TO: Jimmy Buffett
FROM: Don Skwatzenschitz
RE: Career advice
Jim, babe, hope your winter is going well, and that you’re staying out of the cold and getting plenty of light, even on these overcast days. We’ve had a bunch of them lately. Mitzi gets that seasonal affective disorder, goes all lethargic and depressed on me. She has a special lamp she sits in front of for a couple hours every day, and we have to keep the house temps at 78 degrees, or she won’t get out of bed. Hope you’re dealing with winter a little better than Mitzi.
Anyway, Jim, the music business sucks. I don’t need to tell you that. Downloading rules, but it simultaneously sucks, because the artists can’t make any money off it. Not that they made any money off their records anyway, but you get the point. It all sucks.
You, however, have a career as a live performer to fall back on, and that’s great, man. Just great. But you’re blowing it. You’re really blowing it, like the record companies are blowing it. You’ll be out on the street in a year, you’re blowing it so big. I don’t want you to start sucking too, Jimbo, like the whole music industry. So I’m going to give you some advice:
- Lose the whole beach thing. Guys like Kenny Chesney and Sammy Hagar have been doing that whole scene for years, and you look like a follower. You wanna follow Sammy-friggin’-Hagar? (Look at David Lee Roth on that Van Halen tour last year—he followed Hagar, and look where it got him.) The whole “lifestyle” thing is fine, but you should pick a lifestyle that’s more akin to your fans’ real lifestyles. Put on some business casual and sing about the concerns of the corporate cube-dweller. And you already have some songs that cover that ground, don’t you? Well, you can write some. Escapism is for wusses.
- Embrace the duet. While you’re still alive, it’s time to do the duet album thing, cuz you know they’ll fuck your corpse when you die (see Nat King Cole and Sinatra—no, wait; Sinatra was alive when those shitty duet records were made. Never mind). At least this way you’ll get to choose who you sing with. A few suggestions: Clay Aiken, Wing, Puffy Doody, that Josh Groban kid, and—oh, why not?—Sammy Hagar. Just to show you have respect for the trailblazers.
- Make a video of your fans available. When I was at your show in Virginia back in 2001, you performed fine, but the real performance was in the parking lot, for about six hours before the show. Your fans—where’d you get these people? They were drunk; they cooked a lot; they dressed up like parrots. One bunch even set up a ramp and held dildo races, with different colored dildos. There was a wooded area just past the parking lot, and they were going back there to go to the bathroom. Would have been fine, were it not for the fact that most of them did it in a clearing, where everyone could see them. Have you ever heard of a little cottage industry called Girls Gone Wild? We could do something similar with that oddball troop that follows you around.
- Fake your death. I can’t tell you how big you’ll become if people think you’ve died. That box set of yours? It’ll sell two mill. Even your shitty records (Floridays and Riddles in the Sand come to mind) will sell. Maybe get a tribute record together, with some country people singing your tunes. And some rock guys, too—I can hear Sammy Hagar doing “Coast of Marseilles,” can’t you? Think about it. You can retire someplace where the skiing’s good. Oh, my brother-in-law sells real estate in Seattle—he can get you a good deal out there. Think about it, Jimbo.
All the best,