Wasting Away?

Warm weather is Jimmy Buffett weather. I drove down to Coffee Labs this morning on my day off with the sun roof open and a Buffett CD blasting. Good stuff. It’s a little known fact that I’m a Parrothead.

That’s the name for hardcore Jimmy Buffet fans, those of us passionate about his music, his poetic lyrics, and his message of Caribbean escapism. Sure I take the whole thing with a grain of (margarita) salt. But why shouldn’t I fantasize about selling all my possessions, buying a seaplane, moving to Aruba, sipping “boat drinks,” and opening a B&B?

The best Buffett songs are actually the more obscure ones. Sure you can hear “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” on your average lite FM station. But that’s not the Jimmy Buffett worth listening to. I’m talking about songs like “The Great Filling Station Holdup,” “Tin Cup Chalice,” “Ragtop Day,” and “The Pascagoula Run.” Those are the songs that inspire and speak to the vast variety of our human triumphs, tragedies, and foibles.

Is Buffett’s music contrary to the Christian faith? We’ll there’s certainly a sense of loose morals in song titles and lyrics:

Sex: “Why don’t we get drunk and screw” – written as a parody of more subtlely-phrased but no less obvious come hither songs; “Who’s the Blonde Stranger;”

Drugs: “only jazz musicians were smoking marijuana, yeah” – from “Pencil thin mustache;” “Ellis Dee” – not so thinly veiled reference to the hallucinogen.

Drinking: “Margaritaville,” “Boat Drinks,” “Grapefruit Juicyfruit” etc., etc.

But there’s also an abiding sense of joie de vivre and living in the moment that is balanced with a healthy dose of introspection (see “A Pirate Looks at 40,” “One Particular Harbor”, “Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes,” “Come Monday”). And I think there’s ultimately a sense of searching for meaning in this life; something to which every Christian can relate. We just happen to have the answer to this: love God, love neighbor.  

Jimmy Buffett is a recovering Roman Catholic – this comes through loud and clear. And I think his woundedness at the hands of his church experience is still open. He’s quick to point out the hypocrisy. “There’s a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning” he sings in “Fruitcakes.”

And check out the lyrics to his song “The Christian” from 2005. Here’s a sample: “You were right there when the plate was passed last Sunday; That’s the second time you’ve been to church all year; Could you really call yourself a Christian; If charity cost half as much as beer.” Wow. I wish I had the guts to preach that from the pulpit!

Dust off the blender, enjoy the warm weather, and let me know if you score an extra ticket to the next Buffett show!


4 Comments on “Wasting Away?”

  1. Richard says:

    Informative post and well written.

  2. Father Tim says:

    Thanks, Richard. Any Buffett fans in the UK?

  3. oneparticularph says:

    Father Tim:

    You know what you’re talking about on Jimmy’s obscure stuff. I’m a PH author and wrote a book about Buffett (www.jimmydotcom.info) and toured with him for a year.

    Thanks for understanding…A True Man of the Cloth!


  4. Father Tim says:

    Blessings from one Parrothead to another. Of course I never toured with the guy so maybe it should be the other way around!

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