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Top 10 Jimmy Buffett Songs (Caribbean Soul)

2011 April 19
by Mike

Ok, we’ve done the Top Ten for The Allman Brothers Band, Bob Dylan, and CSN/Y. Up now: the best of Jimmy Buffett. This one is being guest written by my good friend Charles Mattis (AKA Caribbean Soul), a Parrothead Supreme, who can take us beyond “Come Monday,” “Cheeseburgers in Paradise,” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”

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The Other Jimmy

If you like Jimmy Buffett at all, you probably enjoy his fun, party, sing-a-long songs like I do, but is there anything else to him? Is there anything more thoughtful, perhaps even intellectual about the rest of his music? For me, there is “the other Jimmy”—the one not revealed on the usual top ten lists—and that is the Jimmy I like most. Most of our lives involve varying levels of passion, faith, doubt, dreams, uncertainty, courage—all themes found in the remainder of his work. Jimmy Buffett is a great storyteller, which is one of the primary reasons he has survived 45 years in the music industry despite being a mediocre rhythm guitar player, with a very average voice and without riding a particular genre (“am I country, pop, or rock and roll?”). What most people don’t realize is how seriously he takes his “summer job” with a work ethic that belies his laid back person . . . “I’m still here, I didn’t have to go to rehab and I’m not broke.” No, Jimmy, you are not broke, grossing over $100 million annually (Rolling Stone named him the 7th wealthiest rock star in 2006), with a growing bevy of businesses that hawk the “Margaritaville” brand—he knows what people want in island escapism. Not bad for a former altar boy from Pascagoula.

Now let’s get to what makes the music work, beginning with a few disclaimers. This post is NOT about the music insisted on by the faithful; only one on my list is found in his ten most performed concert songs. This list is about my favorites, which reveal the other Jimmy (i.e., no “Margaritaville” . . . sorry, it’s become too commercial). What drives Jimmy’s songs is his sense of story which he refers to as song lines that include colorful, even beautiful lyrics mixed in a roux of fun, romance, tragedy, whimsy, and adventure: “I travel on the song lines, that only dreamers see, not known for predictability.” The following is from the liner notes off of the Banana Wind album (1996) that I believe partially captures this idea:

“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. Who I am and how I got here and where I am going are the questions whose answers have yet to be written, but the clues are the songs. I know the secrets of some, others I do not. They just appear like a barnacle encrusted bottle with a mysterious message inside, washed up on a deserted beach hiding in the sand, or they can be found in the secret gardens of the French Quarter waiting for the next young dreamer to come along and stake a claim.”

To narrow this list to my ten is quite a task. According to www.buffettnews.com, Jimmy has performed over 615 different songs in concert—from A (“A Little Bit of Rain”) to Y (“You’ll Never Work in Dis Bidness Again”). I have tried to put these together by themes and general ideas, mentioning some of the songs that remind me of the theme; however, many don’t fit one theme and in using this method, there is significant overlap. Finally, my list changes regularly. As Thom Lemmons said in his post about his CSN(and Y) top ten, “on any given day, the list could be different.” I suppose that is the nature of a true enthusiast. That said, let’s cast off the lines, shall we?

10. Biloxi
Like most artists, Jimmy seems to have a heightened sense of place. He mentions so many different locales in his songs, both those he wrote and those he didn’t (this one is written by Jesse Winchester). Some of his songs chronicle specific trips like “Far Side of the World” (“from Paris to Tunisia, Casablanca to Dakar”), and “Somewhere Over China” (“Shanghai or old Peking, on a plane or a boat in an envelope, real adventure has its ring”). Places on every continent are mentioned in his songs (including Antarctica) and even some locations in space such as the Pleiades, Jupiter, Orion, Milky Way (both the candy bar and the galaxy), the Southern Cross, Mars, and his “Beach House on the Moon.” But if you bring him down from space, you sail closer to the equator (which he refers to as the “little latitudes”) including both the South Pacific and the Caribbean (an entire genre unto itself), and from there you drift toward the gulf coast (“I‘ve got a native tongue, from way down south, it sits in the cheek of my gulf coastal mouth”). After that it gets harder to pin him down with verses stretching from Texas (“I got a Caribbean soul I can barely control and some Texas hidden here in my heart”) to Florida (“I’m back to livin’ Floridays, blue skies and ultra-violet rays”). Many towns along the gulf coast states are in his song lines from Creola to Pensacola, and Thibodeaux to Mobile. To tie down his adventures to one place is really not possible—Key West and St. Bart’s come to mind—but I believe his heart will always return to the central the gulf coast (which is why he performed in Gulf Shores to channel his anger over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill). Listen to his words about New Orleans (again from the liner notes on the Banana Wind album):

