Beautiful Swimmers

by Jimmy Buffett

from the album Buffet Hotel


Marilyn Monroe did a night shoot in a pool
Posing naked for a Playboy spread
She was old but she still was cool
When they wrapped right after midnight
And the crew went to the bar
Norma Jean just did the backstroke
Like she was reaching for a falling star

Beautiful swimmers
Know how to move
Slidin’ cross the water like a steel guitar
Beautiful swimmers stay in the groove
Riding constant currents near and far

Standing in a tidal pool just east of Baltimore
Watchin’ little blue crabs
Navigate the eastern shore
Every bayou, stream and river
In time runs to the sea
Every tadpole, flounder and softshell
Feels the choreography

They’re all beautiful swimmers
They know how to move
Sneaking past the draggers and the oyster bars
Beautiful swimmers just feel the groove
Painting liquid brush strokes like Renoir

I miss my dorsal fin
I can’t explain
I’m a big fish out of water
Dwelling on the coastal plain

Now if I was as rich as the Aga Khan
I’d tell you what I would do
Buy every man, woman and child on this planet
A mask and a snorkel too
Then I’d lead the wild migration
Destination Waimea Bay
Then we’d splash our way around the world
Life is just a water ballet

Come on all you beautiful swimmers
Who know how to move
Let’s glide across the water like a steel guitar
Beautiful swimmers stay in the groove
Catching constant currents near and far

Jimmy’s Note:

It might strike some folks odd that one could write a song that is based on blue crabs and Marilyn Monroe naked in a pool. Actually, they are two of my favorite inspirations. Marilyn graces the walls of Shrimp Boat Sound in Key West and Surf Shack Studios in Sag Harbor. I was a fifteen year old altar boy in Mobile, Alabama when she died. Needless to say, I was infatuated.

As for crabs, I grew up in a crab-based culture on the Gulf Coast and once I began to travel, more often than not the places I either put down roots or added to my songline seemed to be places where blue crabs also dwelled, like Charleston, the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, Long Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket and Key West. It is quite easy to visualize Norma Jean doing the backstroke and gliding naked through the water like a steel guitar in the scene from her last and uncompleted film, “Something’s Got to Give”, the movie in which she did the first nude scene ever by a major actress. In today’s world, that might not seem like such a big thing, but to me it was, and still is, cool.

Blue crabs are the favorite food of both me and several species of fish that I like to catch. However, when they do the backstroke, they aim their very sharp and menacing claws directly at you, and will become aggressive if you get too close. Maybe Marilyn could have used a pair of those as well. Who knows? All I know is that to me, they are both very beautiful swimmers.

P.S. There are some wonderful things about technology and this is one of them. I wrote the song from memory of what that dip in the pool meant to me as a teenager, and then I found a clip from “Something’s Got to Give” on YouTube. I believe it confirmed my original adolescent fantasies.