Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jimmy Buffett Sails Into Google

Being on the Authors @ Google team is my favorite part of my job. It's a great team of literary and music-lovin' folks who, in addition to their regular jobs, work on bringing in writers, musicians, scientists, politicians, and all sorts of notable folk to give talks.

The team at our headquarters in Mountain View hosted an event so big that I was compelled to fly up from LA on my own dime to be there: Jimmy Buffett! Buffett was in town for a show at Shoreline Ampitheater and accepted an invitation to come to Google, and as a long-time Parrothead I had to be there.

Charlie's Cafeteria was packed for the 10am event, and 10am is pretty early on Google time. Jimmy took the stage and I was surprised at his diminutiveness. I'd guess he was about 5'6" but he still seems larger than life. He looked very fit and tan. He was wearing an Izod polo and tan! He told us he dressed up for us by wearing long pants.

Buffett began by talking about his love of Google. He has Google stock, loves Google Maps, the Google homepage, likes Googling to help find song rhymes and references. He also said he was a fan of the Google culture, specifically bringing dogs to work and dressing casual.

He took off his shoes and brought two members of his Coral Reefer band - Mac MacAnally and Nadira Shakur - on stage to perform a few songs acoustically. They sounded great on "Come Monday," which Jimmy said he had written at a motel in nearby Milipitas as an ode to San Francisco. Next up was "Son of a Son of a Sailor", which has always been one of my favorites, and was enhanced with Shakur's vocal. Finally, he played the national anthem "Margaritaville" including the lost verse. It was a more subdued crowd than he was used to, I'm sure, but an appreciative one nonetheless. Click the pic below to see Jimmy singing the lost verse.

From Jimmy Buffett at Google

After the performance, he took questions from the crowd. When one googler asked how he balanced his work and family, Buffett called on his daughter Savannah Jane to answer. She said he had always made sure to make pancakes for the kids when he wasn't on tour, and that she appreciated the time he spent with her and her siblings. In talking about things that surprise him, Buffett mentioned a Margaritaville had opened up in Dubai. When he went over there for the opening he also played for some Navy troops who came to Dubai on R&R.

The event lasted about an hour, and then Buffett hung around and signed autographs and posed for photos. One googler had him sign his laptop, which was already adorned with parrot stickers. After being a parrothead for almost 20 years and seeing about 10 concerts (including a Today Show concert and a small benefit show at Sag Harbor), I was psyched to get my pic with him. He couldn't have been more gracious and friendly.

He got a campus tour and watched some demos and then enjoyed the special Margaritaville-themed lunch in Charlie's Cafe. I'm told he had a cheeseburger, of course. We sent him home with a new Google phone. Hey googlers, if the phone doesn't ring, it's Jimmy!

Check out all my photos and videos from the event.

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