Was Jimmy Buffett beaten by one of these women...
...and did he enjoy it? This is the hidden question within Buffett's Karaoke staple hit "Margaritaville". Allow me to explain. The first line of the classic refrain is traditionally (but incorrectly) parsed as:
- Wastin' away again in Margaritaville,
- Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt.
This understanding demands a complete re-interpretation of the song. The booze-induced lazy funk described in the song is not brought on by a failed romance or by alcoholism. It is the result of a deep, unfulfilled, sado-masochistic longing to be beaten by a member of The United Society of Believers In Christ's Second Coming. The reason the Shaker assault is "lost" is quite simple: There are hardly any Shakers left, and those who remain have no interest in flogging an aging pop singer whose songs glorify laziness and cheeseburgers. (Industriousness being a core virtue glorified by the Shakers. How else did they make all that cool furniture?)
The impossibility of fulfilling this desire for a "Shaker assault" fills the song with a tragic poignancy. Indeed, it is likely that the longed-for "Shaker assault" is not something that ever happened in reality, given the puritanical and pacifistic leanings of the sect. This "assault" is a product the Romantic imagination, much like the pleasure dome in Coleridge's "Kubla Khan": an object of intense desire and longing, forever out of grasp, lost in the ancient past; yet at the same time a creation of the very being who longs for it.
(By the way, I'm not the first person to have noticed this hearing of the lyric, but as far as I know I am the first to give it its proper interpretation.)