I hate Jimmy Buffet. “Margaritaville” is one of those songs that gets stuck in my head for days on end, driving me nearly to madness. The very strains of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” make me want to go vegan. I do NOT wish I had a pencil-thin mustache, thank you.
So you may wonder then how I ended up seeing Changes in Latitude, the premier Jimmy Buffet tribute band, last night. The answer is this: My friend Thor.
Thor is my Friday Night Thing. He laughs easily and is always up for anything no matter how goofy, plus he shares my not-so-secret-but-deeply-shameful love of Moe’s. So when I saw that our little civic center was indeed getting a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, I knew we had to go. There is little I love more than an ironic concert, hipster that I am.
So we got our leis at the door and I kidnapped an inflatable parrot from a woman at my church (First Presbyterian has a LOT of Parrotheads!) and we staked out our seats next to a nice couple. The band opened with “Brown Eyed Girl,” which is not a Jimmy Buffet tune (my fellow Lady Strike Team member Juanita, a Parrothead herself, informed me that JB covers this song; she insists that it’s good but I know that’s a trap) and my first thought was, “Seriously? I hate this song almost as much as I hate ‘Margaritaville’.”
Not only is “Brown Eyed Girl” nostalgic baby-boomer nonsense, it also reminds me of a guy I used to know who was in love with Natalie Portman, and made a tribute video of her to this song. It was not cute or sweet, but rather, stalkerish and creepy.
“I hate this song,” said Thor.
“Well then,” I said. “We should probably dance to it.”
And we did. We grabbed our stolen parrot and hurried down front and boogied. Not Jimmy Buffet kicked beach balls into the audience, but none to us. I returned the parrot to it’s rightful owner, because I was getting tired of carrying him around. But most importantly, now I don’t hate “Brown Eyed Girl” so much, because instead of thinking of Creepy Guy, I’ll instead remember dancing like an idiot to a Jimmy Buffet tribute band whenever I hear it at the grocery store, which, now that it’s summer, will probably be all the time.
Thor possesses a certain type of magic to turn even songs I genuinely hate into ones I almost don’t mind. On our way to our friend Danielle’s wedding, Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” came on the radio, which reminded me of my boyfriend awkwardly serenading me with it during a make-out session. At the wedding, he pulled me onto the dance floor to prom-sway to “Unchained Melody.”
I am one of those people who clings so tightly to memories associated with music, even bad ones, so that I might access these feelings at a moment’s notice. I tell myself it’s important for my writing, which is probably helps, but it’s also a hindrance on being in the moment. I don’t want to spend my life covering my ears and complaining when “Tiny Dancer” comes on…and now I don’t have to.
The concert was more fun than it had any right to be. We were out, we were laughing, we were having a good time doing something neither of us ever expected we would do. That’s not the kind of night you have holed up in your apartment, avoiding music you hate for reasons nearly 15 years in your past. What’s the point? What do you accomplish by that? I know too many people who live these sheltered little lives in constant fear of even the slightest discomfort, but as a result, they live existences utterly lacking in joy. They never do anything silly. They never step out of their zone. Lives are lived by Yelp reviews and critical acclaim. To me, that’s no way to live out what few days we have on this marvelous planet of ours.
This morning I woke up with a face sore from laughing and “Margaritaville” stuck in my head. It’s still stuck in my head, despite the fact that I listened to Donald Fagen’s “Tomorrow’s Girls” about six times today. But I wouldn’t have traded last night for the world. It was wild and weird and out of character, but that’s what made it so damn fun.