I've always considered myself and Jimmy Buffett to be kindred spirits. Let's take a look at the facts: We both love the beach. We've both blown out a flip-flop, granted with varying degrees of notoriety. He writes songs. I wish I could write songs. He's the son of a son of a sailor. I've.... been on a boat before. I think we can all agree that any more examples would only serve to cloud my point.
And so, when I saw he was coming to Birmingham, subtle hints were strategically dropped into everyday conversation.
"Jimmy Buffett is coming to Birmingham!"
"Hint, hint, birthday, hint."
"That would probably make a really great gift for someone who has a birthday in February." (Ed.'s note: The "someone" in that sentence is really me.)
OK, so not so subtle. But it got the job done. Tickets were procured and a concert was attended.
I must say it was a little odd to be wearing a winter coat to a Jimmy Buffett concert. But temps were supposed to be in the thirties for once, and I'm just manly like that.
He, of course, came on stage in shorts and flip-flops. Then again, I'm fairly certain he didn't have to hike ten blocks to get to the arena. It's all about the free parking for me. It's more the principle than the cost, or so I tell myself.
This was my first Buffett concert and one of the curiosities I had was whether all the Parrotheads would also be potheads. Much like when I attended that Willie Nelson concert a couple of years ago, I wondered if I would experience a second-hand high. Or low. Or whatever you get. I don't know, I've never even smoked a cigarette.
Those concerns seemed to be unfounded. For I have walked amongst the Parrotheads, and maintained my inhibitions. Although after the show I did notice I scarfed down my food at Chili's like I hadn't eaten in two weeks.
Buffett, as comfortable on stage as he (or I) would be on the open sea, moved seamlessly through familiar favorites "Volcano," "Fins," "Come Monday," "Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes," and of course, "Margaritaville." There was newer fare, such as "Trip Around The Sun," "It's Five O'clock Somewhere," and "Knee Deep," which featured a guest appearance by a member of the Zac Brown Band.
He also sang several songs about Alabama, which is one of 3 or 4 home states claimed by the Head Parrot. There was the expected "Bama Breeze" and "Sweet Home Alabama" (replete with audience chants of "Roll Tide Roll"). But there were also a couple of songs I'd forgotten about: "Birmingham" and "Stars Fell On Alabama."
Then following an encore of three or four songs, the band left the stage again. But Jimmy stayed behind to do one last number, by himself, for the home-state crowd. Almost like he didn't want to leave.
After that, we went our separate ways -- he to his Hush-Puppy-wearing, island-hopping, sponge-cake-nibblin' ways; me to begin the ten-block hike back to reality.
The guy who wrote Wikipedia describes Jimmy Buffett's music as "often portraying an 'island escapism' lifestyle." Now there's an ideology I can embrace!
Yep, kindred spirits.
"I got a school boy heart, a novelist's eye, a stout sailor's legs and a license to fly. I got a bartender's ear and a beachcomber's style..."