Jimmy Buffett is pretty well-known for going barefoot, at least during his concerts. It’s part of being a relaxed parrothead. I’m reminded of him since I caught him on the Ellen Show yesterday.
But celebrity barefooting always seems to be rather limited.
We can see some of that relaxed attitude on the cover of Buffet’s album, “License to Chill”.
There’s also a fair bit of barefootin’ relaxation in the hit song he and Alan Jackson did, “Five O’Clock Somewhere”.
Unsurprisingly, Jackson is barefoot on his boat.
They also show him playing while singing while on the prow of his boat.
It does seem odd, though, that he’s the only one barefoot.
And of course Jackson would be barefoot on the pier when he leaves the boat.
Then, if you are familiar with the video, he heads into that shack to where Jimmy Buffett is playing. Barefoot.
Now, Alan Jackson really doesn’t go barefoot much. If you’ve seen his other videos, he’s more of a cowboy boot kind of guy. (He is a Country singer, after all.)
But Jimmy Buffett is well-known for his barefoot concerts. So we get the two of them barefoot together.
Anyways, back to the Ellen Show. Of course, there he is playing barefoot.
One thing that struck me was just how ingrained show-wearing is. Look at all his fellow musicians. They work for a boss who goes barefoot.
Wouldn’t you like to work for a boss who went barefoot? It would be like blanket permission to go barefoot yourself. Yet look at them. More comfortable (and least mentally) shod.
I think (maybe) one of his backup singers is barefoot. Look underneath the neck of his guitar.
But that’s it.
And even Buffett himself isn’t immune from it. He’s known for playing barefoot. But look at the previous pictures. He has flip-flops sitting next to him. In fact, when we went over to talk to Ellen, he was wearing those.
(If you watched the show, they show him doing the song first, then coming over to talk to Ellen. But it is clear from the context that when the show was taped, he talked to Ellen first, then went and played the song—”Margaritaville”, by the way. You can see the performance here.)
Here he is with Ellen.
He came in to talk with Ellen wearing them, then went over to play and took them off. Why not just go barefoot to talk to Ellen?
Look, I’m in favor of people doing what they want to do, doing what they are comfortable doing. And of course Jimmy Buffett can make up his own mind.
But I think this says something about the culture opposed to public barefooting. There is this mental discomfort, imposed by societal expectations, that our soles should be covered. And it is very hard to break out of that.
Jimmy Buffett could have easily gotten away with talking to Ellen barefoot. There were no shoe police there to tell him “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Song”. He wouldn’t have had to bother putting them on for the interview, then slipping them off to sing.
But I bet there was that little niggling in the back of the mind—he had to appear “proper”. So on when the flip-flops.
And it’s too bad that our minds play those sorts of tricks on us to make us conform when we really don’t need to.