Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Parrothead Looks at 20

I happened to stumble across an interesting article on Facebook that my author friend Eric Douglas shared. It was from Billboard.com and listed their take on Jimmy Buffett's top 20 songs. Like Eric, I agree with most of their picks, but I have my own set of top 20 I'd like to share. You can find Billboard's article here, by the way, in case you want to read the full article. I'll list their picks below, though, just in case you want a quick reference. 

Jimmy Buffett
image from Google search

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that while I've been a Buffett fan for many years, I can't call myself a true Parrot Head because I've never attended a live concert of his. I'd love to attend one of his concerts, but ticket prices are generally pretty high for his shows, at least in my opinion. One day, though...

Also, since I'm talking about "disclosure," I'll reiterate that I've identified any photos posted on this blog that don't belong to me with "Image from Google search" below the photo. Should any of the few that I obtained this way cause concern for the copyright holder, I'll be happy to either remove the photo or credit the photo. If you are the photographer or copyright holder, please let me know in the comments section below and I'll be happy to make it right with you.

Some of my readers will (hopefully) remember I did something similar a few years ago when I wrote about some songs that always seem to end up on one of my mixed playlists. You can check it out here. Go ahead, give it a read. I'll wait for you.

Pretty eclectic list, huh? What can I say?

So, below is the list, from #1 to #20, that Billboard.com came up with. I've bolded the titles that I agree should be in the top 20, although you'll see that my order is a bit different than theirs. 

Son of a Son of a Sailor
He Went to Paris
Cheeseburger in Paradise
A Pirate Looks at Forty
One Particular Harbor
Come Monday
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
Why Don't We Get Drunk
Nobody from Nowhere
It's Midnight and I'm Not Famous Yet
Boat Drinks
Pencil Thin Moustache
Trip Around the Sun
The Great Filling Station Holdup
Oldest Surfer on the Beach
Livingston Saturday Night
Gypsies in the Palace

Before you start shaking your finger at whatever display you are reading this from and exclaiming something like "Hey Patrick, you're an idiot! How could you possibly leave out [insert song title here] from your list?" 

First off, relax! I like all of the songs on that list, but there are few other titles I'd rather have in a 20-song playlist than those if I had to limit it to just 20. And if you noticed, the top 6 on their list are on my list. Coincidence? I think not.

To make this even more interesting, I'll include a few comments on most of these songs on why I have them in my top 20 and will make each song title a hyperlink to a YouTube video of the song. Just click the title, and you'll go right to it.

I'll present my list the same way Billboard.com did, and the way Casey Kasem used to do his Top 40 show, in reverse order. Are y'all ready? Let's go!

I would love to meet the person that Jimmy wrote this song about. I did a little searching on Google and found this blog which provides an entertaining analysis of the song.  I can't vouch for the accuracy, but it makes sense to me. 

Thanks to YouTube, I stumbled across this charming song while browsing for Buffett videos one Sunday morning while enjoying my coffee. The melody evokes memories of lighthearted times, and it's hard not to just sit back, close my eyes and enjoy it. I do remember having so much fun as a child running through big rain puddles in our backyard. Ironically, when I set the order of my top 20, this just happened to fall into the 19th spot. Nothing earth-shattering there, until I started doing some fact checking. According to Wikipedia, this song first appeared on the album Barometer Soup, which was Jimmy's 19th album. Whoa! Again, not too significant unless you just happen to be a Stephen King fan. Yes, I just made a reference inside a reference. Imagine that...

Neighborhood kids in the rain
photo courtesy of LP

18. A Pirate Looks at Forty
I'm constantly amazed at just how visual music can be for me. I've mentioned this in a previous blog about the vivid imagery evoked by music. Can you see the smoke from the cannons and hear them thundering at their prey? I sure can. And who hasn't ever wondered if they were born in the wrong era?

17. Come to the Moon
On the surface, one would think this is a lovely science fiction themed ballad, but carefully listening to the lyrics reveals, at least to me, someone really missing their mate. I wonder if he should start channeling Captain Kirk...

Full moon over Miami

16. Who's the Blonde Stranger?
A song close to home, geographically speaking. This is one of those "fun" songs that explore the relationship of a longtime married couple. The song link, by the way, is to the official music video.