“New Orleans is the mother city of the region, and it was there, not on a distant palm lined stretch of beach, that I had my first Caribbean experience. It did not come to me in dreams or stories, but in the simple stalk of a banana tree growing and flourishing along side live oaks and slash pine in the sandy soil of a French Quarter garden. The banana tree seemed so out of place, and then again it wasn’t. It was a discovery as fascinating to a ten year old boy as the Galapagos must have been to Darwin. It was not the tree itself, but the place from which it had come that set me to day dreaming and thinking about the tropics.”

So, back to the song. Jimmy first played music in Biloxi in the mid-60’s at a place called Trader Jon’s which later blew away in Hurricane Camille, although I doubt his set list included calming, pensive songs like this one. The trademark harmonica of Greg “Fingers” Taylor on “Biloxi” always reminds me of the early days when I first started listening to Jimmy’s music in the 70’s. The strings at the end of the song gently bring it home. These lines say it all and reflect his love for the Mississippi delta: “Down around Biloxi, pretty girls are dancin’ in the sea, they all look like sisters in the ocean. The boy will fill his pail with salty water, and the storms will blow from off towards New Orlean . . . and the sun will set from off toward New Orleans.”


9. School Boy Heart
Jimmy has a wide variety of songs that speak of his personal interests, talents, and foibles. So many of these self- reflective tunes come to mind: “That’s What Livin’ is to Me,” “Window on the World,” “If It All Falls Down,” “King of Somewhere Hot,” “When the Coast is Clear,” “Stranded on a Sandbar,” “Growing Older But Not Up,” “When the Wild Life Betrays Me,” “Its’ Midnight and I’m Not Famous Yet,” “We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About,” and “Jimmy Dreams” (“Who knows why you start rediscovering your heart, but you do it again and again”). Even in this list, you can see his self-deprecating humor and depth of self-knowledge. For most, including me on some days, “A Pirate Looks at 40” is the quintessential one in this group (though the pirate is now looking at 70). For today, “School Boy Heart” is my pick: “I got a school boy heart, a novelist eye, stout sailor’s legs and a license to fly, I got a bartender ear and a beachcomber style, piratical nerve and a vaudevillian style.” The song reminds me that human beings are complex creatures, and it is not so easy to label or pigeonhole any of us . . . “something like a swiss army knife, it’s my life.”

8. Lovely Cruise
In all of Jimmy’s songs about boats, you would think I would pick something else. I have sailed quite a bit myself, accompanied by my own playlist of Jimmy’s sailing songs including “Son of a Son of a Sailor,” “Boat Drinks,” and “Nautical Wheelers.” However, the keyboard and a smooth, jazzy harmonica put this song together with great memories for me. It has become a tradition for us to play this song on the last day of our vacations, whether it is a landlocked “cruise” or coming back to port from an open ocean sailing trip, bare boating in the Caribbean: “I’m sorry it’s ended. It’s sad but it’s true, it’s been a lovely cruise.” We have also had the privilege of sharing several vacations with friends and this song reminds me that our friendship continues, even when we go back to our routines. “These moments we’re left with, may you always remember, these moments are shared by few . . . it’s been a lovely cruise.”

7. Gypsies in the Palace
There is no question that Jimmy’s music is filled with humor. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and doesn’t want anyone else to, either. I have always found humor in his bizarre cultural references. What is even more humorous is that those songs move on, while the cultural references are suspended in time. Here are just a few (not in chronological order): Anita Bryant, MTV hosts, 3 Mile Island, Spiro Agnew, Ricky Ricardo, Let’s Make a Deal (“my whole world lies waiting behind door #3”), Juicy Fruit, John Wayne, Pencil Thin Moustache, Stanley Kubrick (and his buddy Hal), Star Trek (“Could you beam me somewhere, Mister Scottie? Any old place here on Earth or in space? You pick the century and I’ll pick the spot”), the Gong Show, Brylcream, the Ayahtolla, television preachers (with bad hair and dimples), Captain Kangaroo, the Village People, Jerry Springer, Howdy Doody, Junior Mints, Miss Piggy—like I said, fun.

