Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

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MrTwain
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Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by MrTwain »

I have a good friend from Utah who "discovered" Jimmy Buffett a year or so ago. To help him along, I sent him a weekly Parrothead lesson that included some history and a musical assignment. It was a lot of fun and helped him get started on his Parrothead career. I thought it might be appropriate to save the lessons by archiving them in this forum. I will post one per week until they run out. I hope you enjoy them.


Lesson 1 – Jimmy’s Early Life & Introduction to The Tropics
Recommended Musical Track (Essential to The Lesson). Tin Cup Chalice - http://popup.lala.com/popup/432627086505819678
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To understand what it is to be a true Parrothead, it’s important to know why Jimmy Buffett is so important to so many people. There are many reasons and you’ll learn all of those in due time, of course. However it’s important to put first things first. The number one most significant reason is: He is the only true prophet I’ve ever known. He’s a guy that has life figured out. He's a modern-day Mark Twain (of sorts) - a poet, a musician, a movie producer, actor, and Broadway producer, a traveler, a writer and an entertainer. He’s also one of only seven American authors to have written books that landed on both the fiction and non-fiction New York Times’ best-seller lists.

Background - He grew up on the Gulf Coast as a catholic schoolboy, scared shitless of the supernatural world by the nuns in his Catholic school (as elaborated upon in his song Vampires, Mummies & The Holy Ghost). He came from a family of seafarers. His grandfather was the captain of one of the last true tallships (The Chickamula) to make regular commercial runs from the Gulf Coast to the Caribbean, carrying cargoes of sugar, fruit, and other staple supplies to Cuba, Jamaica, and the minor Leeward & Windward Islands (as he tells us in his immortal song, Son of A Son of A Sailor).

As a youth, Jimmy was enamored with tales of Pirates, sailing the South Seas, and maps. His favorite television show was Adventures in Paradise and his favorite movie was Captains Courageous. His grandparents lived in Southeast Mississippi (a 45-minute drive from his home on Mobile Bay) and much of his childhood was spent there with his cousin, Baxter, playing pirates and civil war along the Mississippi bayous that ferried the barges and opened up into the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Local cuisine and culture was a big part of his childhood, and his love of gumbo, seafood and creole music is present in many of his songs (I Will Play for Gumbo, Creola, etc).

Initially, he floundered through college, but managed to earn his degree. During his college years, he was a busker (a street performer) in the French Quarter in New Orleans. After college, he got a job in Nashville as a reporter for Billboard Magazine (not too shabby). That’s where he was introduced to influential people in the music world. There, he got married and recorded his first LP. Unfortunately, his first album and first marriage were both total flops.

Introduction to The Tropics - After his split with his wife and the failure of his first album, he got a temporary job in Miami, but was flat broke and had no place to stay. Jerry Jeff Walker, a budding artist at the time (Mr. Bojangles, LA Freeway, and more) was living in Miami and took him in. Jimmy still had a couple of weeks before his Miami club gig began, so in the meantime, Jimmy, Jerry Jeff and another friend loaded up Jerry Jeff’s old Packard convertible and headed South to Key West to waste some time. Technically at the most Northern tip of the Caribbean, Key West offered many of the romantic ideals that he had kept since childhood. Key West really was still a pirate town, (more about smuggling than plundering, however) and Jimmy discovered that he was indeed pretty good at the smuggling game. Once there, he fell victim to that dreaded disease, Island Fever, and decided to stay a while.

Musical Lesson - The included musical number, Tin Cup Chalice, is one of his first compositions following his indoctrination and conversion to Island Life. A dreamy, lullaby to the easy-go-lucky lifestyle that he enjoyed in his early Key West years, and certainly not the most well known among average Americans, Parrotheads generally regard this song as his definitive tribue to his love of the Islands. I highly recommend that you learn every word. Then, learn it on the guitar. I promise that if you sing it with a sincere heart, with real intent, with faith in Jimmy, that you’ll begin to truly understand the truth of the words, and it will remind you of the innocence and serenity of the beach and the islands.

Tin Cup Chalice - 1974

I wanna back to the island
Where the shrimp boats tie up to the pilin’s
Gimme oysters and beer
For dinner every day of the year and I’ll feel fine
I’ll feel fine

Chorus:
And I wanna be there
Wanna go back down and lie beside the sea there
With a tin cup for a chalice, fill it up with good red wine
And I’ll be chewin on a honeysuckle vine

Yeah now, the sun goes slidin cross the water
Sailboats they go searchin for the breeze
Salt air it aint thin
It can stick right to your skin and make you feel fine
Makes you feel fine

Chorus:
I wanna be there
Wanna go back down and get high by the sea there
With a tin cup for a chalice, fill it up with good red wine
And Im a chewin on a honeysuckle vine

Yes and now you heard my strange proposal
So get that Packard up and lets move
I wanna be there before the day
Tries to steal away and leave us behind
Ive made up my mind

Chorus:
And I wanna be there
I wanna go back down and die beside the sea there
With a tin cup for a chalice, fill it up with good red wine
And Im a chewin on a honeysuckle vine

Coda:
Yeah with a tin cup for a chalice, fill it up with good red wine
And Im a chewin on a honeysuckle vine

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Last edited by MrTwain on March 2, 2010 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by C-Dawg »

[smilie=coolup.gif] [smilie=cool_goatee.gif] [smilie=coolup.gif] I look forward to next week's lesson :D
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by Conolulu »

You rock, 2t's... 8)

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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by Snowparrot »

very neatly said!

