An effective deconstruction of Jimmy Buffett

* As I begin writing this, It’s 10:44 p.m.  I’ve been waiting for 25 minutes for someone to help me dub some video from my camcorder to TV-friendly DVC Pro tape.

Nearly four hours ago, I met Rob downtown.  We joined Matt Rodewald and Mike the photographer and headed out for our Top Secret Halloween project.

Finally, at 10:55, my hero arrives.  Rob from maintenance helps me jack into a deck and start dubbing.  As soon as the 10 p.m. news finished, everyone else who could help me ran screaming from the building, so I hope this sticks.

It’s midnight and finally, my tape is finished dubbing.  Now I must log the shots and soundbites from my tape and Mike’s tape for editing.  Working in TV is wall-to-wall excitement!

Tune in Friday morning for a splatteriffic Halloween extravaganza!  (I am sworn to secrecy as to the true nature of this project.)

* It’s official.  God hates baseball.

* I love you.  I hate you.  Same difference, say scientists.

* The average couple gives up on romance just two years, six months and 25 days into a marriage. That’s encouraging.

* Michigan Democrats urge you to call up for some hot absentee voter on absentee voter action.

* I scream, you scream, we all scream for… human feces.

* Bosses should let employees go nuts with Facebook and MySpace, says the National Institute for Goofing Off.

* Microsoft set to unveil its next version of Windows. Good.  Vista is the worst thing to happen to computers since ever.

* Jimmy Buffett backs Barack Obama. I hate Jimmy Buffett more than SARS, clowns and Al Qaeda put together.

Jimmy Buffett might be the worst thing to happen to music ever.

I don’t write that lightly.  I’ve considered the horrible legacy of one Mr. Kenny G.  I’ve mulled the damage done by Nickelback.  But no amount of Lou Begas or Gerardos or Aces of Base can lay claim to the virtual music wasteland of Mr. Buffett.

“Why’s he picking on Jimmy Buffet?” you ask.  “The man is harmless!”

I beg to differ, my friend.  Jimmy Buffett has two factors that make him a dangerous musical python:

1) His music sucks.
2) He propagates the lifestyle of the homeless.

Let’s examine these claims, shall we?

Does his music suck?  Without question.  Everything is laid back and mellow, as though it were the acoustic guitar version of something you’d hear in an elevator.  It’s repetitive and banal.  The vocal range required is two notes, max.  When you hear his songs performed by a drunken karaoke participant, they are indistinguishable from the original recordings. All of Buffett’s songs sound vaguely like adult nursery rhymes.  Replace the words “bottle” with “beer” and “cradle” with “beach,” and you’ve got an instant Buffett classic.


Rock-a-bye, beach bum, in the hammock.
When the wind blows, the hammock will rock.
When the beer comes, you’ll drink it right down.
And then you will nap until more beer comes.

I should warn Jimmy Buffett, I’ve just copyrighted that song.  Don’t even think about co-opting it, jerk.

Now, to my second claim, Jimmy Buffett wants everyone to be homeless.  He just wants you to lie on the beach and drink and eat the occasional cheeseburger.  This is not an inspirational message.  This is something your friends want you to do when they’re high.

More to the point, Buffett has a legion of “Parrotheads.”  These are fans who wear Hawaiian shirts, get plastered and mumble his songs back to him in concert.  There is no dignity to be had in a Hawaiian shirt.

Here’s what runs through the typical Parrothead’s mind in the moments leading up to a Jimmy Buffett concert:

“Man, what a rough week.  I had such problems with the Mitchell account.  My boss just doesn’t get it.  Boy, this beer tastes good.  I wish I was going to the beach right now.  But hey, the beach is a state of mind.  I wish I drove a dune buggy instead of a Jeep Grand Cherokee.  That would really blow my boss’ mind.  I can’t believe I’m wearing flip flops to a stadium!  I should quit my job and live in a tiki hut somewhere.  I hope Jimmy invites me on stage to sing ‘Margaritaville.’  I bet he’ll notice me.  This shirt has, like, a dozen parrots on it.  And if he does bring me up, I’m gonna give him that salt shaker I have stashed in my pocket.  I’ll be all, ‘Look, Jimmy! I found it!’  And we’ll laugh and laugh and he’ll bring me along on the road and we’ll be best buds and I will quit my job, leaving my child without the health insurance she so desperately needs to continue her dialysis.”