There is a long list of songs with humorous lines and stories: “Hotel Room” (“A monogram towel and a bucket of ice, a chest of drawers and a mirror that lies . . . that couldn’t be me in the gorilla disguise!”), “Fruitcakes” (“There’s a little bit of fruitcake left in every one of us!”), “Everybody’s Got a Cousin in Miami,” “Ballad of Skip Wiley” (based on a hilarious character in a Carl Hiaasen novel), “Cinco De Mayo in Memphis” (“Mariachis singing the blues, Southern belles and senoritas, all sportin’ blue suede shoes”), “Cultural Infidel,” “Coconut Telegraph” (“Was he that big of fool? To do a belly buster high dive, and miss the entire pool?”), “Mental Floss.” But “Gypsies in the Palace” gets the nod today.

Jimmy is quoted as saying ““I have heard that some of the great parties of all times have been at my house—when I wasn’t there.” This is a raucous song (think “Hoedown” complete with fiddle) about Jimmy’s friends (including one named Snake) that “take care” of his house while he is on tour. “We’re gypsies in the palace, he’s left us here alone, the order of the Sleepless Knights will now assume the throne. We ain’t got no money, we ain’t got no right, but we’re gypsies in the palace, and we got it all tonight.”


6. Brown Eyed Girl
I am not sure I know any popular artist who has done more covers than JB; the latest count is somewhere around 190. Some of them he has made so popular, most people don’t know they were not his (“Banana Republics” comes to mind). Jimmy collaborates across a wide spectrum of talent—through the years there have been over 280 members, honorary members, and special guests of the Coral Reefer Band. He has even had guests who performed “incognito” with names like Marvin Gardens, Kay Pasa, Al Vacado, and Kitty Litter. And if you ever see a band advertised at a small venue (particularly on New Year’s Eve in Aspen or on St. Bart’s) with the name of “Freddie and the Fishsticks,” you will find Jimmy. He often invites the original performers of the songs he covers to perform with him, but puts his own twist on the music. Some of my favorites include James Taylor’s “Mexico,” Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” (debuted in the movie “Hoot”), and “Southern Cross” by Steven Stills (which could make my top ten list on any given day). But the one that still does it for me is “Brown Eyed Girl.” I prefer it over Van Morrison’s original any day. The addition of the happy steel drums of Trinidad and Tobago provided by Robert Greenidge make it a summer time anthem for me. “Sha la la la la la la la la la la ti da”!

5. Remittance Man
Jimmy likes to tell stories of people who get fed up with their every day lives and head to the tropics to live out their fantasies (“Still time to start a new life in the palm trees . . . if it doesn’t work out there’ll never be any doubt, that the pleasure was worth all the pain”). While giving us ocean breezes and a feel for exotic people and places, it doesn’t always work out well in songs like “Cowboy in the Jungle”—“Now he’s stuck in Portobello since his money all ran out”; and the melancholy revealed in “Banana Republics”: “Expatriated Americans, feelin’ so all alone, telling themselves the same lies that they told themselves back home.”

Most are unaware that Jimmy tells some tragic, lonely, wistful stories in songs like “Coast of Marseilles,” “False Echoes” (“he waltzes on memories while he fades like a flare”), “Pacing the Cage,” and “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On” (for post-Katrina New Orleans). A very close second for me in this general category is “Nobody Speaks to the Captain No More” (“People said he’d be better dead, his glory days are gone, he sits on the shore with his saxophone . . . and plays”); however, “Remittance Man” takes this spot. The song is based on a tale told by Mark Twain in Following the Equator, about a “black sheep of the family clan that broke too many rules along the way.” This man isn’t getting away from it all by choice, but because his family disowns him. They banish him from mother England, forcing him to travel throughout the vast British empire to receive his inheritance a little at a time: “He collects his precious pittance in every port of call.” He would stay in port until his money ran out and then was told where to go next, not being ambitious enough to break loose and make his own way: “He’s a sinner on the mainland, he’s a sinner on the sea, he looks for absolution, not accountability.” A tragic figure, an unforgiven man: “you could claim you were born a prince, but you’re the only one you can convince.” He is driven to lonely wandering and finally looses his mind: “By the harbor lights of Sidney or the Bora Bora moon, he paints he recites his sad confessions, to the seagulls and the loons.” The harmonica cries with the sea birds a mournful song, void of mercy or grace.

