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JIMMY BUFFETT

JIMMY BUFFETT

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    Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. A state of mind is now a state of being. But how did Margaritaville come into a "state of being?" Better yet, how did Margaritaville become a "state of mind?" How could some guy armed only with writers instruments; a pen and a legal pad, create all that is "Margaritaville?"

    The answer is simple: Imagination.

    Jimmy Buffett arrived in Nashville in 1969 prepared to embark on a recording career. Gerry Wood, an old JB associate and currently a writer for Billboard Magazine recalls that, "Barnaby Records signed the artist to a two-album contract--and Jimmy went into the studio to record Down to Earth."

    "Unfortunately, the album didn't sell well. Undaunted, Jimmy went back into the studio to record his second album. Daunted, Barnaby Records "lost" the master tapes for this album titled High Cumberland Jubilee. A convenient excuse for a fledgling label that didn't want another no play/ no pay LP."

    "In a miracle that makes Lourdes look like a carnival shell game, these "lost" Buffett tapes were "found" years later, after Jimmy had become a star, and released on Janus Records. These first two albums show all the potential and promise that was soon to be realized."

    In a story told many times, Jimmy headed for Miami for an alleged booking date. However, when he got there, no job. Settling in at old friend Jerry Jeff Walker's house allowed him time to regroup. A weekend drive down the overseas highway (A1A) landed Jimmy in the town that would prove to be the biggest influence in his musical career, the town that would provide the catalyst for "Margaritaville," the town that continues to play a large role in his life, Key West.

    Jimmy plunged from the frying pan of Nashville into the fire of Key West. Key West in the early 70's was much different than the Key West of today. Smugglers, servicemen, and shrimpers populated the island that had a reputation for harboring those seeking a lifestyle somewhat to the left of norm. Boarded store fronts dotted Duval St., and any dilapidated building that housed a business invariably served alcohol; over or under the counter. The proverbial end of the rainbow carried pot, but no gold. This was the cultural "melting pot" that was to inspire Jimmy to write "The Wino and I Know", "My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, and I Don't Love Jesus", "Tin Cup Chalice", and "I Have Found Me A Home" among others. As Bob Anderson says about Jimmy in 1986 interview in High Times, "Every outlaw has a good story, and Buffett has an eye and ear for them."
    "In 1974 Buffett called and was ready to start the Coral Reefer Band. I went down to Key West. We put together the band and went on the road. Between 1974 and 1982 there was nothing but serious roadwork, especially in the seventies. On the first three albums there were essentially studio musicians in Nashville, but by the Changes in Latitudes album the band was good enough and we were enough of a unit that we went to Miami and did it as a band album. That was the one the hit came off of, `Margaritaville". Some of my favorite rocking crazy stuff came off that album. It was a change from that Nashville play-it safe sound. I like the first albums, but they don't have the energy that `Changes' had."
    Jimmy's second million selling album, Son Of A Son Of A Sailor is released in 1978. The now classic You Had To Be There live double album is also released and earns JB a gold album. This album also awakens people to Jimmy's natural on stage charisma. A Jimmy Buffett concert develops into much more than a live performance of studio songs. A Jimmy Buffett concert is an event. Vacations are planned, marriages are postponed, and schedules are totally revamped in order to make some time an annual Buffett appearance.

    More albums are being released, more Top 40 hits appear, Volcano, Jimmy's album recorded in 1979, also strikes gold. This album is recorded entirely at George Martin's AIR studios in Montserrat. This was one of the first major recordings to come out of AIR studios, which, since that time, has played host to many big name bands, the Rolling Stones among them.
    In 1990 Jimmy released his second live album, Feeding Frenzy and we noted that, "In the spirit of self serve gas stations, salad bars and indoor ultraviolet lighting, Coconut Telegraph readers are given the opportunity to "roll your own.” Jimmy decided to let the fans determine the set list for the summer tour. Comparing to his first live album, You Had To Be There, Jimmy said, “I was in a cast when I made that album, I had just broken my leg in three places, but I still made it look like I was having fun. The new live album was even more fun. I’m singing better – I’m still not a great singer or a great guitar player, but I’m a great Jimmy Buffett.”
    Another summer, another tour and more threats to retire. “I haven’t had a summer off in 20 years. I used to threaten to retire, but I just want a little time off.” Jimmy also summed up his feelings stating that, “What keeps me going is I fortunately have a job that I love to do, I’ve always been addicted to live performing. I think that has a lot to do with the popularity and the fact that there are not a lot of people out there – even in successful terms – that are really that hooked into their audiences. Most people are forced into this marketing, kind of record company theory that you’re forced into having a video and doing things that, to me, are for a very short-circuited career. Mine has been a long-circuited career.”