15. Nautical Wheelers
Not too many of Jimmy's songs (that I'm aware of ) are written in 3/4 time. Before you ask, I'm pretty darned sure it's 3/4 time and not 6/8 time, just based on the lyrics. The biggest irony of Nautical Wheelers appearing in my Top 20 is that I'm not into dancing.....at all. It's just not my thing.....at all. My wife totally loves dancing so I will dance with her, on occasion, when she asks. That being said, I bet I'm one of the very few who can claim to have been slam-dancing, in a car, to Mozart. Yep, that's another story for another time. Triple-bonus points if anyone I've told that story to can remember which specific Mozart song I'm referring to.

14. God's Own Drunk
No, really, it's just coincidence that this song appears directly adjacent to the previous title. Seriously, I swear I was totally sober during the slam-dancing incident above. I don't drink and drive.....ever. Have I ever been "bullet-proof" like this song's narrator? Of course. That's why I don't shoot tequila. I tried explaining this to a friend of mine, but....it hung him up.

13. The Great Filling Station Holdup
How many times have we all heard "crime doesn't pay?" This amusing song demonstrates that sentiment quite effectively. The two guys in this song apparently aren't the brightest stars in the galaxy when it comes to theft, but at least they paid their debt to society. And speaking of theft, let's look at the next title in my Top 20.

12. Peanut Butter Conspiracy
How appropriate that my next pick should be this title. Not only are they thematically related, but both appear on the same album. Was he just going through a larceny phase, or what? My biggest question about this song is the choice of items they stole: Peanut butter and sardines? Really? Seriously? Was the peanut butter at least the crunchy variety?

Peanut butter and sardines? No, thanks...
image from Google search

11. Knees of My Heart
For being ultimately a non-event, this song holds a special place in my own heart. When I first decided to propose to my then girlfriend, I picked this song to play in the background. A family friend had a sailboat, and they agreed, happily, to take Cindy and me sailing for the day. I was going to sneak the CD on the boat with us, and at the appropriate time, one of them would play that song for me as I got on my own knee and proposed. Mother Nature had her own plans, though, and the forecast kept delaying our plans to sail. Time was running out, so I had to make alternate plans for the big day which turned out just as well. Come to think of it, I do believe we were in hurricane season at the time. 

Which leads us to the Top 10...

10. Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season
Having lived most of my life on the Texas Gulf coast, I totally relate to this song. From June through November each year, we live in hurricane season, paying close attention to the weather. Want to know what it's like to experience a hurricane? Check out a blog I wrote about Hurricane Celia here. Jimmy paints a vivid picture of an approaching storm, and I've seen squalls in the Gulf approaching Galveston from my work area that would probably fit what he's singing about. 

Not my favorite season
image from NHC website

9. Son of a Son of a Sailor
I'm glad Jimmy seems to appreciate his family as much as I do mine. My paternal grandfather was a railroad man and reminds me of a very gruff version of Wilford Brimley. He died when I was quite young, so I don't remember that much about him (my grandfather, not Wilford). This particular version of "Son" is my favorite and features one of his backup singers, Nadirah Shakoor, prominently. My maternal grandfather, incidentally, did spend time in the Navy, way back when. 

8. The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful
A hard-working guy just needs to relax? Yep, I can relate, although I'm happy that my wife is closer to me than this guy's wife apparently is. You have to admire his style, though. "Well, he's on his third drink before the wheels of the plane leave the ground." I know some cruisers like that. They are pleasantly lubricated before the safety briefing. Party on Garth! Party on, Wayne!

7. Last Mango in Paris
Here we have the second song on my list that has "Paris" in the title. My connection to this song, though, has nothing to do with Paris. Back in the mid-80s, I attended college at Texas A&I in Kingsville. Yes, it goes by a different name now, but I refuse to acknowledge it. I met one of my closest friends there, that is more like family than friend. Around noon one day "J" (he knows who he is) and I decided to treat ourselves to the local Pizza Inn buffet. We were finished with classes for the day so we figured "why not" and hopped in his car. Naturally, college kids and pizza and beer go together, so we filled our plates and ordered a pitcher to share. We philosophized about life, the universe and everything as we ate our lunch and enjoyed our brews. Several helpings, and a couple of pitchers later, we were nicely full and continued to just hang out and talk. 

"We shot the breeze for hours, as the sun fell from the skies..."

And truly it did. Before we realized it, lunchtime had given way to dinner time and it was dark. Being the responsible guys we were, we ate dinner and drank soft drinks so we could drive home safely. We left the dorm just before noon that day and returned close to 8. This is one of my most cherished memories of college, hanging out with a good friend and enjoying each other's company.

