A COUPLE OF FRIENDS OF MINE used to take Jimmy Buffett intravenously, back when he was a cult figure, him and his imaginary Coral Reefer Band, back before his 1977 smash "Margaritaville" salted the airwaves 40 times a day on every pre-programmed all-the-kids-are-doing-it AM radio station in the country. They still made his concerts last year, but mainly for the sake of the old songs, like "They Don't Dance Like Carmen No More," and for a commode-huggin' good time. They thought "Margaritaville" was a lemon.
But all roads lead to rum and last month they went down to Winter Haven, Florida, chasing the Red Sox Spring Training Tan. They didn't really arrive until the day they wandered out on this teak-wood deck with an ocean view and thatched umbrellas over the ashtray tables where you set the kind of Caribbean concoctions that come in gutted coconuts and topless pineapples; that was when, with the help of a little juice, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville music came marimba-ing out of the loudspeakers. This is Florida, man! You may not be no pith helmet, mama honey, but I sho do lak the way you squeeze my tanning butter. Make that a double rum punch, bubbles. Me and my Foster Grants.
Sunshine and cold liquor and oceans are the bartenders for Buffett's music, and Son of a Son of a Sailor has the same easy-sippin' mix as the Margaritaville music on his last album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. The title cut, for instance: "The sea's in my veins, my tradition remains, I'm just glad I don't live in a trailer." Or the song "Manana":
She said I can't go back to America soon
It's so goddamn cold it's gonna snow until June
Yeah, they're freezin' up in Buffalo stuck in their cars
And I'm lying here 'neath the sun and the stars.
Or "Fool Button," a potted rocker that's the best song on the album:
Looking for my rentacar
Was the Cordoba blue or red
Tryin' to remember where I put the keys
Tryin' to remember what I said...
It was a fool palace
Double-knit on parade
They pushed the fool button