“If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane”
For me, this is a very important survival tool. It seems that some people don't handle stress that well and really internalize it, which can cause a lot of problems. I think if people can find the humor when things get hectic, it will help make it through the craziness.
”Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Make me want to go back again”
This has always been something I do...relive my trips and fun times in my head, giving me a craving for the next adventure. And it rings even more true now. Last March, I took spent 24 of the best days of my life in Australia and I have been anxious to return since I got home.
“Oh, yesterday's over my shoulder
So I can't look back for too long
There's too much to see waiting in front me
And I know that I just can't go wrong”
To me this just reinforces how important the future is and we shouldn't spend too much time dwelling on the past, especially the negatives. And as good as the good times are there is always plenty of room for new good memories to be made.
JB - “Rhyming unusual words is always something I have always tried to do. Anyone can rhyme cat and rat. I look for things beyond two syllables-like attitudes and latitudes.”
Wonder Why We Ever Go home
(Jimmy Buffett 1977)
Much like the title song, this one makes me think of the the mundaneness of every day life and how easy it is to let precious time slip by.
“The years grow shorter not longer
The more you've been on your own”
How true this is and how easy is it to let time pass by without really enjoying it. This is another thing that rang true with my trip to Australia. I was gone 24-25 days. Some might think the time flew by, but as I was living it, it played out very slowly and I really could soak in every moment and truly appreciate each hour of my existence. I've been back 4 months, and those four months have flown by like nothing. There have been some good moments for sure, but where did all those hours go?! Its crazy that it takes a vacation to be able to appreciate the time so much, which just goes to point out the importance of getting away from the day to day tasks.
“People are movin' so quickly
Humor's in need of repair”
We need to keep our humor, that's really the most important thing. You have to enjoy life...it's too precious to waste being in a bad mood.
This song has some very pretty harmonica playing by Mr. Taylor.
(Steve Goodman, Steve Burgh, Jim Rothermel 1977)
I enjoy both Goodman's and Buffett's versions of this song, but Jimmy definitely took this song and made it his own (with all due respect to the late, great Steve Goodman). This song talks about people escaping America for a variety of reasons, mostly running from something negative.
“Some of them are running from lovers, leaving no forward address
Some of them are running tons of ganga
Some are running from the I.R.S.”
But I think they are really running from themselves. And we all know that's not something you can escape by simply changing your latitude.
“Down to the Banana republics, things aren't as warm as they seem
None of the natives are buying any second-hand American dreams”
I think this song shows that if you simply change your location, that doesn't change who you are and that you take your characteristics with you where ever you go.
(Jimmy Buffett 1977)
This is the weakest song on an otherwise near perfect album. It's not really bad as much as it seems out of place. It's much more of a rocking song than the rest and just isn't a good fit in my opinion. That being said, it does feature some excellent harmonica by Fingers...so it can't be all bad. One line that stands out to me is:
“South of the border
Where the law and order
Is kept by Federales who just grin
And tell you they just want to be your friend”
I think if you've spent any significant amount of time in Mexico, you'll probably agree with me that one of the scariest thing is the law enforcement. I found it a little frightening to see 16 year-olds with machine guns in downtown Tijuana...and they were the police!
JB - “The name Tampico has always held a sense of danger for me. I guess it comes from watching the opening scene in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre when Bogart and Tim Holt won the lottery. Instead of cowboys, I put a couple of rock'n rollers in the coastal town and let my imagination go.”
(Jonathan Baham 1977)
This is a very touching song. I think it often when something good is coming to an end or when a friend is moving away.
“Drink it up, this one's for you
It's been a lovely cruise
I'm sorry it's ending, oh it's sad but true
Honey, it's been a lovely cruise”
The last time was when I was leaving Australia. When something has been so good and you don't want it to end.
JB - “This song was brought to me by a young man named Jonathan Baham. It was one of those songs that just fit the mood, and I put it on the record. I like the story and the image. It has stood the test of time.”
(Jimmy Buffett 1977)
This is "The" Jimmy Buffett song. Not that it's the best or my favorite, but it is his signature song. And though some people think it's played out, I still enjoy it everytime I hear it. It is it's own form of escapism...into Margaritaville. Then it doesn't matter where you are physically. I've always liked the progession of the last line of the chorus as the song goes on...it shows a bit of the true cause of someone's need to visit Maragritaville.