J & I in later years

6. Jolly Mon Sing
The cynical part of me tends to agree with the statement "No good deed goes unpunished." Listen to this song and you'll see why I think that still holds true in some cases. Ultimately, Jolly Mon gets his reward and still helps the local islanders. Was justice ever served to the pirates? I hope so!

We've reached number five in our countdown, and I hope you've enjoyed the ride so far. Let's see what made the cut.

5. Havana Daydreamin'
I picked this particular video because it features the subject quite successfully. What struck me, though, when I watched this specific video, was how similar Ernest Hemingway looks to a former boss of mine: CJ Peters. No, CJ has nothing to do with this song, only his similarity to Mr. Hemingway in the video. I'd love to visit Havana one day and experience the warmth and hospitality the Cuban people are known for.

CJ Peters
image from Google search

4. Boat Drinks
Who can resist a cold, creamy, fruity "boat drink?" Coupled with my love of cruising, it's a match made in heaven. Wanna make it even better? How about a boat drink in "St. Somewhere?" Works for me!

I'm enjoying this boat drink!

3. Fins
Many of JB's songs are just plain fun, and Fins is one of them. This is an automatic crank-it-up-and-sing-along-at-the-top-of-my-voice song. 

Fins up!

The photo above was taken at the Margaritaville in Grand Cayman. More on that in just a bit.

Fins to the left, fins to the right!

Yeah, I know, wrong kind of fins. We thought it would be fun to pose like this, so we did it. That's how we roll. This was taken at Mammoth Lake in Clute, Texas, by the way.

Oh, my! How can something as simple as a cheeseburger bring such pleasure? I'll take a good cheeseburger over a mediocre steak any day. Jimmy and I may differ slightly on what we prefer on our burgers, but based on the song we both enjoy them. 


And now, appearing in the number one slot, we have:

Is this a real place or a state of mind? The short answer is yes....to both. When the song was first released, there was no physical place called "Margaritaville." Today, you can find Margaritaville restaurants all over the place. 

Original Margaritaville in Key West, FL

Margaritaville in Grand Cayman

Don't forget Cozumel

Margaritaville is another song that definitely lends itself to a singalong. Just listen in any public place where this is playing and you'll hear many people, myself included, add "Salt, salt, salt!" to the end of the "lookin' for my lost shaker of salt" verse. There are even variations of this, too: "Salt, salt, where's the damned salt?"

I've noticed in the videos of live performances, Jimmy will add "bubble, bubble, bubble" to the end of the "smell those shrimp, they're beginning to boil" verse. Check out this video of a live performance and you'll be able to see examples of both.

I want to give honorable mention to It's Five O'Clock Somewhere. Since Jimmy only appears in this Alan Jackson song, I can't rightly place it on a Jimmy Buffett list. It just wouldn't seem fair to Alan, now, would it? It fits nicely with the rest of my list, and occupies a permanent spot on my "Parrot Head Playlist."

So there we have it, my faithful readers. My own Top 20 Jimmy Buffett songs. What does your Top 20 list look like? I'd love to see it. Do you particularly agree or disagree with any of these selections?

Coming up in future blogs, I'll have another interview with a local chef, as well as start a new series on what I'll call "living history." These will feature a photo tour and some background on military displays such as the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi, the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, VA, and our own Seawolf Park in Galveston. 

Do you want to see something specific? Let me know in the comments section below and I'll see what I can come up with.

My previous blog can be found here.

Until next time.....

carpe cerevisi


  1. Okay, Patrick, I have to say Come Monday is by far my favorite JB song, followed closely by Cheeseburger in Paradise and Fins, mostly for the "sing-along" and "fin dancing" that go along with them at a live show. That said, I quit going to Buffett shows when he "outgrew" Red Rocks (we lived in Boulder) and moved down to Fiddler's Green in Denver, which we nicknamed "Hitler's Green" after attending one show there and dealing with their security, noise level ordinances and "no alcohol past a certain time" policies. I'm no a Parrot Head either, mostly because I haven't been to a JB concert since the 90s, mostly because if you've been to one, you've been to them all. But you do have to go to a live show at least once. It's a requirement.

    1. Oh, I'd *love* to go to one of his shows. I'm sure they are a blast. And "no alcohol after a certain time?" At a Buffett concert? WTH?

  2. I'm definitely not trying a PB and Sardine sandwich any time soon. Ehhgahd. But I am a fan of Buffett in many respects. I agree with Connie, a live show is a must. It is on my bucket list haha

    1. We'll have to compare our top 20 lists during our next game night.