“Pencil Thin Mustache”: A Glossary of Terms
We hesitate to spend too much time parroting in and around Margaritaville these days, but we’ll say this for Jimmy Buffett: he knew his mustaches.
We’re thinking of Mr. Buffett’s 1974 “Pencil Thin Mustache,” in which the narrator looks back nostalgically on the suave, caddish heroes he aspired to be as a child. We’ve been fans of the tune for a long time, and yet have always seemed to struggle, like Passat drivers do with “Rocket Man,” to understand some of the references. Buffett assures us this is typical of our generation. “The thing about writing a song like this is that the older you get, the more people there are who need an explanation of the characters in the song.”
So we thought we’d provide just that…
Today we present “Pencil Thin Mustache”: A Glossary of Terms.
Referring to the TV series The Adventures of Boston Blackie in which the character, a reformed jewel thief, uses exotic sports cars to battle on behalf of those who have no friends.
TWO-TONE RICKY RICARDO JACKET
Rayon jacket worn in the 1950s by Ricardo—combines Vegas rockabilly and small-town greaser car culture.
ANDY DEVINE (AUTOGRAPHED PICTURE OF)
Character actor whose primary notoriety for the narrator most likely came from hosting the children’s TV show Andy’s Gang on NBC from 1955 to 1960.
SKY’S NIECE, PENNY
Sky King was a 1940s TV show in which rancher/pilot “Sky” King, along with his niece Penny, capture criminals, spies and lost hikers.
RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE
TV adventure series from 1952 to 1954 starring Jon Hall as Dr. Tom Reynolds, a physician and research scientist who was known to the natives as Ramar (“white medicine man”).
JAZZ MUSICIANS SMOKING MARIJUANA
Refers to the notion in the 1950s that the only people who smoked marijuana at the time were African-American horn players.
No one wore the pencil-thin better.
SHEIK OF ARABY
Jazz standard and subject of a Beatles song, the Sheik of Araby charges across the desert in search of a lover to add to his harem. Yeah, he’s kind of a sketchy dude.
Pomade men’s hair product made popular by this catchy jingle:
Bryl-creem, a little dab’ll do ya,
Use more, only if you dare,
But watch out,
The gals will all pursue ya, —
They’ll love to put their fingers through your hair.
May all your pencil-thin mustaches be as smooth as Chuck Berry’s.
- — C. Brian Smith