Nights of Ecstasy: Jimmy Buffett, Hush Puppies and the Middle School Dance

Album art for “Feeding Frenzy.”

Jimmy Buffett’s live album Feeding Frenzy inaugurated my relationship with the compact disc. I think I bought it at Peaches Records— R.I.P. — on Airport Boulevard in Mobile around 1990. The album is so named because it includes the fan-favorite “Fins,” one of his lesser offerings. (“Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw” is also included.)

While I do not find Jimmy worthy of the Nobel, let the record show that I am not a Buffett hater. He is something of a patron saint in his native Mobile, and to hate this fun-loving and often off-key minstrel would be like betting against the home team.

Buffett, many are surprised to learn, has earned Dylan’s laurels — no small feat/fete. The bard even performed “A Pirate Looks at Forty” with Joan Baez after they reunited in the early’-80s. I thought of “Pirate” as an old man’s song when I was a kid, and now, so many years later, I find myself regarding mother, mother ocean beyond that nautical vantage point Buffett sang so wearily about.

My favorite song to this day on Frenzy is “Come Monday,” if only for the line “I got my hush puppies on.” Hush puppies were de rigeur for middle-school dances and gatherings under the Friday night lights from ’89 to ’92 in Mobile. Jimmy was singing about us, by God.

It is also pretty baller that in 2006 he got busted in France for ecstasy (a charge he denied to Matt Lauer on the Today Show).

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