Many songwriters would attempt to enlighten or encourage their audience.  Not Buffett.  All his songs sound as if they were written and performed while lying down.  Any sort of exertion is verboten in Buffett’s world.  You must lie completely still and forget about anything that matters to you.  You can achieve the same effect by placing a rag soaked in chloroform over your face.

I’m pretty sure the moment you start liking Jimmy Buffett is the moment you give up any hope of improving your life.  It’s also the moment you stop caring about things like chord changes or rhythm or sobriety.

Ultimately, I don’t think it will be too hard to break Parrothead Nation of its obsession.  All we need to do is unplug their CD players.  Since their will to move will have been atrophied by years of Buffett hypnosis, they would merely lie on their couches until the spell subsided.  At that point, they’d realize how many years of their lives had passed without their knowledge, and then maybe they’d wish to rejoin society.

But that’s a lot to ask from alcoholics who enjoy an artist whose musical prowess is put to shame by the average jingle from a mediocre carpet commercial.


45 responses to “An effective deconstruction of Jimmy Buffett

  1. FINALLY someone other than me sees the stupidity of being a “buffet” fan!!

    No one could have summed it up more succinctly than this. Thank you!!

  2. I am a 20- something young African american girl from the suburbs and I LOOVE Jimmy Buffet. He is my inspiration to make it to the weekends for the sunny beach in my mind

  3. My only problem withMr.Buffett is his political

  4. What is wrong with escaping from the reality of the way of the world these days. Through Jimmy’s songs we can feel like smiling a little more. What is wrong with that. Those that slam him really don’t understand him. He comes from modest roots and has developed a tremendous following. One of the most successful singer, songwriters of our time. Rock on Jimmy. Rock till you drop.

  5. Theblindhomer

    Wow. Appears someone had their childhood interrupted by speed metal.

    It is too bad that the whole concept of Buffett’s music is lost on you. And it is also obvious that you actually have not listened to much Buffett beyond two songs that you have heard on the radio.

    I mean, this song right here just screams leave your job and live on a beach in the sun:


    Lyrics to Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On :
    (Jimmy Buffett and Matt Betton)

    I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man
    Floating down canal
    It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands
    It always just says now
    Now you may be thinking that I was had
    But this watch is never wrong
    And If I have trouble the warranty said
    Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

    And it rained, It was nothing really new
    And it blew, we’ve seen all that before
    And it poured, the Earth began to strain
    Pontchartrain leaking through the door, tides at war

    If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead
    It will make you strong
    Don’t try to explain it just nod your head
    Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

    And it rained, It was nothing really new
    And it blew, seen all that before
    And it poured, the Earth began to strain
    Pontchartrain buried the 9th Ward to the 2nd floor

    According to my watch the time is now
    Past is dead and gone
    Don’t try to shake it just nod your head
    Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

    Don’t try to shake it just bow your head
    Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On


    But, hey, hang in there, keep your chin up, and I am sure that Megadeth will tour North America again soon.

  6. I DO NOT AGREE with Jimmy Buffett’s endorsement of OBAMA, however, everyone needs a fantasy escape for an hour or two, whether it be a good book, a fishing trip, or a Buffett concert. Not everyone who goes to the Buffett concerts needs to drink or smoke dope. It is merely a form of entertainment.
    I think that the author needs to lighten up & learn to enjoy different aspects of life.