    Another key reason for Jimmy’s success is his fans. It was about this time that Parrot Heads begin to form local clubs. Thousands of people across the country banning together to positively affect their communities under the Parrot Head moniker. Jimmy noted the phenomenon, but is unable to describe or explain it. “My interpretation is that they are basically pretty normal people with a slight strain of insanity in their makeup. There aren’t many causes out there, and Parrot Head-ism seems to be one that they can affectionately embrace.”
    Fruitcakes
    Jimmy dedicated the Fruitcakes album to his old friend Gamble Rogers. The liner notes state that, "As we each continued down our respective paths, we saw less and less of each other, but stayed in touch as good friends do. When the Margaritaville Cafe opened its doors in Key West, it was Gamble whom I asked to initiate the stage and hopefully leave his mark there for others to follow. That week we shared many a good laugh recalling our days together and caught up on the years that were passing so quickly. He had settled into a quieter routine of teaching and doing festivals around Florida. I was trying to hold down the fort of the troubadours that was being bombarded constantly by pop culture. I attribute a lot of my ability to remain true to my vision to Gamble Rogers and what he taught me. Many of his tricks of twenty years ago are the same ones I still use today. With love and respect, I dedicate this collection of songs to the memory of James Gamble Rogers, a troubadour and a friend who has gone over to the other side where the guardian angels dwell and has in all likelihood, become one."
    Barometer Soup
    Jimmy and the guys were relying on Key West to provide the inspiration for the next album. Hardly an original idea, a variety of artists possessing a variety of talents have treated Key West in a similar fashion. I don't mean "leave the money on the table" fashion, but rather a more positive "feel the vibes" fashion.
    Banana Wind
    " I was born and raised on the shores of the Northern Gulf of Mexico, which runs from Perdido Bay on the Florida, Alabama border (just east of the Flora Bama bar) to the Pearl River that separates Mississippi from Louisiana. To most folks, it is about as far south as you can go without getting your feet wet. To me it is the northern edge of the Caribbean. The night sky and constellations above Pascagoula look pretty much the sane as those above Martinique. The culture that came with the early French explorers was cradled in New Orleans but flowed east and west permeating the bayous, beaches and bays that make up this unique region. Banana Wind is an island term...a wind not as dangerous as a hurricane but strong enough to blow bananas off the trees. This collection of songs is just a continuation of my story. Stories of ships and sailors, life and death, women and children, love and friendship, seaplanes and paradoxes."
    Beach House On The Moon was recorded at Mac McAnally's La La Land studio in Muscle Shoals, AL. and Jimmy's Shrimpboat Sound in Key West.Jimmy kept a journal during the recording process, sharing thoughts and deeds, dinners and desserts. Most of the notes were made available to Coconut Telegraph readers. Reflections, lyric changes and reminiscing all combine in a personal narrative rather than any chronological accounting of the making of an album.
    Meet Me In Margaritaville: Jimmy's notes and observations are collected here, capturing past to present to Parrot Head. The 38 track, 2-CD Meet Me In Margaritaville set includes six new recordings of Jimmy's personal favorites, 4 new live recordings and 2 new songs; Everybody's Talkin' and Sail On Sailor.
    Take The Weather With You
    Award winning bassist Glenn Worf, Mobile native Will Kimbrough, Little Feats’ Billy Payne, and slide guitar master Sonny Landreth joined Jimmy and the resident Coral Reefers in Key West last February at what was then the Party At The End Of The World. We knew better than to refer to it as such so early, but it was a working title. In between fishing and boating trips, and sampling the keys culinary offerings, “should I spend time on the treadmill or eat at Hogfish,” Jimmy and his talented troop started the “party” that ended as “weather” in Mac McAnally’s studio in Muscle Shoals.
    Jimmy Buffett Classics on Rock Band
    Parrot Heads and video game rock stars rejoiced when three of Jimmy Buffett’s greatest hits made their debut. Margaritaville, Volcano, and Cheeseburger in Paradise are now available for purchase for the X-BOX 360 as well as the Playstation3.

    "If you still enjoy going and participating in a show – Rock Band is in the next expression. We already have people who participate in the show; they go in groups, they dress up, they tailgate, it’s kinda like when Mardi Gras comes to town. So it’s very participatory and always has been and that’s what Parrot Heads do, they get into it and that’s what attracted me to Rock Band, that next level of participation."

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