Anybody remember when Jimmy Buffett was a good songwriter? Anyone? It’s been a hell of a long time since he was. He’s a hell of a lot richer now that he has learned the fine art of pandering to the lowest common denominator. It’s just a shame to think of some of the words he wrote and compare them to the Sag Harbor dwelling, corporatized, profit margins, TV dinner selling, franchised bar owning, pre-packaged, manufactured fun, microphone dropping national anthem singing faux Bacchus he has become.
Would you believe Jimmy Buffett once wrote:
He went to Paris looking for answers
To questions that bothered him so
He was impressive, young and aggressive
Saving the world on his own
But the warm Summer breezes
The French wines and cheeses
Put his ambition at bay
And Summers and Winters
Scattered like splinters
And four or five years slipped away
Or what about:
He died about a month ago while winter filled the air
And though I cried I was so proud to love a man so rare
He’s somewhere on the ocean now that’s where he oughta be
With one hand on the starboard rail he’s wavin’ back at me
Years grow shorter, not longer,
the more you’ve been on your own.
Feelin’s for movin’ grow stronger’
so you wonder why you ever go home,
wonder why you ever go home.
I used to rule my world from a pay phone
And ships out on the sea
But now times are rough
And I got too much stuff
Can’t explain the likes of me
But there’s this one particular harbour
So far but yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear
Pay phones all were ringing as the crowd went roarin’ by
Lovely dancers swaying to an island lullaby
Beside the southern ocean taking stock of what’s to be
Writing you this letter that you’ll probably never see
But I can’t help but be
Ruled by inconsistency
Not unique just distantly in love
So I stopped by the roadside and I gave her five dollars
She took it then kissed me and gave me a note
She told me just to read it then mail it in Nashville
On old loose leaf paper to her mother she wrote
She said Momma I’m fine if you happen to wonder
I don’t have much money but I still get around
I haven’t made church in near thirty-six Sundays
So fuck all those West Nashville grand ballroom gowns
Yea, she’s a long way from the West Nashville grand
I’ve done a bit of smugglin’
I’ve run my share of grass
I made enough money to buy Miami
But I pissed it away so fast
Never meant to last, never meant to last
I have been drunk now for over two weeks
I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks
But I’ve got to stop wishin’
Got to go fishin’, I’m down to rock bottom again
Just a few friends, just a few friends
Ceilin’ fan stirs the air
Cigar smoke did swirl,
A fragrance on the pillow case
And he thinks about the girl.
Spillin’ wine wine and sharin’ good times
She sure could make him smile.
He pays her well but what the hell
He’ll be movin’ in a little while, Havana daydreamin’,
Oh he’ll be dreamin’ his life away.
For a while I was all in on his albums and then, well I wasn’t. Thing is, I bought a few on momentum thinking that the previous album was just an aberration and the next one would be good. I was not right in that assumption and I gave up.
I was thinking about the musicians I listen to and realized I first heard of them through Buffett’s albums. Now, you gotta remember I first heard him when I was ten and my older brother got the Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes album. I’m confident I would have found them later on because of life, living and listening, but the first mention of them or my first recognition of them as artists was through Buffett’s albums. I am thankful for that, but I can not forgive him for writing Math Suks. Yes, he has a song by that title.
Here’s a quick musical tree of who I heard about in his lyrics or heard covers of through his songs:
As I was writing this I was thinking to not forget Johnny Clegg and then I forgot him.