  7. You might want to remember that Jimmy Buffett is one of less than ten authors of all time who had works on the New York Times bestseller list for fiction and non-fiction simultaneously. Not the hallmark of a homeless, spiritless, indolent beach bum, eh? Neverthless, I think that his endorsement of Obama, while expected, was extraordinarily stupid.

  8. He doesn’t want everyone to be homeless or lie on the beach non-stop. It is a state of mind and if you don’t get that, you are missing out. I almost feel sorry for you!

  9. I got hooked on Jimmy before he was famous and when I was lazy.
    That is why Jimmy Buffett is doing a Vote for Obama concert in Tamps. You gotta see the video about Peggy Joseph on Miami News.
    Obama is going to buy her groceries and fill her tank and pay her rent!

  10. ooo – stop sipping on the hatorade ben!

    people don’t judge other people for being fans of the yankees or other group with a cult following or going to 5 of their games in a 2 week period. anyone that doesn’t enjoy partying, laughing and being a little crazy is not worth worrying about anyway.

  11. Your lack of JB undestanding has lead me to reconsider my secret blog crush on you.

  12. Pingback: My Opinion > Yours « Ben’s Breakfast Blog

  13. oneparticularph

    Man…You must be one “Up Tight” young man.

    Get over it. You have much bigger things to worry about. If you don’t like Jimmy, don’t listen to him. It’s as simple as that.

    Get a Life…

  14. Jimmy Buffet just had a birthday AND he’s a super smart business man

  15. I think it is important to make a distinction between Jimmy Buffet’s persona and that of his fans.

    During college, I waited tables at a popular bar that hosted ParrotHead gatherings in the Summer months. It seemed to me that most of his songs, (at least those favored by the ParrotHeads), were quite similar in construct to those light-hearted country novelty songs that have catchy, and sometimes very clever, lyrical hooks.

    And since I wasn’t a JB expert, I was willing to entertain the possibility that he had more thoughtful songs in his catalogue. But one wouldn’t know it since the ParrotHeads usually played the same 8 JB songs repeatedly .
    Thus I wondered if the ParrotHeads actually knew any Buffet songs *other* than the ones about drinking margaritas, eating cheeseburgers, changing latitudes, or running from imminently erupting volcanoes.

    Now. About the Parrothead gatherings – Let me tell you that there is absolutely nothing appealing about groups of profusely sweating, red-faced, balding, paunchy, middleaged drunk guys in hawaiin shirts staring at your chest as they group sing “honey, why don’t we get drunk and screw”. How can a girl refuse ? Quite easily I assure you.

    Note that this behavior might not be representative of all Parrotheads but in discussing this with other friends who have encountered them, this seems to be required ParrotHead behavior -at least in bars.

    To be fair to Jimmy – I actually ran across an interview with him wherein he indicated that he finds it very awkward when he personally encounters a fan who quotes back his lyrics to him as if seeking approval and/or confirmation that the beach party lifestyle is the way to go. Evidently the typical response is “its just a song…. just a song”.

    In conclusion I don’t think that JB is necessarily advocating under achievement, binge drinking, public regurgitation, or chasing women half your age, though some of his fans clearly do.

  16. You are entitled to your opinions but you are an ass.

  17. VERY funny overview of JB, Ben. Thanx! thot i’d share mine:
    I have tried to give Jimmy Buffett’s stuff a chance. But fer eg; whenever I hear that female chorus join in;
    Cheeseburger in paradise (Pair uh DIIIICE!)
    aaauuugh! So damn… well… cheezy!
    sounds like a cheap pop tune. just too simple.
    sounds like some theme for a small burger joint chain.
    and that Southern fried accent. I’d like to throw that on the grill and forget it for a few weeks.
    I mean, what does he do; watch Dukes of Hazzard on TV while he’s writing these songs?
    “Awn thuh thereyushowuld-uv-udveyunchoor”
    “Dayown thayut Spayuneeyish haaahwayuh!”

    and his lyrics are overly simplistic and cute, (sometimes bordering on the infantile) rhyming anything just for the sake of rhyming often. “zucchini fettuchini”.
    and his blatant rip of of:
    “The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful”
    i mean c’mon. This ain’t a song title, it’s an old joke.

