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Ben Picks Ten: Jimmy Buffett songs. June 3, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood came to be Jimmy Buffett appreciators rather late. For most of our lives, we’d have been the folks he gently mocks in the title of his album “Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hit,” since we of course knew “Margaritaville,” but had no idea he’d ever done anything before or after. Then we met our good friends Norman and Dolores, longtime Parrotheads (as Buffett fans are known), and discovered an entire body of work we’d had no clue existed.

Silence and I certainly appreciate the happy-go-lucky, carefree, island-time Margaritaville mentality that endears Jimmy Buffett and his music to his bazillion overworked, overstressed, cold-climate fans. Who wouldn’t want to dream of a carefree Caribbean existence while working 65-hour weeks and freezing in an endless winter? But as we’ve discovered, there’s a lot more to Jimmy Buffett’s music than “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

So herewith are our friend Ben’s top ten (plus, of course, one) picks as to Jimmy Buffett’s all-time greatest songs (so far):

When the Coast Is Clear. This just has to rank as one of the all-time greatest songs. It’s a clear-eyed take on getting back to who you really are, and it’s wonderfully singable, too. What more could you ask of any song?

The Coast of Marseilles. Okay, so maybe coasts are figuring a bit too prominently in my early choices, but this mournful look at love and loss is my second-favorite Buffett song. Listen, and then dare to disagree.

It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere. Who wouldn’t love this working man’s anthem? Our friend Ben has no clue if it was actually penned by Jimmy or his partner in performance, Alan Jackson. But whoever wrote it, it nails the working experience like nothing else.

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On. As fans of Eckhart Tolle, Silence and I love this musical reminder to “be here now.”  

A Pirate Looks at Forty. This is my favorite of Jimmy’s many storytelling songs. Jimmy’s a wonderful teller of tales, and this one appeals to the inner pirate in all of us.

Margaritaville. Can’t leave this out, no matter how cliched it’s become. It’s a great sing-along song that’s defined the ultimate fantasy lifestyle for at least one generation.

Desperation Samba (aka Halloween in Tijuana). The driving beat and sense of danger bring to mind my musical hero, Mark Knopfler. Fortunately, Jimmy appreciates Mark, too, as we’ll see. Talk about a pulse-pounding, singable song! 

Incommunicado. There’s no bravado, false or otherwise, in this song about going invisible, through choice or otherwise. 

Whoop de Doo. We love Mark Knopfler’s own version of his bitter but oh-so-true song about recovering from lost love. And we love that Jimmy invited Mark to play on his version—we’d know that distinctive guitar style anywhere. If you’ve ever loved and lost, this one’s a must-sing-along.

Weather with You. This song first struck our friend Ben as a bit weird, but it grew on me, and once it did, I couldn’t shake it. See what you think!

And the bonus:

Stars Fell on Alabama. Jimmy’s voice is no match for Ella Fitzgerald’s, but his personalized take on this old standard is irresistible. We love his tributes to Montgomery (where my sister lives) and Birmingham (where Silence has cousins). It almost makes me forgive him for dissing Nashville, our hometown, in “Volcano.” 

So, now you have my ten (plus one). What have I forgotten? Let me know!

Comments»

1. tangledbranches - June 4, 2011

Well, I tend to like the sunny, happy, relaxed, imbibing songs myself, but I’d add “Son of a Son of a Sailor” and “Pencil Thin Mustache” and – because I like food songs – “I Will Play for Gumbo”.

Have you read Jimmy’s autobiography? I enjoyed it.

Hi tangledbranches! I actually had “Son of a Son of a Sailor” on my list before I realized I had to include “Whoop de Doo.” It’s a wonderful song, especially if you love your grandfather as I did and he obviously did. I wasn’t as taken with “Pencil Thin Mustache” until I heard that a famous German shepherd had a starring role in a film about Boston Blackie, whom I’d only previously heard of in Jimmy’s song. As the privileged parents of our beloved Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special, now of course we want to try to find the film and learn more about who on earth Boston Blackie was. And, shriek, I must confess that until your response I’d never heard of “I Will Play for Gumbo.” Still more to learn! Someday we’ll find a library copy of Jimmy’s autobiography, which we’d both love to read. I expect we’d enjoy it too, especially if we were lucky enough to be vacationing on “a salty piece of land” at the time! Many thanks for checking in.


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