 688, iirc.

I can imagine. My newly-eligible-to-drink self adored it. The first time I was there I saw a drag queen and someone shoot up in the bathroom and I was certain I was in one of the hippest places on Earth.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:00 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Our band opened for The Golden Palominos there, before I was legal to drink. I think I was 19 and Georgia had already raised the age to 20 or 21. First time I had been in the place. Probably the pinnacle of our career. I think the guy who was producing our EP cancelled some coke debts to make that happen, because there's no way to explain that booking otherwise.

There was an incident where some people got bounced out of there for slam dancing or something like that, and then organized a retaliatory beating against 688 owner Steve May. Jumped him in the street and beat him with bricks and pipes, putting him in the hospital. There were a lot of people who thought they knew who did it, but no evidence and no case. The victim couldn't remember anything, as happens with head injuries. Of course NOT ALL PUNKS, but there were some violent assholes in that scene. Commie Rick also got beaten up around that time.
posted by thelonius at 6:26 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Loved this article and the discussion. This is maybe the only time when my love of metafilter and my love of Jimmy Buffett will overlap, so I thought I'd share a playlist of some of my very favorite, lesser known, Buffett songs.
posted by kms at 8:36 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


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