But what I do mind, what I always mind -- no! -- what I detest, is any other Jimmy Buffet song.
What sparked this entry was one too many plays of "Fins," and a play of "Margaritaville" followed by a loaded statement from the disc jockey: "Yeeeeah, and he's still makin' money off that lost shaker of salt."
I have a feeling the DJ feels the same as me about the rest of Jimmy Buffet's "catalogue." I love it when DJs are honest. The best was when a very cool lady DJ on the same station said of John Mellencamp's "Little Pink Houses," "I usually can't stand Mellencamp...but that song's alright." You can probably guess how I feel about him. More on that another time.
In case you are not familiar with "Fins," it's a song about an good looking girl who moved to South Florida and can't keep the men away. They are referred to as "sharks" and she as "bait." Here are the lines of the chorus:
Can't you feel 'em circlin', honeyGuess what. It took four people to write this song. And one was a woman.
Can't you feel 'em schoolin' around
You got fins to the left, fins to the right
And you're the only bait in town
This song is too stupid for me to rail about the sexism in it. It's the kind of innate sexism that a good red-blooded American man seems to expound as soon as he leaves the womb. (The womb-owner being the only woman who might be exempt from his attitudes about women.) I don't think Jimmy can help it. You can also find this (almost) forgivable sexism in our buddy Mellencamp, who needs a lover "that" (not "who") won't drive him crazy. And so on.
So the issue I take with this song and with Jimmy's other musical gems is just that it's bad. And that the only reason he can get away with it is because he was, long ago, inspired by a lost shaker of salt. "Margaritaville" has been his ticket to margarita money. He rides his own coat-tails (or poncho tails, or whatever fits the imagery).
Middle-aged, pre-sloshed men and women throng to Jimmy Buffet performances to relive Jimmy's life in Maragritaville. The whole show is in the style of "Margaritaville." Granted, many of his songs have a tropical or sub-tropical theme, so the straw hats and Hawaiian shirts work for almost all of them. The funniest thing about these shows is they are almost never outdoors.
In a darkened arena, thousands of pot-bellied businessmen bedecked in flowers grunt and hoist their overweight, over-aged, bleach-blond cuties onto their sloped shoulders, laughing as their ladies' beer spills down through the hat fringes to the floor, cooling sweaty flip-flopped feet.
After the show, they can go back to their hotel at the Margaritaville Vacation Destination, turn on Margaritaville radio, and order some room service from the Margaritaville Cafe. I'm not even kidding.
These Buffet aficionados call themselves "Parrot-heads." I call them tone-deaf and tasteless.
Sure, the Beach Boys share Buffet's weakness of having recorded too many overly-themed songs, and occasionally they tour around for old people to gawk at them. But the Beach Boys are a far from a one-trick pony. I don't know why Buffet is on the classic rock stations. I don't know why he can sell out tours every single year. I don't friggin' get it.
Before I close I must confess that there is one other Jimmy Buffet song that has grown on me. I think it's just because I'm a vegetarian and I miss eating meat and pickles together...
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
Cheeseburger in paradise!
Somehow, I don't think this ditty would have rocketed Jimmy Buffet to success the way "Margaritaville" did.
The salt shaker, had it been found before Jimmy had a chance to wax poetic about it, could have saved us from three decades of really bad music.
UPDATE: Episode 11 of Yacht Rock offers support for the "Buffet = Crappy Music" Hypothesis. See Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins lay waste to the throngs of Parrotheads!