4. Happily Ever After (Every Now and Then)
Jimmy is frequently playful with words and phrases: “if the phone doesn’t ring it’s me,” “the weather is here, I wish you were beautiful,” “off to see the lizard,” “a white sport coat and a pink crustacean”—just to name a few.

Jimmy also does not shy away from religious references and seems to have a love/hate relationship with his Catholic upbringing evidenced in songs like “Vampires, Mummies and the Holy Ghost,” “Altered Boy,” and “Bank of Bad Habits” (where he names the 7 deadly sins). He frequently muses about the ways God created, and the ways God may or may not be directly involved in the events of this world.

From “Fruitcakes”: “perhaps the cosmic baker took us out of the oven too early” and “there’s a thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning” (a favorite of mine); from “Don’t Chu-Know”: “we’re just recycled history machines, cavemen in faded blue jeans, it’s the unanswered question each one of us”; from “Schoolboy Heart”: “I suspect, I died in some cosmic shipwreck, with all hands spread all over the deck. Then some kind, of unseen and unscrupulous mind, began to pick up what he could find, added ice, shook me twice, rolled the dice”; from “Piece of Work”: “Well, the Lord made me on a long thin limb, made sure I’d remember Him, or Her in the middle of a long dark night, creation crazy, death sheet white.”

In the midst of all of his questions, some that I share as well, comes this song, “Happily Ever After,” which reminds us that we have a choice of looking positively or negatively at life. (“I’ve been in vans and in bands, on and through stages, one thing I can conclude, one has to learn havin’ fun is just smilin’ through those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes.”) I also enjoy the idea of referring to a song he wrote 20 years earlier and what he has learned since then. This song shares a wish, actually more of a prayer: “some people never find it, some only pretend, but I just want to live happily ever after, every now and then.”

3. Delaney Talks to Statues
Unless you are a true Parrothead, you probably don’t know about the novels Jimmy has written (one of only eight authors in history to have reached No. 1 on both the fiction and non-fiction New York Times Bestseller lists), and even a children’s story or two. He has performed various songs about children including Chanson Pour Petits Enfants (a “song for the children, a song for the world”) and Jolly Mon Sing (he wrote the picture book version for his daughter). I have occasionally referred to my own daughter as “Little Miss Magic” and that song is very dear to my heart (“Your mother is the only other woman for me, Little Miss Magic what you gonna be?”). Now that my daughter is grown, dwelling on either of these songs can make me quite emotional, but today, “Delaney Talks to Statues” is my choice: a joy-filled tune that captures the loving relationship between a father and his pre-school aged daughter. “We chase the dogs and hop like frogs, then I do my bad handstand. She’s growing up too fast for me, and asking lots of questions. Some I know the answers to and some I’m looking for suggestions. Fathers, daughters, born by the water. Shells sink, dreams float, life’s good on our boat.”

2. Love in the Library
Another theme from Jimmy’s songs is relationships. Many are humorous (“Frank and Lola, on their second honeymoon in Pensacola”), but he does have what some would refer to as love songs, with very heartfelt verse as is evident by these words from “Lone Palm”: “Love is a wave building to a crescendo. Ride if you will, ride it with me.” Another love song I enjoy is: “I Wish Lunch Could Last Forever”: “Make the whole day a first time love affair. We’ll begin with a kiss, such a warm place to start, let me into your life, let me into your heart.”

As you would expect, someone who loves to tell stories also loves literature (referring to it as his “fiction addiction”). In most of Jimmy’s music, it seems the song is simply the best way to tell a story, and in the case of “Love in the Library,” it is a love story. In his vast collection of songs famous (and not so famous) authors or their stories appear frequently, including the likes of Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Pat Conroy, John MacDonald, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Louis L’Amour, Steven King, Agatha Christie and Antoine de Saint Exupery. How many songs do you know that mention the French author, Flaubert? Well, this one does. This is a dreamy song about a romantic rendezvous in a small, gulf coast town library on a hot summer afternoon where “no words were spoken but so much was said.” The line that describes the location in the library when he first sees her is my favorite: “Near civil war history, my heart skipped a beat. She was standing in fiction stretched high on bare feet.” I am sure this selection is heavily influence by the fact that I met my wife in a library . . . yes, even libraries can be romantic. “Surrounded by stories surreal and sublime, I fell in love in the library once upon a time.”

