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What is a Parrot Head?

Have you ever been asked that question? I know I have. And I stuttered and stammered and hemmed and hawed, trying to come up with something better than "a Jimmy Buffett fan....., you know the guy who sings Margaritaville." I think Dennis Arnold, President of the St. Louis Parrot Head Club, has described what being a Parrot head really means as well as anybody ever has. Below are his thoughts on the matter. This article is printed with the kind permission of Dennis . Thanks Dennis for letting me share this.


What is a Parrothead? Have you ever been asked that question? I'm sure if you, in any way, express your beliefs to anyone who is unfamiliar with Jimmy Buffett or his devoted followers, you have very likely ended up trying to explain what being referred to as a Parrothead means. I'm one of those people who displays his feathers proudly. Much to my wifes chagrin, I have a "Parrothead" license plate in the rear window of my car. My official, legal license plate reads "KEYWST6". both of these are my ways of expressing to the world that I am a Buffett follower and much perfer to live my life on island time. When someone asks about the meaning of the plates I usually just briefly explain about Jimmy Buffett fans being referred to as Parrotheads. If I still get a dazed and confused expression from them I go into further detail. For some unkown reason more people have heard of the Grateful Dead than are familiar with our hero. I'm not sure what the correlation is between being dazed and confused and being familiar with the Grateful Dead, but I bet there is one. These people are also usually familiar with the term "Deadhead" and all of its negative connotations. A brief explanation of Buffett's tropical attitude being the reason for the switch from "dead" to "parrot" usually helps to remove the confused expression, if not the dazed. This, I have found, is usually sufficient to satisfy most casual inquiries, but there have been a few who have wanted to delve further into the parrothead phenomena. It was these people who got me wondering to myself, what actually is a Parrothead? And why in the world would anyone want to be one?
I think it goes much deeper than the typical Jimmy Buffett fan explanation. To me being a Parrothead is a state of mind, similiar to being in Margaritaville. Is it trying to be like Jimmy Buffett? In some ways yes, and others no.
Trying to be like Jimmy Buffett can be tough. Do you emulate the young, wild, devil-may-care party animal? (So honey, why don't we get drunk and....?) How about the hard working, dedicated musician with the soul of a poet? (Mother, Mother Ocean..I have heard your call) And then, of course, there's the older, wiser father-figure who beckons us to " follow in my wake" after he has "smoothed the troubled waters". How one sees Buffet and how you relate to him depends on where you are in your own life, and your own mind. I don't think age has much to do with it. I know some young pholks who actually listen to the words of the songs and figure out the meanings behind them. After all, "Margaritaville" is not really a drinking's about self-realization and taking responsibility for ones actions. And I also know some older pholks who are still trying to match Buffett hangover for hangover. Of course there are always the ones who end up somewhere in the middle. Go figure.
Through his music and writings Jimmy Buffett has allowed us to, vicariously, live a lifestyle that many of us aspire to. The partying, the money, the creativity, the adventure, the sunshine, the ocean are all part of it. But, I think it is the freedom that is portrayed by his lifestyle that appeals to most of us. At least it does to me. The freedom to be who we think we really are. Without the restrictions of having to go to the same old job, in the same old rut, day in, day out, just to earn a living. Trying to be who we think everyone else wants us to be. The freedom to express our feelings and creativity in whatever way we want. To be able to leave the rat race behind, even if just for a little while. For instance, most of us have been to a Buffett concert. Some of us even remember we were there. Think back to your last concert. While you were there you saw vocational counselors, customer service reps.,doctors, nurses, lawyers, secretairies, housewives, househusbands, mothers, fathers, grandparents, college students, and an incredible gumbo-like conglomeration of every type of person you can imagine. But, with the possible exception of Fred, you probably couldn't tell what any of those people did just by looking at them. Because for that fast moving few hours they were all Parrotheads. And during that short time we were all allowed the freedom to share in Jimmy Buffett's life and lifestyle. Whatever we imagined that to be. So, I think being a Parrothead can entail adopting whatever aspect of the Buffett mythos you might relate to, or maybe it's just taking the freedom to release an aspect of ourselves that we feel is Buffett-like. Either of these explanations works for me. But then, indecision may or may not be my problem.
The thoughts and feelings expressed in this article are, as stated, mine and mine alone, and have been developed over years of earnestly persuing Parrothead perfection.

You may E-mail Dennis Arnold with comments on this article at:

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