    His “Changes in attitude” is a rip off of the old “Sonora’s Death Row.” listen to Leo Kottke’s rendition.

    How bout this:
    “I like mine with lettuce and tomato
    Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes
    Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
    Well good God almighty which way do I steer, for my…”
    I could NEVER, no matter how drunk i got, imagine myself singing that pap.
    that’s not poetic or evocative or inspiring.
    That is a construction worker’s conversation; reciting his shopping list and urges of the moment.

    A web site ( that tries to understand the attraction of Buffet and his cult generously explains: “Jimmy Buffet’s music can be best described as adult nursery rhymes celebrating drunkenness, laziness and promiscuity” “It can aptly be categorized as yuppie muzak. The ubiquitous xylophone and maracas create a nauseating faux island music experience” “This clown and his band are nothing more than a wedding/bar band that got lucky and found a nitch of idiots with more money that taste. The fans often refer to themselves as Parrot Heads who adorn themselves in silly straw hats, fake Hawaiian shirts, tight Khaki shorts, sandals and those sun glasses with the strings attached.”

    I listened to pirate at forty just now.
    sounds formulaic. that b/g voices; done a thousand times before. It’s a generic template for a pop song.

    and his appropriation of carribean, marimba and mexican musical elements and motifs to flavor his songs that damned near sound all the same, makes ya realize; OK, he originally composed ditties for Disney and had the flash: “Hey! I could create a cult following darn near what the grateful dead had”. (or rather: “Dern neyar whaut thuh guh-rate fuwol deyad heyud”.
    And he did.
    I give him an “E” for effort. and marketing.
    But no more of my time.
    OK, he makes thousands of people happy. Especially when he’s in concert and ya have these swarms of yuppies in their tommy bahama fake tropical wear all singing and swaying in unison. More power to him and his cult. More CD’s for all them, too. Cuz i just don’t buy it.

    Oh. and his margaritaville tequila features some of the most pretentious copy ever written on a label on a bottle of any kind since adam and eve.
    Just a taste, so yer cranium doesn’t implode:
    “Where is margaritaville? It’s in the tropics between the port of indescision and southwest of disorder.”
    His tourist traps; “Margaritaville” are an assault to the senses.
    read one review here:

    (“hey. Why doesn’t anyone wanna leave Margaritaville? Cuz ya haveta go through Hangovertown to do it.”)

    His forgettable, snore inducing sllloooowww throwaway songs shanghai your brain and force it to board the boredom boat and float to somnambulistic oblivion. The only recourse is to run screaming to any other brand of tequila but his, to wash away the K-mart level musical experience.

    Other than that, I like him.

  18. Whoa Bud!
    That’s some passionate distaste for ol JB. That’s alright though, just know that the laid back mellow state of mind will still always be here for you,

    Also, maybe consider a vacation.

  19. Lucinda-Walsh-Dixon-Montgomery

    Jimmy Buffett has such a sexy cute million dollar smile. I can stare at him 4ever.

  20. namastelove

    I voted for Obama, and I did so because I wanted to, not because various celebrities endorsed him. And now he’s the president, so…yeah…

    But dude, your assessment of his music is spot-on! People who are freaking out over your opinion of music are silly. Adults have the right to choose what music they like. I guess people like us just “don’t get it,” and that sends the parrotheads into a frenzy of staunchly defending their lord and savior! lolz. ;)

    Another blogger described his music as “soft, safe, and totally lame.” I think you summed it up with the last paragraph of this blog. My disdain for the insufferable Buffett music stems from my parents’ fandom and torturing me and my sister with an endless Buffett-a-thon on long roadtrips. I’m a bit of a musical connoisseur myself, having extremely eclectic tastes spanning most genres and time periods, but I have to draw the line somewhere, damnit. ;)

    And to all the people who slammed this guy’s opinion on Mr. Buffett, the internet is a big, wonderful place! If you love Jimmy so much, start a fan blog and extole his virtues there for those of us who simply “don’t understand.”