If my list was longer, I would include other themes: Food—“I Will Play for Gumbo”; Drink—“Champagne Sí, Agua No“; Live Music—“Bob Roberts Society Band”; Childhood—“Life is Just a Tire Swing”; Christmas—“Christmas Island”; Fathers—“The Captain and the Kid. But I guess it’s time to head in.


1. One Particular Harbor
So many of Jimmy’s songs are set close to salt water and all that is associated with it: islands, boats/ sailing (earlier category), sea creatures (jellyfish, crab, shark, barracuda, remoras, barnacles), hurricanes, coconuts, limes, reefs, mangoes, frangipani, palm trees . . . . I won’t even try to list them all. To say that water is one category is quite a stretch, but some do come to mind: “Stars on the Water,” “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season,” “Island,” “Back to the Island,” and “Surfin’ in a Hurricane.”

But it’s time to close with my favorite. This is definitely a concert song best heard live, and now makes just about every concert set list. The song begins with enchanting Tahitian words about creation: “A ORA TE NATURA E MEA AROFA TEIE AO NEI,” which loosely translated means “nature (God) lives / have pity on the earth / love the earth.”

Mike said earlier on his blog post of his top ten Allman Brothers list that started this whole thing, “Often, my favorite Christian music isn’t ‘Christian music.’” I also have my favorite non-Christian, “Christian” songs, and this one tops the list, particularly the way it seems to welcome a vision of the kingdom in its fullness and a glimpse of the new heaven and the new earth. To me, one of the joys of my relationship with God is finding him in all of the unexpected places. God is as much at work in the rest of the world as he is in me, and is at work in those who claim him and in those who don’t.

Maybe it’s a contrarian view, but I see spiritual urges throughout this top ten song list: honesty about life and what it means to be human; questions of pleasure, over indulgence, and responsibility; an appreciation and respect for nature and the created world; the joy and challenges of living life in community; celebrating differences in people and respecting different ideas; the bonds of love found in family and friends; the heartaches of life revealed in loss and an unawareness of grace; thoughts of beauty and love traced ultimately back to God. “One Particular Harbor” is a song that reveals hope and salvation, a place of peace we all long to be forever. When the joyful pans crescendo and then Nadira Shakoor’s high soprano descant soars triumphantly over it all, it’s as if the angels decided to join in.

Actually, Mike knows he can play this one at my funeral: “There’s just one particular harbor, so far and yet so near, where the children play on the shore each day and all is safe within.” If that’s not a song about heaven, I don’t know what is.

So my friends, I hope you have enjoyed my look at “the other Jimmy.” It’s been a lovely cruise…

37 Responses leave one →
  1. Erin permalink
    April 19, 2011

    Fins up, for sure. Great list. I’d have to have a couple fan favorites on my list, like “Volcano” and “Changes in Latitudes,” but I love that this list goes beneath the surface. Thanks, Caribbean Soul.

  2. Strange Bird permalink
    April 19, 2011

    Sweet! Nice work.

  3. April 19, 2011

    What a terrific list! Thanks Mike and Caribbean Soul! The first song that popped into my head after reading the list, though, is one of my favorites that isn’t on it: Death of an Unpopular Poet.

  4. Corey permalink
    April 19, 2011

    What a fantastic list. I don’t know how you could narrow it down to 10, but theming the list was brilliant. I’m partial to the underrated “Fruitcakes” album (I listened to “Frenchman for the Night” and “Quietly Making Noise” as I descended into Paris), and am happy to see it well represented. “Songs You Know By Heart” gets overdone, but the songs are good when mixed in with “Tampico Trauma”, “Barefoot Children”, “Life is Just a Tire Swing” or “Havana Daydreamin” (which may be my favorite).

    Great job and I hope Anita Bryant never, ever does one of your blogs.

