I've been a Parrothead for a long time. I was a young teen when Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville hit the top of the charts and I'd sing it all the time, mostly because it annoyed my sister. But it wasn't until I went to my first Buffett concert many years later that I became a Parrothead.
When you tell people you love Jimmy Buffett, you'll get a range of reactions -- some consider Buffett fans to be slackers with too much time on their hands to create elaborate tailgate set-ups, wacky costumes, and silly hats with palm trees and Juicy Fruit boxes.
Maybe they think anyone who wears a coconut bra has a few screws loose. Or maybe we're just a bunch of middle-agers stuck in one of Piaget's life cycles of instant gratification/perpetual immaturity. But those who might think this misunderstand the whole appeal behind Jimmy Buffett - Pure. Unadulterated. Fun. The stereotypes may represent a small percentage of fans, but most Parrotheads who love Jimmy Buffett and religiously attend his concerts get the real message behind what he represents. Yes, he's a marketing genius with a finely honed 'island escapist' brand. He even says at his concerts "I am spending your money foolishly", to which the crowd goes wild and cheers him on!
We know it. We love it. Good for him.
Jimmy Buffett and his music are an inspiration for how to live your life, a reminder of what's really important. He lives the life of his songlines. And from what I've seen over the years, most Parrotheads who subscribe to his philosophy don't want to drop out of society, quit their jobs and sail to exotic ports unknown (OK, maybe this part is true). It's more that we believe this isn't necessarily a bad goal to have. Maybe we don't need all the crap that bogs us down, the endless workaday grind at respectable but unfulfilling jobs with two weeks off each year.
What's wrong with aspiring to live in your idea of paradise, and not where others think you belong? Who cares if your respectable job carries a lesser title or none at all? What's wrong with wanting to work less and play more? People who love Jimmy Buffett subscribe to a different view of what they think their life should be. And the older we get, the more we realize just how important these values really are.
Those of us at or approaching "middle age" are actually way beyond it, I think. Technically, with an average life expectancy of 76 or so (for men, maybe a little older for women), we probably hit middle age around 40. But at 40, we're smack dab in the midst of raising families, building our careers, chasing the money, or all of the above, which distracts us from thinking we've hit this milestone. Middle-aged Parrotheads have grown older (but not up) right along with Jimmy, following him on the road since the 60s. They are aging hippies and dropouts. They are also teachers (and Principals), doctors, lawyers, investment bankers, housewives, and soccer Moms, and their children and grandchildren (Parakeets) are the new generation of Parrotheads.
Jimmy Buffett is more than just a man. He's a brand that represents the life we're all seeking - to escape the mundane and create a more adventurous life for ourselves, with the financial freedom to be independent. For some of us, that just means a simpler life.
If you're still not convinced I have a point here, you should try this: get yourself a pair of tickets to the next Buffett concert in your area and GO! Under cover or lawn seats, it makes no difference. And get there early for the tailgate. If it's your first time to a Buffett concert, make yourself a "Buffett Virgin" sign and put it on, or someone else will - it's a rule. Then everyone will be your new best friend!
Read up ahead of time if you must - there is a 'Best Practices' when it comes to getting the most from your concert experience. Gather your friends, put on grass skirts and coconut bras, and bring your grill and jello shots. Spend the afternoon getting to know the folks next to you in the parking lot. And enjoy the feeling of being silly again, at laughing at yourself, and enjoy the pure unadulterated fun of it all.
Make sure you buy his cd "Songs You Know By Heart" and get to know them by heart. Learn Fins. It's one of the songs he says he "has to do at every concert, or be killed!" There is nothing better than looking behind you (or in front, depending on the seats you have) and seeing 50,000 Parrotheads doing Fins in sync all around you. Be sure to take in the look of pure joy on their faces.
Then I dare you to spot the slackers in the crowd from the well-adjusted, respectable professionals. Because we all look about the same in a grass skirt!