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Bootleg Country: Jimmy Buffett – 09/04/99

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Several years back my wife (then girlfriend) was throwing a small party. I provided the music which consisted of several mix tapes. On one of these tapes was the Jimmy Buffet song “Barometer Soup,” which is kind of a calypso Caribbean rave up. My wife’s (then girlfriend’s) friend (then roommate), who is actually from Trinidad, developed a rather large sneer at listening to Jimmy Buffet trying to be Caribbean.

There was much discussion of how gawd awful the song was, and how unauthentic the steel drum sounded. I tried to give some sort of recompense for these ‘sins of the Caribbean’ — Jimmy Buffet has spent much of his life in South Florida and the Caribbean, he uses authentic Caribbean musicians in his band (that one I’m making up, but it sounds good even if I don’t know if it is true) — but in the end these reasons fell flat on my friend’s ears. The real reason I included the song on the mix tape — the only reason to include any song on a party mix tape is that it’s a lot of fun.

You could probably sum up Jimmy Buffet with those words. He’s not the world’s greatest songwriter, or a master musician, but he knows how to have fun, and his music shows it. He’s made a career out of island escapism.

It’s hard not to be jealous when listening to a guy who has made a career (and big bucks) off of sitting on beaches, munching cheeseburgers and sipping margaritas.

The Tweeter Center
Mansfield, MA

The thing about Jimmy Buffett is that he’s really got his shtick down to a fine T. He knows how he is supposed to act, he knows how to please his audience. The thing that annoys me about Jimmy Buffett is his audience is made up of a lot of drunken buffoons.

This is a theme concert of sorts. The Beach House on the Moon album had just come out and Jimmy has planned a concert around it. It’s a pretty broad concept mainly consisting of Jimmy telling the audience they are going to fly to the moon, a few silly sound effects of a rocket ship, a few sillier jokes about landing on the moon and returning homeward. All fitted around his songs.

In fact it gets rather tiring listening to Jimmy try to segue into the next song and tie it into a part of the “trip.” To segue into “Coconut Telegraph” he notes that the only communication device that they will be using on the flight is, you guessed it, a coconut telegraph. And it really never gets better than that. The whole moon flight is just, well, lame.

Throughout the show he throws in all his hits, a bunch of new songs, and even a cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” Crosby Stills and Nash’s “Southern Cross,” and the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band.” All are played with his typical island schtick, which basically means steel drums in the foreground.

Ed Bradley, of CBS fame, plays tambourine on a couple of songs. I’d say he played a mean tambourine, and he does as far as tambourine guest performers go, but we all know guest tambourine players only come on stage because they can’t play a real instrument.

Jimmy’s between-song banter is as moronic as it is straight out of a frat boy party, the “concept” is just as lame and the music is uninspired, but I must admit it is all rather fun. It’s the type of bootleg I’d throw on while sitting around the pool, or on the back porch sipping something fruity. And in the end, if music can’t be fun once in awhile, then what’s the point after all?

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