Jimmy Buffett in Paris: License to Chill

Jimmy Buffett in Paris: License to Chill

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Jimmy Buffet in Paris
Jimmy Buffett at the American Library in Paris/ ©MeredithMullins

Wishing for an escape to a tropical paradise? Seeking music that brings visions of golden sand, palm trees, and azure water? Curious about how to succeed in the music business? Ready to down a few margaritas (or still searching for a lost shaker of salt)? Looking to put on a parrot head (who isn’t)?

All roads lead to Jimmy Buffett.

The king of the parrotheads is back in Paris this week. He charmed fans at the American Library last evening and will play Saturday and Sunday at La Cigale. And we’re happy to have him here—the eternal inspiration for how to live a happy life.

Just look at his smile. Deep-rooted. Genuine. Contagious. As he says, “I’m a happy guy, a capturing-the-magic guy.”

Jimmy Buffet in Paris
Jimmy Buffett at the American Library in Paris/ ©MeredithMullins

From shy Catholic alter boy growing up in gulf coast bayou country to a Shakespeare enthusiast in college (the comedies, not so much the tragedies) to a performer with a love of entertaining who knows well what his loyal fans want, his career in music and writing has been unique in many ways.

“Leap and the net will appear,” was advice he was given early on.

Talent, luck, and work ethic are the key ingredients, he says. You have to have all three. And then there’s the ability to ad lib life, and, in his case, the instinct to add a large dash of business sense.

Jimmy Buffet in Paris
Jimmy Buffett and Grant Rosenberg (ALP Programs Manager) at the American Library in Paris/ ©MeredithMullins

He started as a college guitar player with three chords and a desire to meet girls. Then, he moved toward being a country singer in Nashville. But it wasn’t until his move to Key West, Florida, in the early 70s that his laid back beach persona took hold. The albums White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean; Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes; and Son of a Son of a Sailor gained him a loyal following.

He understood the pulse of a population, the need for a certain amount of escapism. And he had a passion for the fun of his live shows and a real appreciation for his fans.

Does he get tired of playing the same songs every night? No. He knows well that “there are certain songs you play every night or get killed. It’s about listening to your audience.”

Jimmy Buffet in Paris
Jimmy Buffett at the American Library in Paris/ ©MeredithMullins

His most well-known song, Margaritaville, is one of the mandatory songs. After a few margaritas in Austin, Texas, on his way to the airport, he wrote the first part in three minutes. When he landed in Key West, Florida and got stuck in traffic at a bridge, he finished the last part in another three minutes. Six minutes to the hit that launched a million fans.

His books, he admits, take longer than six minutes. He is a prolific writer, but acknowledges the loneliness of writing. “It’s good to be able to take a break at the bar.”

In the music side of his life, he holds little love for the record companies. “The contracts are not set up for the artist,” he says. “They count on the passion of the musician and the tendency to destroy yourself at an young age.”

That’s why he left the “industry” and established his own way of doing business.

“I didn’t have to depend on the kindness of crooks,” he says. “Work for yourself so you can be yourself.”

That seems to be the secret to that genuine smile. That . . . and capturing the magic.

Jimmy Buffet in Paris
Jimmy Buffett at the American Library in Paris/ ©MeredithMullins


  1. I have followed Jimmy since his very first days. His love of life, hard work and work ethic (which so reminds me of my father) has made all my days better.

    I do believe his lyrics are a guide to life, some funny, some very poignant. On my bucket list is to see play in Paris before “I push up some daisies”.

    Thanks, Jimmy, for who you are and for being my beacon in a “sometime dark place”. You make me laugh, you make me cry, but most of all, you have made my life a much better one.

  2. Just arrived in Paris from England tonight ready to see Jimmy Saturday night
    5th annual visit we love jimmy! !!

  3. Every time I listen to He Went To Paris I am ready to pack my bags and head on over. I have been a Fan since the 70’s when he played at my university. Jimmy does look happy to be in Paris!

  4. Jimmy, thank you for the inspiration. My whole life has been a dance around your music. My parents raised me as a parrothead, and I would not have wanted it any other way. My mom sang with you in Pittsburgh when I was four, and we have met all of your band members. I’ve been singing and playing your songs to audiences for years, but I mostly play them for myself. Your music, your words, your stories…they speak to me ways I can’t describe. You’ve taught me that the sweet spot of life happens when you take on the world as a child, when you trust that intuition over blind ambition. You’ve taught me that taking another road might mean you feel out of place sometimes, like Tully, or like a cowboy in the jungle. You’ve proved, time and time again, that Margaritaville isn’t a place or a destination; it’s is a state of mind. And that all good poets live before their time. I try to practice what you preach, and see the far sides of the world. As a pirate looking at 23, I’m still searching for my one particular harbor. They say I’ve got time, but I haven’t jumped yet… I can only hope that one day, with a little love and luck, I’ll stumble upon the chance to meet you and thank you for how much you’ve influenced my family’s lives, and for how much you have shaped who I am and who I would like to be. Here’s to all the tears, the laughs, and the happiness that your music has brought to parrotheads all over the world. Here’s to working hard and doing everything in moderation. Here’s to you, Jimmy! ????

    P.S. Don’t make us have to beg you to come back to Pittsburgh again next year, please ????

  5. Can’t wait! I’m riding down from Belgium tomorrow. This will be my 4th time to see him live, 1st time in Paris! Looking forward to seeing all the European Parrotheads tomorrow night!

  6. I’ve come to Paris to see Jimmy Buffett – he’s been on my bucket list for years. I live in Western Australia and can’t wait to see tomorrow”s show!