First Chorus: “But I know it's nobody's fault”
Second Chorus: “Hell, it could be my fault”
Final Chorus: “And I know, it's my own damn fault”
This shows a bit of self-realization going on.
And I do really enjoy the lost verse which is sometimes played live:
“Old men in tank tops
Cruisin' the gift shops
Checkin' out Chiquitas down by the shore
They dream about weight loss
Wish they could be their own boss
Those three-day vacations become such a bore”
Just a fun additon to the Parrothead Anthem
JB - “This song was written about a drink in Austin, Texas and the first huge surge of tourists who descended on Key West almost two decades ago. What can I say? People get asked if I ever get tired of playing it. The answer is no. It has paid the rent for a long time and seems to put a few minutes of joy into this troubled world when sung by fans at a show. I feel very lucky.”
In the Shelter
(Jimmy Buffett 1971)
Though not a happy song, it's always been a personal favorite and really touches my heart. This song was first released in 1971 on High Cumberland Jubilee. There is one very subtle and very significant lyric change between the two versions.
1971 High Cumberland Jubilee
“Sits on the big gray rocks, takes off her boots and socks
And knowing what she will do next just starts to cry”
1977 Changes in Latitudes, Changes in attitudes
“She sits on a big gray rock, takes off her boots and socks
Not knowin' what she will do next just starts to cry”
Both are very sad, but I think the original is much more powerful. I've talked to fans about this verse and what she intends to do. I've heard a few options all which could be valid, but it's always been suicide in my mind. It could also be any combinations of negative things continuing down the wrong path.
“I heard her crying out, "What is it all about?
I just don't know, but I can't go back home"
Hell, I just don't know, but I can't go back home”
Unfortunately this song hits close to home for me. In the 11th grade, I had a friend who's family was moving away. She couldn't cope with the idea of leaving and being away from her friends. She ran away for awhile, before finally moving away with her family. One morning as I was reading the paper and her name caught my eye...in the obituary. She had killed herself. This song reminds me of Jeanne and maybe I do prefer the newer version of the song. If she doesn't know what she'll do next, there's always hope!
Miss You So Badly
(Jimmy Buffett, Greg "Fingers" Taylor 1977)
For me, this song is about regret and how we don't realize how good things are until they're not around any more.
“After months of goin' crazy, there was nothin' left to say
But when the dust had finally settled
And the air had quickly cleared
Whoa, things were better off than I had feared”
It's important to appreciate what you have and not take it for granted. Otherwise you might just lose it.
I've always liked the mental image that the verse below conjurs up:
“We're stayin' in a Holiday Inn full of surgeons
I guess they meet there once a year
They exchange physician's stories
And get drunk on Tuborg beer
Then they're off to catch a stripper
With their eyes glued to her "G"
But I don't think that I would ever let 'em cut on me”
(Jesse Winchester 19??)
This is a pretty little song, both musically and lyrically. It just doesn't touch me as much as most of the songs on this album. I have no complaints, just nothing special to me. Jesse drew us a nice picture and Jimmy and Fingers bring it to life.
JB - “Biloxi is the town where I got my start playing music in a place called Trader Jon's. It blew away in hurricane Camille, but the memories of those days along the Mississippi Gulf Coast are still as vivid as the sunsets off toward New Orleans. Jesse Winchester got it right. All I did was sing about something I could relate to.”
(Jimmy Buffett 1977)
The album finishes on a fairly strong note with yet another song about escaping. It's fairly upbeat and Jimmy and the Reefers rock the album to an end.
“I lived half my life in an eight by five room
Just crusin' to the sound of the big diesel boom
It's not close quarters that would make me snap
It's just dealing with the daily unadulterated crap”
This always makes me think of the years I've spent in a cubicle in the Registrar's office at UCSB. I can definitely relate with the need to escape it from time to time.
“Sail away, that's the way I survive
Sail away, that's just no shuck and jive
It just makes my whole life come alive”
We all need to escape from time to time. Whether it's a trip to an exotic land or a Buffett concert with friends. Laughter and fun is necessary to get us through and maintain our sanity.
(review written August 12, 2002)