  21. namastelove

    oops, I screwed up my comment if you could fix it in your moderation…I meant to say that Kimo St. James summed it up in the last paragraph of HIS comment…oopsy…

  22. It’s OK to not be a Fan of Jimmy Buffett, but you should know something about a topic before you pontificate so vigorously. Man, you don’t have a clue. While not a Parrothead, I’m certainly a fan of Jimmy’s. I wrote a book about the effect of the Internet on PH’s named “JimmyDotCom: The Evolution of a Phan.” I’ve met literally 10’s of Thoushands of Buffett Fans, and none of them were homeless. I went to every Buffett Show of a Tour Season, so I’ve done a little research, which I recommend you do.

  23. You have my full Jimmy Buffett hate support!

  24. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, nice try Benny! Buffett’s one of the giants of our time. Fantastic writer of both songs and novels. He’s a workaholic but you wouldn’t know that because you’re so busy listening to your no-alternative basement bands that permeate the “New Music” stations. You mentioned some other acts that you call lame but I wouldn’t put Nickleback in that category. They rock and they ARE commercial. Note to you: commercial is not a dirty word. Commercial means popular and successful.

  25. Fuck you! You have nothing better to do but to dog on people. Get a fucking life you ignorant ass. It’s people like you that make civilization crumble.

  26. Agent Cooper

    Thanks for the wonderful sum-up. I have been forced to listen to almost non-stop Buffett at work the last few days, and I’m about to go postal.

    There is no doubt about it: Satan plays Jimmy Buffett in the ninth level of Hell to torture intelligent souls.

    Jimmy Buffett is the absolute worst musician/singer in the known universe. I would much rather go to a Justin Bieber/Bret Michaels double-header.

  27. I’d rather listen to Tom Petty who is just as relaxed, but has a much larger vocabulary, voice range, musical talent, and focus then Buffet.

    “State of Mind”. LOL. I can be relaxed and fancy free without listening to Buffet’s tepid, monotonous, trite, and indisguishable brand of crap.

    Good article. Buffet stinks.

  28. Just like to add that artists like Willie Nelso, Tom Petty, etc., appear to be CREATING music. Buffet appears to be MARKETING music.

  29. I am glad we live in a country where you are allowed to make stupid comments about a great man like Jimmy B. I was entertained by your comments despite being a HUGE Buffett fan. I noticed that this blog was the second on a Google search of “Jimmy Buffett Endosements.” Congratulations on becoming infamous on the coat tails of an amazing American Story, Jimmy Buffett. I also agree that the endorsement of OBAMA was a big mistaka – Fins up!

    Big Papa

  30. I want to thank you because after reading this, I have a response and idea for tomorrow’s blog on my own site. I think my analysis about your tirade is best summed up with a quote: “It is better to be silent, and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt”.
    I like others, do not agree with Buffett’s “left leanings”, but he personally has raised millions of dollars for hurricane relief as well as the recent concert to help clean up the gulf. Parrothead Clubs around the country do the same.

  31. I hate Buffett. He’s undeserving of his success. Fuck parrots, too.

  32. And how much money have YOU made on your endeavors???

  33. this blog entry reminds me of the time bill hicks said michael bolton sucks during one of his acts and had some people in the audience object. which, is what we are seeing here in the comments. good job. fuck jimmy buffet. and his fans.

  34. So you don’t like J.B. so what ? He has given millions the pleasure of his music, his environmental causes and humanitarian support. When you are as successful as he is, can write as well as he can, are as well respected as he is in all sorts of social circles then you may get someone’s attention. Until that point in time you are just an uptight, critical, waste of human flesh.
    When may we expect your next best seller ?