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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by TropicalTroubador »

Sweet!
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by smokindave »

I like that.....fine first lesson....after 40 years of Parrotheadhood...(is that a word?) I am interested in the second lesson 8)

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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by seasinmyviens »

nice first lesson when number two? i'm only 22 and thats got somethings i didnt know ive been a parrothead aslong as i can rember. thanks for the information.
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by conched »

Very good read, Mr. Twain. Thanks!

(That person who went on that trip to Key West in 1971 with JJ and JB was Murphy Fernandez, one of the 6 women that Phil Clark--APLA40-- was once married to...or so I have read.)

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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by HurricaneSeason »

Just curious. You say "Technically at the most Northern tip of the Caribbean, Key West..."

Do you mean culture wise? Geographically it's the Atlantic and Gulf Of Mexico, not the Caribbean. That's like calling the Turks & Caicos The Bahamas and calling Bahama islands "in the Caribbean" as so many magazines say. And actually, Jimmy has stated that New Orleans is the northern most point of the Caribbean, as have a lot of other people, culture, history and architecturally wise.

"To understand what it is to be a true Parrothead, it’s important to know why Jimmy Buffett is so important to so many people."

What is a "true Parrothead"?

Are you sure it's the Chickamula?

You left out one minor detail - that between his first album flopping and moving going to Key West he recorded his second album.

Just curious. I hail your effort, it's just that information can be a very delicate thing to handle and learn. For example, if you were to quote for your friend Jimmy talking about Frank Bama in 'Don't Chu Know', that would be spreading wrong/false information.

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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by Grams »

Nicely done.. when is the 2nd class??

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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by Illini Parrothead »

Yes, very well written, great job dude.
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by Papa T »

Good detail. Nicely done.
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by dnw »

Interesting, thanks for sharing.
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by Bicycle Bill »

Echoing everyone else....great start! You've set the bar pretty high for yourself.
Once the lessons are over, I hope somebody archives these so they don't accidentally go bye-bye.
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by MrTwain »

Awesome response and the questions are definitely relevant.
HurricaneSeason wrote:Just curious. You say "Technically at the most Northern tip of the Caribbean, Key West..."

Do you mean culture wise? Geographically it's the Atlantic and Gulf Of Mexico, not the Caribbean. That's like calling the Turks & Caicos The Bahamas and calling Bahama islands "in the Caribbean" as so many magazines say. And actually, Jimmy has stated that New Orleans is the northern most point of the Caribbean, as have a lot of other people, culture, history and architecturally wise.
The Travel Channel, in discussing the northern-most reef in America in the keys said something to the effect that the keys were at the geographic tip of the Caribbean. However, I honestly think that the northern-most border of the Caribbean is generally said to be somewhere just north of Haiti.
HurricaneSeason wrote:"To understand what it is to be a true Parrothead, it’s important to know why Jimmy Buffett is so important to so many people."

What is a "true Parrothead"?
LOL... Is there really anyone among us who has the authority to answer that question? I don't. It's so subjective. But I think that we can at least agree that it would be important to try to learn the many reasons that Buffett is important to so many people. What do you think being a true Parrothead means?
HurricaneSeason wrote:Are you sure it's the Chickamula?
Yes. On page 212 of Tales from Margaritaville, Jimmy says, "My grandfather was the captain of an old sailing ship, the one I mentioned named the Chickamulla." If you believed that the name of the ship was the Chicamauga, you are mistaken. The Chicamauga mentioned in "False Echoes" is a reference to the civil war ship C.S.S. Chicamauga that was sunk in Mobile Bay.
HurricaneSeason wrote:You left out one minor detail - that between his first album flopping and moving going to Key West he recorded his second album.
I left out many minor details, don't you think?
HurricaneSeason wrote:Just curious. I hail your effort, it's just that information can be a very delicate thing to handle and learn.
Oh I know it. I just have so much difficulty handling and learning information.
HurricaneSeason wrote:For example, if you were to quote for your friend Jimmy talking about Frank Bama in 'Don't Chu Know', that would be spreading wrong/false information.
Yes. Frank Bama did not say that. It was Billy Cruiser, wasn't it? Do you also think it would be spreading false information if I were to have quoted him? Was your question rhetorical, or were you really wanting to know whether I would consider that false information?
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HurricaneSeason
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by HurricaneSeason »

