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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
The Observer

The eternal sunshine of Margaritaville

Two days before I left home for my drive back to Notre Dame this fall, my sister and I visited New York City for the day.

The city was crowded with people speaking different languages while they rushed past beautiful, towering buildings, men selling roasted chestnuts and people dressed as Disney characters smoking cigarettes with Mickey and Minnie heads resting on their hips.

I was one of those people, rushing past the many sights of the city, eager to arrive at my destination. That is until I saw it. In the chaos of Times Square, there was a gorgeous, shining haven that promised to have not just good music, but more importantly good company: Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Restaurant.

My sister and I debated our restaurant choice. Should we spend our one night in NYC at a restaurant we could only visit in New York or a chain restaurant that offered fake beaches, undeniably wonderful music and all of the sunshine of Key West in NYC? 

Well in moments like that, I, like Alan Jackson, often wonder, “What Would Jimmy Buffet Do?”

Jimmy Buffet would go to Margaritaville. My sister and I followed suit. 

It was the right choice. As an avid Margaritaville and Jimmy Buffet fan, I may be biased, but making a shark fin with my hands on my head and singing to Jimmy Buffet’s “Fins” in a Manhattan skyscraper is an experience I am grateful for. 

While I listened to 92.5, Philly’s country station, in the back of my mom’s Suburban throughout my childhood, many songs about the country, trucks and beer played on a loop. Amidst those songs came somebody different, somebody unlike no other, somebody singing instead about the beach, boats and beer. 

I would not consider myself to approve of excessive loafing around or smoking cigars and would definitely disapprove of drinking at a bar all day, but Buffet’s aura of optimism and damn good melodies made me feel happy. 

When my family and I drive to the Jersey Shore, one hit always gets the whole car singing — “Margaritaville.” The song acts like a portal through which we drive to transform from the work and school world of home to the seemingly more carefree, slow-moving world of the shore.

Admittedly, I do not love Jimmy Buffet for his intricate lyrics or symbolic music videos, but rather for the feeling of his music, music that allows me to celebrate the positivity and optimism intrinsic within his lifestyle of beach living, music that allows me to shimmy like a fish with strangers in New York City. In July of this summer, my mom and I walked down to our neighborhood park and watched a Jimmy Buffet tribute band imitate his swaying voice and Key West style. People danced and sang and basked in a general air of merriment. 

Buffet’s merriment and optimism were certainly not his only skills. The singer’s musical talent and business savvy are to be admired. However, if Buffet’s skills were music and business, I’d say his gift was joy. 

All of this is not to say Jimmy Buffet, or Margaritaville, were perfect but rather that Buffet had a skill for cultivating and sharing positivity through music and experience. Calling Jimmy Buffet a cheerful force is certainly no hot take, which is a testament to its truth. 

Buffet’s music doesn't just make me feel like sitting in a parking lot in South Bend listening to “Margaritaville” is just as good as sitting on the beach in Key West, but convinces me it is, in fact, just as good.

I am thankful for the eternal sunshine of Margaritaville.

Erin Drumm is a senior at Notre Dame studying American Studies, journalism and history. She is from Philadelphia and spends her summers (and every weekend possible) at the shore in Cape May County, New Jersey. Outside of The Observer, Erin can be found cheering on the Fighting Irish and the Phillies, reading and talking about pop culture and history. She can be reached at edrumm@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.