How fitting that the day this is posted it is National Margarita Day. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a Parrothead. Although my feet are firmly planted in Minnesota, I have a Caribbean soul. While it might be fashionable to bash Jimmy Buffett, you can’t deny the man his genius. Despite my admitted admiration for Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band this is my only pre-1992 album by him. While at first that may seem odd, it really isn’t. While many fans bought 1985’s greatest hits package Songs You Know By Heart, over 7 million if them in fact, true Parrothead’s bought the 1992’s 4 disc box set Boats,Beaches,Bars & Ballads. The box set is so extensive that it almost takes the need away to by any records prior to its release.
Now back to the lecture at hand…..
Jimmy Buffett started his recording career in Nashville as country folk singer as the 1970’s began. He recorded 2 albums of which only one was released and quite frankly was a complete flop. Then Jerry Jeff Walker took him to Key West on a busking expedition in November, 1971 and Buffett fell in love with the layed back island culture. Buffett then moved to Key West and began establishing the easy-going beach bum persona for which he is known. Following this move, Buffett combined country, folk, and pop music with coastal as well as tropical lyrical themes for a sound sometimes called “gulf and western“. Thus began what is known as his “Key West phase”. While Jimmy had experienced some minor success it was 1977’s Changes in Latitudes,Changes In Attitudes and the hit drinking anthem Margaritaville that would propel him into being a household name. And it was with this pressure of following the great success of Margaritaville that Buffett went into the studio to record the follow-up album Son Of A Son Of A Sailor.
While perhaps not a classic album it does contain essential Buffett tracks. Starting with the title track which occupies side 1 track 1. “Son Of A Son Of A Sailor” may sound like a tongue twister but really alludes to the Buffett clan’s nautical ancestry. The song is rather musically subdued and allows the narrator to maintain center stage. Lyrically it touches on sailing, smuggling and living out one’s own destiny (son of a son of a sailor…the sea’s in my veins…my tradition remains…..I’m just glad I don’t live in a trailer) with many nautically themed word plays. Classic Jimmy Buffett. Of course the most well known Buffett song of this collection is “Cheeseburger In Paradise”. It’s a song that is still part of the “Big 8”, a set of 8 songs that gets played at every single Buffett concert. I don’t know what I can say about this song that you don’t already know. Most likely if you are a Buffett fan and have kids…they can sing the clapping bridge portion of this song (I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 & french fried potatoes, a big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer….well good God almighty which way do I steer…for a Cheeseburger In Paradise). Also if you’ve ever been to a Margaritaville Cafe, there’s a good chance you ordered it. There are deeper tracks that are gems of the Buffett catalog here also. The beautiful “Coast of Marseilles” and one of my personal favorites “Manana”.
Other Jimmy Buffett on this blog: #136 Jimmy Buffett – Liscense To Chill (2004)