Jimmy Buffett

by Claire Filaski

In the scope of southern music, Jimmy Buffett stands alone; his beachy, laid back vibe differs from the grit of most southern rock, but the tin-can, Caribbean element keeps him from being a traditional country singer. In this sense, Buffett is unique– his musical presence reflects a very specific region and way of life. This Caribbean influence is felt most heavily in his well-loved hit, “Margaritaville,” which describes the island lifestyle of Key West, Florida. This song encapsulates the beachy, leisurely lifestyle of both Key West and the South at large.

Every line of “Margaritaville” caters to the idea of the slow-paced, southern lifestyle. Buffett describes himself as “wastin’ away” in this beachy town, thus hinting that he spends his days how he pleases– usually with a minimal agenda. He can be found “…watchin’ the sun bake” or “strummin’ my six string,”– both hardly demanding activities that all exemplify how the “southern lifestyle” revolves around appreciating the environment and every individual moment. Buffett wants nothing more than to relax in this beautiful harbor town and simply take each day as it comes; this largely represents the overall southern appeal, where people tend to be more laid back, easygoing, and appreciative of simple pleasures.

This laid back lifestyle is very closely tied with the southern cuisine that Buffett describes. He mentions shrimp, sponge cake and above all, “booze in the blender.” His described food items both stand as key features of southern cuisine, and the reference back to alcohol again hints at the idea of a leisurely lifestyle. Buffett can spend his days under the influence and no one can tell him otherwise. Like other southerners, the tourists provide a passing annoyance, as can be seen in their description as “covered in oil.” He wants little to do with them or with the demands of life– he’s happy to keep sitting, drinking, and playing guitar.

While “Margaritaville” acts as the pinnacle of Buffett’s idealized, southern lifestyle, all of his songs reflect similar island vibes. “It’s Five O-Clock Somewhere,” “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” and “Mañana” all emphasize Buffett’s love for the South and the water.

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