When I became a Parrothead

I am a HUGE Jimmy Buffett fan.  Half my iPod is taken up by his songs and in some cases, I have different versions of the same song.   I would love to someday visit every Margaritaville restaurant in the world, but so far I’ve only been to 3.  Vegas, Orlando and Key West  (the first).  I have shirts, hats, bumper stickers and pins.

One of the criteria I use to determine a big fan is which songs pop into your head when you first think of a performer or band are NOT the most popular.  In my case the ones that pop into my head are:

God’s Own Drunk  (and I’m a fearless Man)
Last Man Standing
Surfing in a Hurricane
Last Mango in Paris (Our lives change like the weather but a legend never dies)
Bama Breeze

So yep I am a Parrothead….

But it was not always so…

My journey as a Parrothead  started back in 1992, and it was by accident.  Part of our Strohs Bros & Fros team from WSU had joined our fellow Coug and buddy Rob Wilder in forming the Chaos softball team.  Our buddy Dave, his sister, brother and a bunch of friends were heading over the Gorge (A huge natural amphitheater above the Columbia River in Eastern Washington) to see Jimmy Buffett.

With a little encouragement from us, Dave was convinced to invite Kimmie, another teammate  (cute and blonde) to be his date.  The whole group was going to camp and water ski beforehand, then head for the concert.  She jumped at the chance and said yes.

Something happened though, to this day it’s a Strohs mystery.  As the concert approached, Dave kept calling her to make plans.  She never called him back. (I would just like to go on record as saying in this instance I had nothing to do with it!  I have, other times, said or done something wrong to mess up Dave, but NOT this time!)

So with the concert approaching, he was stuck with a ticket and asked me to go.  “Sure, why not”, I thought.  At the time I only knew one song, Wasting Away again in Margaritaville, but it sounded like fun anyway.

The evening of the concert, we took the motorhome to the Gorge.  This gave a place to hang out, listen to music and indulge in a few beverages.  We then devised our plan of attack.  You are not allowed to bring in booze to the Gorge.  As 20 somethings, this was UNACCEPTABLE!  So Dave, Anne, the motorhome owner and I worked together.

Anne strapped a pouch of tequila (much like a camelback) around her waist.  She very much looked like the early stages of pregnancy with it under her shirt.  She and the other guy would go in first, carrying nothing but a blanket, and after security, run like hell to secure a great spot on the lawn.  Dave and I would carry the cooler of food and mixer plus the other items, and go through the search at the gate. One of them would save the spot and the other find us.  We even had a map of the Gorge to work off of.

It worked like clock work!  We had a spot behind the owner’s box and were drinking Margaritas on the rocks (complete with salt I believe) waiting for the concert.  It was the perfect venue.  Warm, a view, a thunderstorm in the distance with lightning, and great friends.

Once the music started, I was hooked!  There is something about a Buffett song, especially live, than transports you.  You are taken away from any stress you have in life, and transported to a tropical island where the weather is always perfect (I love his song “The weather is here, Wish you were Beautiful”), and no one has to work.  You can tell he truly enjoys himself on stage.  The man has been performing since the early 70s, and who knows if he will ever stop.  I was singing along even though I didn’t know the words.

I bought my first CD there “Songs you Know by Heart” and damn near wore it out.  I’ve read all his books, and some days at work it’s all Buffett all day long.  I like to go to Margaritavilles on vacation and just hang out.  The music is good, food great and people are almost all fans.

Fast forward 20 years, and last year I see a news article that Buffett is coming to Seattle.  I was an emailing fool!  “Who’s going??”  Surprisingly, no one took me up on it!  Michelle, who is not a fan, but knew I wanted to go, volunteered to come with. (I have gone to a couple of  Dave Matthews Band concerts with her (her favorite performer).  OK 2 tickets it was!

On the day of the concert though, late October, after being cold and wet outside for a couple of weeks, she was under the weather.  She was a trooper though, and didn’t want me to be alone, so she was still willing to go.  “Alone? No One is ever alone at a Buffett concert!”  I was going with 35000 of my people!  So I let her go to bed and sleep off the crud and I was off!

Turned out, a friend and coworker Debbie was going as well.  We carpooled to Seattle, and she let me tag along to a private prefunction with her friends.  These guys travel the nation to see Jimmy.  A great group to have fun with!


So yep, here I am at the concert.  Notice the huge grin!


I was never alone.  The people around me were great.  We taked, laughed, had a beer or two, and just got ready for Jimmy.  When the concert started, I sang every song, this time I knew the words stayed for the encores, and left feeling incredibly good.   The only downside of a Buffett concert is that you he could sing for 12 hours, and still not hit every song of his!  Didn’t matter though, it was a blast! The Buffett afterglow lasted for days.

Trust me he is there somewhere!
Trust me he is there somewhere!

Yeah, I have no idea why Kimmie ditched Dave, but I am damn lucky she did!  If you aren’t a fan, give him a shot.  But do it the right way.  A warm summers night, favorite beer or beverage, better yet, at the ocean.  Just let the music flow into you, listen to the words, close your eyes, and let it take you away.

Very soon, you will know what the song “Changes in Attitudes Changes in Lattitudes” means.

FINS UP everyone!

2 thoughts on “When I became a Parrothead

  1. See, I learn things about you, too! I’m a huge parrot head and have seen him over 50 times in places like Key West, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Connecticut, Madison Square Gardens, Baltimore, Boston, Seattle, Portland and probably a few more places I’m forgetting. I even got backstage passes once, maybe I’ll blog about that one day. Welcome to the club!

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