Songlines of a Parrothead
I still remember myfirst Jimmy Buffet CD – Songs We Know by Heart. I was thirteen and ordered it as part of my 8 free CDs from Columbia for joining their music club. The order was a mixture of terrible early 90s pop music and a few artists from the classic rock genre. I was at that age where it was becoming cool to shun artists of your own generation for those of previous generations – yet I still couldn’t shake the sounds of Bel Biv Devoe.
I was hooked from the first time I pushed play. I didn’t know if Margaritaville was a real place or even what a Margarita was, but I wanted to go. Since then I have been a lifelong Parrothead. Buffett’s characters and lyrics have gripped my soul and spoke to my imagination. Since that “first look”, his songs have been background music for the movie of my life.
In high school, my career outlook could best be described by A Pirate Looks at 40. I was utterly bewildered on what I wanted to be when I grew up (still am) and took one of those career assessment tests. The results came back unable to assess. “My occupational hazard was my occupation’s just not around.”
Yes, I am a pirate two hundred years too late
Cannons don’t thunder there’s nothin’ to plunder
I’m an over forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late
In college I related more to the lyrics of Why Don’t We Get Drunk… and you can fill in the rest. Occasionally, I did. Spring Breaks were to an anthem of Boat Drinks. I think I even broke up with an ex-girlfriend or two with lines from The Weather is Here, I Wish you were Beautiful.
He Went to Paris was one of the first, and only, songs I learned to play on my guitar. I remember strumming and singing it for my Ecuadorian friends while studying abroad in college. It was a very Jimmy Buffett moment with me on the guitar singing in some Banana Republic.
Now he lives in the islands, fishes the pilins
And drinks his green label each day
Writing his memoirs, losin his hearin
But he don’t care what most people say
I wanted my life to be like the characters in his songs. Almost Hemingwayesque filled with adventure, intrique, and exotic places. Being in Ecuador, I almost felt like I was a character from Havana Daydreaming – dodging rocks from protestors, running from tear gas, and bribing police to cross territory boundaries.
Stashed his trash in Ecuador, bought a good suit of clothes.
Flew on up to Mexico, standin’ by the shore.
Waiting for some mystery man, to pay him for his time.
Thinkin’ about all the money he made,
couldn’t help to ease his mind
Havana daydreamin’ oh he’s just dreamin’ his life away.
Love and Luck is what I listen to whenever I am down. “With a little love and luck you will get by.” Changes in Lattitudes, Changes in Attitudes is what I sing to myself as I walk through the airport. “Reading departure signs in some strange airport reminds me of places I’ve been I’ll go.” Tryin’ to Reason with Hurricane Season is what I listen to the morning after an all night binge. It’s also the second, and only other, song I know on the guitar.
Stood up and tried to focus,
I hoped I wouldn’t have to look far.
I knew I could use a Bloody Mary,
So I stumbled next door to the bar.
Currently, I look at my life and hear Son of a Son of Sailor playing in the background and dream of being a published author.
As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin man
I have chalked up many a mile
Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks
And I learned much from both of their styles
Where it all ends I can’t fathom my friends
If I knew I might toss out my anchor
So I cruise along always searchin for songs
Not a lawyer a thief or a banker
A few lines from Migration also come into play (my wife is from Texas).
Got a Caribbean soul I can barely control
And some Texas hidden here in my heart
Coming off of our trip to Costa Rica, I think I was stuck in Parrothead mode. I wasn’t ready to return to the working professional world of account management from a week at the beach. Alas, Jimmy Buffett was playing at the end of the week in Charlotte and we bought a pair of impromptu tickets to the show. It was time for some Conky Tonkin’.
It was my wife’s first show and my second in what turned out to be an evening we plan to live out each year until Jimmy Buffett retires. It wasn’t the crazy raucous vomiting on your shoes crowd like we were expecting. (I guess that is more of a Kenny Chesney audience.) Instead, we saw fans of all ages coming together to celebrate life, beer, good music, and fun-loving souls. The concert was the ideal transition back to reality.