Sad news this morning. Mr. Margarita is dead. The Times said he died peacefully. They make it sound alright. I doubt that. Even if the party sucks and nobody wants to be there, nobody wants to leave. Especially when you have over one billion dollars--and that before you even sell your music catalog. Dylan went sailing with Buffet once and recorded two of his songs. He has said in an interview that his favorite song was Buffet's "A Pirate Looks at Forty," but he has said that about a lot of other songs, too. Dylan is a well known thief and liar and is not to be trusted. And of course, he was worth only half as much as Buffet, so there is that.
I saw Buffet in concert one sunny afternoon on the university lawn just after he made his first hit album. The only song we all knew by him was "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw," but some of us also knew "A White Sports Coat and a Pink Crustacean." Those were strange and ugly times full of kids smoking marijuana and dropping acid. If there was sex and drugs and sun, this crowd would have cheered anything.
I must admit, though, I liked Buffet before he went commercial and mainstream, when he still had the makings of a troubadour, before his music was overwhelmed by steel drums. Jesus Christ, I hated those things. Still do. It was o.k. when they first recorded songs with them in the fifties, but they should have died with the decade. Yet, when I moved back to my own hometown, I would lie on the back deck in the sun listening to early Buffet. And, of course, I had become a Key West regular, too, until it became too commercial because of Mr. Shrimp Skin Boots who had cashed in on Parrotheads and opened up a Margaritaville store on the very island.
Good God, I hate Parrotheads, men with mustaches and loud shirts and boat shorts and deck shoes, women with cigarettes and frozen drinks and halter tops that reveal their aged bellies, some fellow with an acoustic guitar and a microphone playing with a pre-recorded band on a sandy beach deck bar. . . .
Di I go to far?
Buffet was good friends with many writers, especially that Key West crowd which included Hunter Thompson, Jim Harrison, and Thomas McGuane. Buffet had a small part in the film "Rancho Deluxe" written by McGuane. McGuane later married Buffet's sister, and Buffet decided to become a writer. He is one of only six writers, including John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway, to top the N.Y. Times best seller list in both fiction and non-fiction. I confess to reading all of his books. In hardback. It is a sad confession, and I gave them all away to the local library to sell in their used bookstore.
As my friend Red says when she's done something dumb, "You've done worse!"
For all of that, though, it saddens me. He was 76. The Bell Tolls.