Examining Why We Go Absolutely Nuts for Certain Musicians

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For those of you living under a rock or just emerging from a coma, Jimmy Buffett will be playing tonight at Cricket Wireless Pavilion, much to the delight of seemingly tens of thousands of Valley Parrotheads. I must admit -- the number of my friends attending tonight's show is shockingly large. It seems half of people's status updates on Facebook and recent tweets on Twitter go something like "Buffett tonight!" Now, I know the King of Margaritas is in town tonight, so I understand that my friends aren't simply getting excited for some shitty Chinese buffet in Chandler. However, their excitement brings to light the sometimes baffling, overwhelmingly positive reception of Mr. Buffett. That reception opens up another interesting sociological debate about music itself: Why do we, as fans, go absolutely apeshit over certain musicians?

Jimmy Buffett has an impressive following of insanely devoted fans, known as Parrotheads. This shouldn't come as news to anyone since the man is well into his fourth decade of recording music. He has accomplished many things in his life, yet his "island escapism," "it's 5 o'clock somewhere" attitude is what resonates with his legion of fans. They love picking up what Buffett is laying down -- and while there's nothing wrong with that, it does tend to overwhelm and, ultimately, annoy other fans of music who don't find wearing floral print shirts and mandals to be their cup of tea (or tequila). 

Sure, Parrotheads love Buffett's music, but you, myself and my grandma all know that Buffett's music goes well beyond innocent little ditties about margaritas, cheeseburgers, and volcanoes. It's the lifestyle, the relaxed sense of ease that comes with Jimmy Buffett's musical ideals, and for some people that is exactly what they want and need. That "island escapism" is what drives my friends parents, devoted Parrotheads in their own right, to put on a Buffett concert DVD and dance along in their basement as if they were at the damn show itself.

Now, those other fans of music probably have that one favorite band of theirs that they love and would go bonkers over at the drop of a hat if they knew the band was coming to town. I know I sure as hell do. But the culture surrounding Buffett takes fandom to new heights. Hell, if Death From Above 1979, my absolute bonkers/batshit favorite band, had two restaurant chains and a cultural aesthetic attached to them and their music, then I would be a complete geek and jump head first right into all of that. They don't, however, and they broke up in 2006. 

However, what endeared me to that band was getting my mind absolutely blown by their music. It's like they invented my favorite genre of music while perfecting it at the same time. I had that overwhelming feeling while listening to their music of "I fucking love this and I need it in my life right now." I don't think I will ever come across a band quite as important to me as Death From Above 1979 was, and I don't think I really want to. I think it's safe to assume that is the feeling some Parrotheads had when they first came across Jimmy Buffett's music. We need not, as music fans, be ashamed of our passion. It is who we are, and we should celebrate what it is that makes us unique.

Getting back on track, Buffett is a fucking juggernaut of all things American. He's one of seven people, seven, to top both the New York Times' Best Seller lists in fiction and non-fiction, joining the likes of Hemingway, Steinbeck, Irving Wallace, and Dr. Seuss. All that from the same man whose motto is "It's 5 o'clock somewhere." Buffett is, of course, in town to play his music and not read some passages from his various books. His music is what got him to where he is today, most likely sitting on huge piles of cash and lost shakers of salt. It is what we will remember most fondly about him once he, heaven forbid, passes away (I honestly don't think he ever will die, but that's neither here nor there). While Jimmy Buffett ain't exactly reinventing the wheel when he sings about paradise, pirates and partying, you have to tip your cap (or fringed cowboy hat) to the man for making a career out of singing songs, drinking tequila and laying on the beach at St. Barts.

Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band (nice one, fellas) will play at Cricket Wireless Pavilion tonight at 8 and, sadly, not 5.

Tickets and info about Mr. Buffett and his current "Summerzcool" Tour can be found at his Web site, margaritaville.com

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