MrTwain wrote:The Travel Channel, in discussing the northern-most reef in America in the keys said something to the effect that the keys were at the geographic tip of the Caribbean. However, I honestly think that the northern-most border of the Caribbean is generally said to be somewhere just north of Haiti.
Ha ha. That's why I asked! Just curious! Such confusion about the north side being the Atlantic and the south side being the Caribbean. Somewhere in the middle they meet - but where is the actual "border"? Other silly things along those lines, for example, that the Appalachians end below Gulf Shores etc... which they do.
MrTwain wrote:LOL... Is there really anyone among us who has the authority to answer that question? I don't. It's so subjective. But I think that we can at least agree that it would be important to try to learn the many reasons that Buffett is important to so many people. What do you think being a true Parrothead means?
Ha ha. I'll never be sure. You know how people can get about being a "true" fan over someone else. Also, though, it seems to be that Parrotheads are very vocal about it and make a point to let people know, wearing t-shirts, etc. Where as, say, just a fan might have the records and books. Sometimes it can be a quasi-political trip for some people. I guess it depends on what is up and what is down.
HurricaneSeason wrote:Are you sure it's the Chickamula?
MrTwain wrote:Yes. On page 212 of Tales from Margaritaville, Jimmy says, "My grandfather was the captain of an old sailing ship, the one I mentioned named the Chickamulla." If you believed that the name of the ship was the Chicamauga, you are mistaken. The Chicamauga mentioned in "False Echoes" is a reference to the civil war ship C.S.S. Chicamauga that was sunk in Mobile Bay.
I asked about that because of the confusion over this name and what boat and where it is and what Jimmy has said and what's been going on in Mobile Bay and blah blah blah. The one in Mobile Bay is supposedly the one that JD Buffett was on.
HurricaneSeason wrote:You left out one minor detail...
MrTwain wrote:I left out many minor details, don't you think?
Well I did just say one. Specifically an album. That's all.

The Frank Bama/Billy Cruiser thing was just an example so yes it was rhetorical I guess. Just like how it says Jimmy has recorded over 40 some albums etc in the jacket liners of his books.

Like I said, just curious. It's an interesting thing, the history of Jimmy Buffett.

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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by MrTwain »

HurricaneSeason wrote:Are you sure it's the Chickamula?
MrTwain wrote:Yes. On page 212 of Tales from Margaritaville, Jimmy says, "My grandfather was the captain of an old sailing ship, the one I mentioned named the Chickamulla." If you believed that the name of the ship was the Chicamauga, you are mistaken. The Chicamauga mentioned in "False Echoes" is a reference to the civil war ship C.S.S. Chicamauga that was sunk in Mobile Bay.
I asked about that because of the confusion over this name and what boat and where it is and what Jimmy has said and what's been going on in Mobile Bay and blah blah blah. The one in Mobile Bay is supposedly the one that JD Buffett was on.
Perhaps I shouldn't have acted so authoritative. In addition to his autobiographical account in the back of Tales from Margaritaville, Jimmy also says in A Pirate Looks at Fifty, "In the years before the Great Depression and World War II, he [JD Buffett] plied the warm waters of the Caribbean as skipper of a five-masted barkentine, named the Chicamauga, to the various ancient Caribbean ports that dated back to pre-colonial days."

He continues, "I remember once when I was very young he showed me his weathered passport from his days as captain of the Chicamauga."

So there it is... perhaps information is harder to handle than one would initially suspect. :-?
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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by HULA GIRL^ »

Nice, I liked the lesson. Keep 'em coming. :P

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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by HurricaneSeason »

MrTwain, you bring up an interesting point though in terms of which ship name it is or isn't and who said what and here is why I say that: There was recently a thread here about, ah I forget the details of who it was, some work being done on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay for some development (that involved cutting down cypress trees and allowing sediment to runoff into the bay) and supposedly the ship being found and the shape it was in, 4 masts instead of 5, which made it a schooner, not a barkentine and blah blah blah. And in that thread is discussion of the name of the ship and on and on.

Although I do not recall exactly the context of it, someone here on the third page (guessing) got a bit p*** at the person who was supposedly working the site and 'sharing' information and, well, hell, just Google it. It's pretty funny.

At least we do know one thing - it's one of those names. What was the boat Jimmy flew over for the thing in Pensacola or wherever? Is that even relative to this ship? Perhaps some tweaking of the facts on someone's part for the sake of a good story? Ha ha. I don't know. But I have my suspicions.

Not that that really means or changes anything. Unless I'm just not remembering correctly.

Which is possible.

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Re: Parrothead Lesson 1 – Early Life & Intro to The Tropics

Post by SMLCHNG »

:D Nice job.

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