  5. Rob permalink
    April 19, 2011

    Have to say as a 30+ concert Parrothead, this is really, really strong. The real Jimmy!

  6. annie permalink
    April 19, 2011

    Thanks, Caribbean Soul.

  7. Remittance Man permalink
    April 20, 2011

    A Buffett list (that is actually informed!) on a site with the word “preacher” in it.

    Please tell me where you preach. I’ll be there.

  8. Laura Oldenburg permalink
    April 20, 2011

    Mike
    Love the Jimmy Buffet although I really go back to the early 60’s and Peter Paul and Mary. They spoke to my feelings of anti-war, civil rights. Along with Joan Baez. Too old and too mild I guess for today. But their harmony and pure voices not drowned out by lots of metal spoke to the history of Celtic music lying just underneath the sounds. But I still love the Buffet whiskey voice and poking fun at establishment sounds.

  9. Greg permalink
    April 21, 2011

    Caribbean Soul,
    I would have to add something from A1A to this list; how can you resist “I’ve got a Caribbean soul I can barely control, and some Texas hidden here in my heart!”

  10. charlie s. permalink
    April 21, 2011

    Great list, but no Buffett list is complete without the following:
    “A Pirate Looks At 40”: For everyone who is getting the chance to get old. “… Made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away too fast. Never meant to last. Never meant to last.” Great lesson, and so true.
    “Little Miss Magic”. For all of us with daughters or granddaughters. “Constantly amazed by the blades of the fan on the ceiling. Those little looks she gives me, just can’t help but be appealing.” I choke up everytime I hear it.
    “Encommunicado” (probably mispelled; sorry!) Maybe my favorite, since it starts with “Travis McGee’s still in Cedar Key; That’s what John McDonald said…”, since I grew up reading those books which were all set in South Florida. The song is actually a tribute to John Wayne and apparently was written right after JB learned he had died. (“I think of “Red River”, and “Liberty Vallance, can’t believe the old man’s gone) “… that a life with such bravado is taking the long way home.” Another great lesson.
    And finally, “Margaritaville”. Not so much that it celebrates a drink, but more for the fact that, if you listen to the changes that happen progressively through the chorus, you see that while he starts out blaming a woman for whatever the problem is, he eventually comes to the realization that it is nobody’s fault but his. Once again, another great lesson. A variation of the great saying “In vino, veritas.”

  11. bebly permalink
    April 22, 2011

    ‘Remittance Man’ and ‘Mental Floss’ have been the source of two sermons I preached. RM is awesome because (as I discovered in research) there were quite a few RMs back in the day – sons of rich people who didn’t want to be embarrassed by their non-conformist kids and paid them to get lost. But the best line is “absolution without accountability.” Sounds like “cheap grace.”

    Mental Floss’ Jellyfish envy, “Life without a brain.” people who like to drift along with their culture and the pressures of conformity … not having to bother thinking critically – yikes. Like Zappa’s “Po’Jama People,” or Jesus’ “sheep w/o a shepherd.”

    love the buffet stuff, thanks

  12. Patrick Odum permalink
    April 22, 2011

    Great, great list. Without necessarily dropping any of yours off, though, I’d have to include “He Went to Paris.” I’ve heard it 200 times if I’ve heard it once, and it still makes me tear up. What do you do when your “body is battered, [your] whole world is shattered?” No words to answer that question.

    I’m glad someone else uses Buffett songs in sermons, too. If grace doesn’t make us “gypsies in the palace”, what are we?

  13. Patrick Odum permalink
    April 22, 2011

    Mike – How ’bout a Springsteen list?

  14. Happy permalink
    April 23, 2011

    Someone likes Jimmy reads like a dissertation.

  15. Patrick Hare permalink
    April 23, 2011

    He does a great cover of Bruce Cockburn’s “Pacing the Cage” as well . . . I asked Bruce about it one time, expecting to hear a great story about them meeting up in a rum bar in Nicaragua somewhere, swapping stories and reflecting on the musical life, but nope, Bruce had never met him, although he was flattered that Jimmy had covered a couple of his tunes.

