Brilliant Songs #40: Jimmy Buffett’s “Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season”

I was never one of Jimmy Buffett’s devoted fan base of “Parrot Heads,” about whom you can watch a full-length feature documentary available on You Tube after you’re done here. But I am here to declare that I played the living hell out of his “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” album in 1977, just as I was entering graduate school in the essentially sober field of psychology.

My head filled with earnest Freudian-Jungian-Reichian-Rogerian-Maslowian speculations on human nature, the album’s title song, not even to mention the anthemic “Margaritaville,” served as a kind of ballast during that period of my life.

It reminded me every time I wore another of countless grooves into the vinyl that I better not try to understand human beings without paying homage to their desire to let their hair down and party now and again—loudly, emphatically, with a true sense of joy and abandon. (Granted, introverts usually choose subtler expressions of that desire, but the desire itself would appear to be universal.)

Certainly the whole of rock & roll speaks emphatically to the human need for periodically roaring at the heavens.

But for all his bonhomie, Buffett, who died last week from a rare skin cancer—“He was ONLY 76!” Mary cried out when she rushed in to tell me the news—wasn’t nearly as much about excess as his image (and followers) often suggested.

In truth, he perfectly captured the seemingly primeval, infectious need for good times without the implication that life should be just one giant, perpetual party without end.

In other words: party hardy (hearty?), folks, but don’t take that admonition too seriously either. Easy does it, in most everything, always…



We hear that Buffettian sense of perspective in the playfully titled “Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season,” a more tender, reflective ballad than the generally rollicking, good-timing tunes on which he made his reputation. In it, Buffett skillfully employs the metaphor of unhinged nature to suggest the chaotic life of a road-faring, hard-partying musician.

Sure, passing out in a hammock, sleeping past noon and searching for a Bloody Mary upon awakening can lead to all manner of mirth and riotous stories to be laughed over with your buds decades later.

Put too many of those days and long nights together, though, as Buffett does in the first stanza, and it won’t be long before the needs of the second stanza are compelled to assert themselves: “And now I must confess/I could use some rest/I can’t run at this pace very long.”

The admission, perhaps startling given its source, might lead us to assume Buffett wrote this song well into his maturity, decades of mellowing under his belt after his wildly popular 1973 B-side hit, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” (and Screw…). But our assumption would be wrong.

He wrote it only a year later, at age 27, for his fourth album, “A1A,” which is a Florida state road running through many oceanfront towns that Buffett was familiar with and could approach, as he matured, from his choice of land, sea or air. (He became an accomplished sailor and pilot over the years.)

(And, we should note, the best-selling author of five books and a businessman with serious chops—active in real estate, a chain of restaurants and retirement communities, various charitable and political causes, and much else. He was reportedly worth more than $1 billion when he died—so much for being a beer-swilling slacker nursing hangovers all his life long.)

Let’s give the song a listen now if you’d like before wrapping up below, where the lyrics are also printed for your easy reference.



As the wind starts “blowin’ harder” with “whitecaps on the ocean,” does our man stay true to form by making a dash for his favorite neighborhood bar’s hurricane party where his local chapter of Parrot Heads have congregated?


He knows instead that “It’s time to close the shutters/It’s time to go inside.” By way of explanation, he tells us he’ll be in “Gay Paree” in a week, and as we know, “That’s a mighty long airplane ride.”

“Yes it’s quite insane/I think it hurts my brain,” he admits in the song’s chorus.

But this is Jimmy Buffett, for whom it would be sacrilege to wholly renounce his carefree, party-loving ways. (News reports indicated his final words to his sister were, “Have fun.”)

Which leads us to his departure lines in the final chorus.

Summing up, we hear that all the insanity and brain-hurt serve a purpose. As much as he must temper it and recharge, he knows, too, that …“It cleans me out and then I can go on/Yes it cleans me out and then I can go on.”

And go on he most certainly did over his clean-hearted, fully-lived, take-no-prisoners life, an iconic figure singing iconic songs of distinct, recognizable sensibilities, embodying a sorely needed message for everyone to just lighten the hell up and join him in his joy-filed search for his lost shaker of salt—and all the good times of which that quest will forever remain a potent symbol.


Squalls out on the gulf streamBig storms comin’ soonI passed out in my hammockGod I slept ’till way past noonStood up and tried to focusI hoped I wouldn’t have to look farI knew I could use a Bloody MarySo I stumbled next door to the bar
And now I must confessI could use some restI can’t run at this pace very longYes it’s quite insaneI think it hurts my brainBut it cleans me out and then I can go on
There’s something about this SundayIt’s the most peculiar grayStrollin’ down the avenueThat’s known as A1AFeelin’ tired that I gotta inspireI knew that it wouldn’t last longSo all alone I walked back homeSat on the beach and then I made up this song
And now I must confessI could use some restI can’t run at this pace very longYes it’s quite insaneI think it hurts my brainBut it cleans me out then I can go on
Well the wind is blowin’ harder nowFifty knots or thereaboutsThere’s white caps on the oceanAnd I am watchin’ for water spoutsIt’s time to close the shuttersIt’s time to go insideIn a week I’ll be in Gay PareeThat’s a mighty long airplane ride
And now I must confessI could use some restI can’t run at this pace very longYes it’s quite insaneI think it hurts my brainBut it cleans me out and then I can go onYes it cleans me out and then I can go on


One more for your roads…


Comments? Questions? Suggestions, Objections, Attaboys? Just scroll on down to the Comments section below. No minimum or maximum word counts!

