As you may have heard, Jimmy Buffett passed away on Friday. He was a legendary singer-songwriter, undoubtedly most famous for the song, “Margaritaville.”
I knew he was a very successful individual, financially speaking, but I didn’t know until this week that his net worth was estimated to be a billion dollars. That’s a lot of dollars.
He parlayed the song, “Margaritaville,” into an absolute empire of a lifestyle brand, which now includes tortilla chips, cookbooks, RV parks, blenders, pool floats, casinos, slip-on shoes, pickleball paddles, drink mixes, retirement communities, patio furniture, hotels, salsa, various frozen shrimp meals, at least one cruise ship, and of course, the Margaritaville restaurant chain that spans the globe. I mean, my goodness, the word “Margaritaville” doesn’t even flag your spell check!
In case there is some scenario involving a time machine or interstellar space travel you’ve endured that has prevented you from ever hearing the song, “Margaritaville,” it’s a heartwarming tale about a man who has been spending some quality time away from home, drinking delicious frozen cocktails, playing his guitar, eating delicious shrimp, every once in a while discovering that he has gotten a new tattoo after a few too many of the frozen drinks, and slowly coming to the realization that he is the one to blame for his failed relationship.
It's a great song with a catchy tune and it’s fun to sing along to with your friends. I never thought too much about it past that until I heard a stand-up comedian describe it as the most depressing song ever written.
Now, obviously, you might argue that there are far more depressing songs out there. Anything from an opera where everyone dies would be a natural trump card to the relatively tame, “Margaritaville.” Or anything by the Doors. There’s a lot of material to counter the claim. That is, until you put it into context with Jimmy’s empire.
In the song, we are led to believe that our boozy hero is somewhere tropical, or south of the border. The refrain that we all love to sing along with is, “Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville, searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt…”
On the surface, it seems to be an almost enviable situation. Leaving all your worries behind on some tropical beach somewhere. When Jimmy Buffett wrote the song, Margaritaville was just an idea. An unknown destination. A far-off paradise.
But that’s not where Margaritaville really is today. Thanks to his incredible marketing efforts over the years, the destination is no longer unknown, and the stand-up comedian might just have a point. “Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville” takes on an entirely different tone when the lyrical scenario is playing out in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
RIP, Mr. Buffett. Thanks for all the great songs.
And this sweet pickleball racket with the parrot on it.
Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen
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