Jimmy Buffett is the subject of a new, illuminating New York Times profile, which, in myriad ways, investigates the discrepancies between the Jimmy Buffett of yore–younger, more carefree, the champion of the idle working man, the main character in many of his songs–with the new, more corporate-minded Buffett. The profile opens with the 71-year-old singer-songwriter worrying about the lead in his currently-running musical Escape to Margaritaville not being tan enough. The piece then precedes to give a scattered overview of his whole career, which becomes increasingly littered with name-branded products and licensing deals–enough to rival Donald Trump’s list.
“The Jimmy Buffett lifestyle shakes its fist at the Man even while, Jimmy Buffett, with his 5,000 employees, is basically now the Man,” writer Taffy Brodresser-Akner observes. “…How do you maintain a brand that is about being chill when it is maybe the least chill thing in the world to wake up in the grip of panic about your new multimillion-dollar musical?”
These days, Buffett apparently mostly keeps it “chill” by binging HBO and Netflix event shows. “He could be rewatching Game of Thrones, like he wants to, enjoying it even more now that he can tell the characters apart,” Brodresser-Akner writes. “He could be watching Narcos, which he loves, and vaping all day.”
This all might sound in line with the historical Buffett brand, even if he has to fit it all in around a busy schedule of concerts, shilling for his products, and taking meetings about developing new ones. But as Brodresser-Akner points out earlier in the piece, Buffett, who once named his backing band the “Coral Reefer Band,” never authentically tokes anymore, but rather just “vapes oils, only sometimes after work.” It does sound a little weak, when you put it that way.