#136 Jimmy Buffett – Liscense To Chill (2004)

I’m an unabashed, unapologetic Parrothead. I love me some Jimmy Buffett. I do realize that there seems to be very little middle ground when it comes to Buffett; people either love him or hate him and there are few in between. Most people’s Jimmy collections are limited to the Box Set or some Greatest Hits compilation and for most that works just fine. Jimmy started out as an unsuccessful country artist in Nashville before discovering the Keys and his island flavored “Gulf Western” sound that made him who people know. After his duet with Alan Jackson “5 O’Clock Somewhere” became a smash country hit in 2003, a light bulb must have went off in Buffett’s head (or more likely a cash register) and he went into the studio. The result was “License To Chill”, an attempt to reintroduce himself to the country audience with an album filled with duets & collaborations with a “who’s who” of country artists, most of them with a Nashville address. Commercially it worked, as even though this was his 26th studio output, it was the 1st Buffett Album to go #1 on the Billboard charts.This is more than obvious right off the bat as the first song on the record is a cover of Hank Sr.’s “Hey Good Lookin'” with help from Clint Black, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Toby Keith & Kenny Chesney. And it’s fun, timeless and sets a tone for the disc. I mean who doesn’t love Hank?? The 3rd song is the title track “License To Chill” which is a collaboration with “Jimmy Wanna Be” Kenny Chesney. Once again the key word here is fun, it’s not a classic & it’s not Dylan…and it doesn’t try to be. The 5th cut on the album is one of my favorites. Once again it’s lighthearted, tongue in cheek Buffett, “Piece Of Work” is a duet with Toby Kieth…it’s country blues with a Bo Diddly beat & should have been a country smash. The 7th cut is a duet with Martina McBride, which was also the 2nd single released “Trip Around The Sun” falls way short of its obvious expectations and it’s attempt to be an introspective ballad. In true Buffett fashion the slow serious ballad is followed by a social commentary song of absolute non sense. “Simply Complicated” with its references to Jerry Springer & cross dressing is simply funny as shit and a great sing a long drinking song. The next song on this disc is my favorite offering on this effort, “Coastal Confessions” is  classic post “box set” Jimmy. He does this one on his own…no duet or country..straight Buffett written in his light, semi-autobiographical style. His duet with Clint Black “Conky Tonkin'” is the closest thing to merging the Buffett sound & country…and it works great. A Florida drinking story song with Clint’s country twang & Jimmy. Then comes the cover of John Hiatt’s “Window On The World” which would not seem a fit for this collection of songs..as niether would the later cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias”..but the citizens of Margaritaville make their own rules…and as I have stated earlier, I’m a sucker for a good cover song. I have 3 versions of “Scarlet Begonias” in my collection…the original Dead version, this one by Jimmy…and Sublime on 40 oz. To Freedom. Needless to say they all have their own distinct sound!!

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