VIRUS DIARY: Dreams of Buffett songs and warm distant shores

By Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. – Working from home. Unwilling to go anywhere. Getting tired of the pine trees outside my spare bedroom window.

I am wasting away in Coronaville. What keeps me going is the hope of better days when I can once again roam society freely and attend Jimmy Buffett concerts. Until that happens, I dream of wasting away in Margaritaville as I turn and stare at the Buffett memorabilia that now graces my office wall.

I am a “Parrothead,” dating all the way back to the late 1970s when I was a student at Montana State University. Back then, Buffett’s early albums were the soundtrack to our lives. When my wife and I renewed our wedding vows a few years ago, we did it standing in a swimming pool in Las Vegas with 100 other Parrotheads at a Buffett pre-concert pool party at the Flamingo.

Now, in an effort to keep my spirits up, I am leaning heavily on my favorite singer – and, just as important, on the relaxed island lifestyle that his music espouses.

My new home office is decorated with old Buffett albums. I have posters and Buffett-related signage displayed. Buffett CDs are in constant rotation on my stereo. There are photos of me at past shows.

The music of Jimmy Buffett, and the related Parrothead lifestyle, are all about escaping boring reality – jetting off to an island and shedding the shackles of work and bad weather.

Wallowing in Buffett’s tropical themes is having its desired effect: I can get up each morning and manage to face the day armed with hope that the pandemic will eventually pass.

Why is that? For me, it’s all about the beaches, a key theme in Buffett’s music.

Stepping into the water at the edge of a beach is to instantly be transported to the far side of the world. The water along a beach in California is connected to water along a beach in Australia, Thailand or Japan. It’s a magic carpet to a distant place.

I have never been to Australia, Thailand or Japan. But I have been to many Buffett concerts.

I long for a time when I can again hear “Banana Republics” or “Come Monday” live in concert sitting next to my wife and kids who all have been asked to go along with Dad’s obsession.

It helps that Buffett just released his first studio album in years. It’s really good and plays constantly in my house and car. Because I am a bit of a Luddite, I bought it on CD.

Many times I think of the protagonist in the song “The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful” who is fed up with his life and impulsively flies down to the tropics for a “well-deserved, overdue binge.” We could all use a binge.

Buffett’s music is not all about hedonism. His best-known song, ‘‘Margaritaville,” is about a relationship gone bad and a man trying to understand why. He ultimately realizes that, as the song puts it, it’s his own damn fault.

Ennui and tropical torpor figure in many Buffett songs. That’s OK. Life is not a basket of bananas, as the pandemic has surely shown us. That just makes the music more relevant when you listen to the words.

There’s plenty of torpor in hunkering down at home day after day unable to pursue many of the activities that bring me joy. I like to dine out. I like to play tennis. I like to go to the movies.

Those activities are mostly off limits. Instead, my days consist of sitting in this spare bedroom staring at a laptop as I figure out how to commit journalism without leaving the house.

But the music? It helps. It allows me to change my attitude – without changing my latitude.–––

Virus Diary, an occasional feature, showcases the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. Follow Spokane-based AP correspondent Nicholas K. Geranios on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ngeranios