A list of all previous posts in this “Brilliant Songs” series can be found here.

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Deep appreciation to the photographers! Unless otherwise stated, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing.

Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at top of page.

Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact:

B&W portrait by Brandon, Mountain View, California

Buffett on stage by Kent Russell, Birmingham, Alabama

7 comments to Brilliant Songs #40: Jimmy Buffett’s “Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season”

  • Jonathan P.  says:

    I had been thinking of going on a bender this weekend to honor Jimmy, but now I’m rethinking it, thanks!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Well, maybe just set a firm limit of one or two, Jonathan—I’m sure Jimmy would approve. Cheers!

  • Kevin Feldman  says:

    Thanks Andrew, like you I always appreciated Jimmy Buffet but didn’t spend oodles of hours listening to his music. Caught him once in LA on the Cheeseburger in Paradise Tour (1978) at the outdoor Universal Amphitheater – BIG fun in terms of joyful singing, excellent band, ability to connect with the audience in creating a solid party vibe, but not what I spent much time listening to. I had never heard this tune but found it to be an excellent example of JB’s considerable skill set – I was especially knocked out by soulful steel guitar playing, turns out it is Doyle Grisham and this was one of his first gigs w/JB – he was in/out until 1998, then stayed hitched to the Coral Reefer Band until their final concert, May 6 of this year in San Diego. Jimmy Buffet was a seriously beloved fellow who brought much joy and happiness to fans, fellow musicians, family, and friends across the globe… a very full life indeed!

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” is one of those rare songs that can whisk me back to a time and place unvisited in years but never forgotten. Long ago, perhaps for a just few hours, I sat in an overcrowded, sweaty Ensenada bar, licking salt, chugging a shot of tequila and biting into a lemon wedge with friends; we were all taking a break from college and inhaling the south of the border vibe. Thankfully, the “lick, chug and bite” ritual was short-lived. Like Buffett, I couldn’t run at that pace very long. Today, living just an hour from the Gulf, gives more life to the lyrics of “Trying to Reason with the Hurricane Season”. When Hurricane Harvey dropped four feet of rain on Houston in 2017, I must confess I got tired and soaked running back and forth between the house and the pool’s backwash valve. It was a pain in the ass, but it did prevent my backyard from becoming a lake. It’s now a crucial note on my to-do list of reasoning with the hurricane season.

  • Kirk  says:

    Bonhomie…You always have the perfect words Andrew, thanks for the vocab lesson once again. I get the same vibes from Jimmy as described by Mr. Pharrell’s lyric, “Happy… a room without a roof”. Of course no reference to a hurricane intended. Here in Costa Rica, we prefer his Volcano song.

  • Karen Malin  says:

    Jimmy Buffett has provided a playlist to many important phases of my life. One being my daughter’s first in person concert when she was 8. I still see that little girl in her Hawaii print shirt belting out the words to “why don’t we get drunk…”. I have always been drawn especially to Jimmy’s songs expressing the need for retreat, respite, reset! In addition to “Tryin’ to Reason “, “changes in latitude, changes in attitude” and “boat drinks” express the need to get away! The song that is on my personal escape playlist is “ one particular harbor”. When I need to decompress, take a break and breathe I play this song and visualize my own particular tropical harbor ~~ a place in the world where I feel peace and rejuvenation. The last time I saw Jimmy perform was virtually from the Belly up in San Diego. June of 2022. He was there with a few of his band members~~ together for the first time since Covid! It was an intimate and amazing experience. Still can’t believe he’s gone!

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Kevin, thanks for that tidbit about Doyle Grisham; I too had noticed the steel guitar but hadn’t investigated its source. Your mention of Buffett’s final concert put me in mind of a friend’s recent Facebook post with a graphic that said: “Life is short. Buy the damn concert tickets!” Had me thinking of the crowd at that concert, none of whom could have known they would now be able to say, “Whoa, I saw Jimmy Buffett’s last concert!” Never can tell, can we?

    Robert, I think I may have been with you in that Ensenada bar, though the specific memory is a tad hazy, for all the obvious reasons…

    Kirk, I was very pleased to pluck that word out of the air upon considering Buffett’s basic, lifelong vibe. Sometimes, only one word will adequately/precisely convey an intended meaning, and though all too often at this age I have to wait a spell before my RAM can retrieve it, this one appeared readily, praise be! Glad you noticed, enjoyed and mentioned it here. Meanwhile, I’ll have to look into that volcano song, which IS escaping my memory!

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