Friday, August 18, 2006

Editorial: An Open Letter to Jimmy Buffett

Dear Jimmy Buffett,

I have been putting off this letter for a long time. Maybe it was stubbornness, maybe it was pride, and maybe it was denial. But in any case, this communiqué addresses a point that is very much in order.

Mr. Buffet, I owe you an apology.

I have spent thirty-five years striving to become an aesthete, a scholar, a pupil of all I considered to be worthy and good; I aspired to the high-brow approach to life. I realize now that this was all in vain. To think of the time I wasted scoffing at you and your philosophies which I so rashly dismissed as trivial, simplistic, and hedonistic. This waste saddens me more than the failed sham of a life I attempted to lead with out your guidance, your words of wisdom.

You may wonder what brings me to this metaphysical discovery of self and why I now come to you humbled and seeking forgiveness. Well, to borrow one of your own dazzling allusions, it all “boils” down to a single masterpiece of a song. Which song? A little ditty called “Margaritaville.”

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp
They're beginnin' to boil.

Wasted away again in Margaritaville,
Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt.
Some people claim that there's a woman to blame,
But I know it's nobody's fault.

At first glance, these lyrics may come across as a light-hearted look at the trite laments and petty celebrations of a “beach bum,” and indeed they are. But I now realize the song contains a higher truth that eluded me for years. Let us delve deeper, dear reader.

Don't know the reason,
Stayed here all season
With nothing to show but this brand new tattoo.
But it's a real beauty,
A Mexican cutie, how it got here
I haven't a clue.

Here is hard evidence that Jimmy is far ahead of the “hipster” curve—truly he was an Advanced musician. “Margaritaville” was released in 1977, back in the day when “alternative culture” consisted of little more than stoner-inspired t-shirts with pithy sayings like, “Free Moustache Rides.” Yes, Jimmy sang about getting inked up before most of today’s trendies were even born.

On a personal note, I myself can attest to the bewilderment one feels gazing at a tattoo of uncertain origin with newly sober eyes.

I blew out my flip flop,
Stepped on a pop top,
Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home.
But there's booze in the blender,
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.

Ah, the meat of the matter—the constant and unremitting trials of everyday life. And our responses thereto. Seriously, folks, alcoholism is a life-threatening illness. If you or a loved one has an unhealthy dependence on alcohol or any other substance, please contact the appropriate authorities.

Some people claim that there's a woman to blame,
But I know, it's my own damn fault.

Certainly this last is nothing less than a repudiation of Western Civilization’s millennia of misogynistic scapegoat-ism. So kudos to you, Jimmy, for your clarion call to personal responsibility. As any therapist or counselor will tell you, this is a giant step towards self-actualization.

Can there be any doubt now that Mr. Buffett touches upon those very issues that define us as human beings? Can anybody now say that they have never been to Margaritaville, have never even been tempted by that eponymous potion so like the potent waters of the Lethe? Perhaps. But not I, dear reader. Like the song's hapless narrator, I had to find my own "lost shaker of salt," as it were.

How would my life be different had I understood the grave wisdom of this song earlier? I have no way of knowing. But I can say one thing with certainty: I will never underestimate the weight of your words again, Jimmy.


Britt Bergman
Very Little Known Facts


harris said...


tasha said...

Margaritaville is the elusive paradise we all seek with ephemeral & seductive poisons, but the awakened consciousness seeks the beauty of inner vision & spirit. Bravo, Mr. Bergman, for your elegant & courageous testimony.