  35. Fuck jb

  36. Jimmy Buffet is a fucking musical stain. Also, the fact that he endorsed Obama and this pissed Buffet fans off…I had no idea that Buffet fans were not only stupid and willing to accept the blandest of music as “entertainment”, they’re also right-wing neo-cons. Hilarious. I guess if you’re a shitbag, might as well go all the way, huh?

  37. Everyone, I think Ben and the other apparent haters are doing this completely tongue in cheek. If it’s anything other, then they must be writing from one of ‘those’ kinds of hospitals. Nice helmuts boys.

  38. “Ward, don’t you think you’re being a little tough on The Beaver?”.

    I’m with ya on some of this, but the guy (did) stick his neck out, and took his shot (unlike the majority of bohunks who cop to a weekly, and the gold watch). It may not all be Stephen Foster and Elmer Bernstein, but in many ways, that would wear thin as well. His fan base is one that pretty much created itself, through Buffett’s tireless early touring. While you and I were talking pussy over $3.50 pitches of beer, he was busting his ass on the road, trying to scratch out a living at what he loved doing; and you can’t fault the guy for that, can you? Is he worth millions now? Yes. Did he know that would eventually happen in the beginning? Of course not, that all came from opportunities he cultivated busting his ass

    You and I live in a world, where Adam Sandler is a movie star, Keanu Reeves actually gets paid to act, and George Bush held the highest office in the land. Compared to the atrocities above, Buffett’s an alter boy.

  39. I too hate Jimmy Buffet. It is a hate that burns deep within me. I love your blog.

  40. 2 reasons why I don’t like your post
    1) saying “his music sucks” is just about the weakest argument I’ve ever heard in my life. If your going to write this, do it from a neutral perspective. Give me a logical explanation why. There is nothing wrong with your opinion, but to me, your credibility just took a nose dive.
    2) Just because some of us don’t want to constantly think about the pressures of everyday life, does not make them homeless.

    It doesn’t matter if I am a die hard parrothead or an intense Buffett-hater, this post was poorly written.

  41. I worked for Buffett in Key West in the early 80´s he is not a nice man, he uses people and then spits them out. His charity work is done with major publicity to make himself look or feel better. Charity work should be done quietly. There is nothing good about the man

  42. Buffett indeed sucks. He wasn’t good in the 70s and nothing has changed. His songs are all derivative, with no variance in sound or rhythm or message.
    For the rest of my life I will be scarred by the fat yuppy beeotch I worked with that sang his crap songs every day out loud with no music playing. There was not a single individual in the office that didn’t want to do bad things to her.
    And I lived with a pretend hippie in college, you know, the kid from the millionaire family that thinks he is a real hippie because he grew his hair 6 inches long and smoked pot a couple times. Nice guy, a bit of a pretender though. His greatest sin was listening to the monotone boredom known as Jimmy Buffett and James Taylor. My God, what depressing, boring, unimaginative, poppy music.
    The worst though are the fans. A whole crowd of fat, old, yuppyish, boring non-music fans swaying drunkenly, yammering back the boring and unimaginative lyrics, before they pass out in a drunken stupor. The same crap songs that have captivated them for decades. How simple minded must someone be to love the same song for decades, while listening to it over and over? I am a fan of many musical genres, as are most of my friends. Just not those genres or artists that are formulaic and boring. And we don’t listen to the same music for decades, especially if it is bad.

  43. What Eastern European country were you belched out of?
    Don’t like the music? Turn the fuckn knob……

  44. What Eastern European country were you belched out of?
    Don’t like the blog post? Turn the fuckn knob……

  45. Dear All – Jimmy Buffet being rich does not mean he writes good songs. If his being rich means anything at all it’s that there are plenty of consumers with horrible musical taste. That is all. You are welcome.

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