  16. mike mchugh permalink
    August 20, 2011

    The top 10 has to include California Promises

  17. Dave StOnge permalink
    February 9, 2012

    Super list and commentary, Carribean Soul! I think for me, two of his more lesser known tunes stand out…”Survive” and “When the Coast is Clear”. Every fall, when the snow is on its way up here in Ontario I think of ‘Coast is clear'(…although its now Feb. 9th and the snow hasn’t really stuck around yet this year. I see nothing but grass!…Global warming?!) Anyhow, like all good things, the summer has to come to an end…at least in the north…and Jimmy definitely captured the feeling! Thanks JB, Fins Up!
    (Oh, and by the way, we’ve decided to name our house “One Particular Harbour”. We’re in the Portsmouth Village neighbourhood of Kingston – home of the 1976 sailing Olympics. It fits!)

  18. Tim permalink
    February 23, 2012

    I will have to listen to some of these more obscure Jimmy Buffet songs as I really just know the more popular hits. Boat Drinks is pretty light, but would have to be my favorite, especially because I’m a big hockey nut!

  19. March 8, 2012

    For me, Coast of Marseille is one of the best. Also He Went to Paris, I Heard I Was In Town, Stars Fell on Alabama…and lots more!

  20. Michael permalink
    May 7, 2012

    I would also have to add “Son of a Son of a Sailor” and, one of my all-time favorite feel good songs “Coconut Telegraph.” Jimmy is often so simple and that’s what makes the music so fun to listen to.

  21. Chris permalink
    May 19, 2013

    Oh man. I know a top 10 was hard but… Nautical wheelers, trying to reason with hurricane season, nobody speaks to the captain no more, wonder why we ever go home. You might have to go back and listen to some early albums.

  22. Betty Beem permalink
    July 18, 2013

    Thanks so much for your insights. First saw Jimmy in the 60’s when he played at the Flick next to UM in Miami. Saw him multiple times there. In those days he rode the greyhound up from Key West. Always accompanied by Miss Kitty Litter and Miss Kay Pasa. I knew the Key West land lady who had to evict him because he didn’t have the money. We also saw him at the Barn in Coconut Grove. I spent many magical times staying in the third floor apartment of friend in Key West. On Caroline Street down from the post office. Those days…Great memories.. barefoot children.

  23. Zack permalink
    December 3, 2013

    Dude, you really are true Buffett fan. It’s not often you run into someone that appreciates Jimmy’s songwriting/storytelling qualities for what they’re worth. Quite frankly a Hemingway quality storyteller. This list is so spot on in so many ways. I dig the credit you threw Banana Wind and Fruitcakes. I’d mix in Six String Music and African Friend around that top 10 too. My favorite pick though is Biloxi. I subliminally moved to New Orleans because I grew up listening to that song. Good shit man. Oh and maybe He Went to Paris…Jimmy can’t be put in 10 songs

  24. March 23, 2014

    Interesting list and worthy songs all, although I might take exception to the inclusion of the done to death “Brown Eyed Girl”. No question it’s a great song, as evidenced by the fact that every working band in America has to know how to play it – and JB does a great rendition of it. I think it’s the over-exposure the song has received as a result of hearing it in every bar with a live band or solo performer on stage and on every oldies station on the FM dial for the last 40 years, though, that would keep it off my list. I love it, but I’m sick to death of hearing it.

    Other than that minor difference of opinion, though, I like your list and enjoyed reading your comments.

  25. July 17, 2014

    Very nice list done about a fellow Mississippi beach bum. I think I would have to add False Echos to the list though. I would also have to add Breathe in, breathe out, and move on as number one. I went through Katrina and that song holds true. Also you mentioned Little Miss Magic and I too refer to my daughter as that.

  26. October 4, 2014

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  27. October 9, 2014

    Hi all, here every one is sharing such knowledge,
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  28. October 10, 2014

    I like what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work and exposure!
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  29. Mandy H. permalink
    October 20, 2014

    Great list… I would’ve liked to see He Went to Paris though.

  30. Jeff permalink
    November 3, 2014

    Solid list by a true Buffett fan.
    Floridays & Take Another Road come to my mind.

  31. Pete permalink
    April 28, 2015

    Very cool way to look at it! Enjoyed it very much….likely thinking about it for some time to come as well…;-)

  32. Myles permalink
    July 21, 2015

    Three of these songs are covers. It says Buffett songs. And of the three covers you picked Brown Eyed Girl as one of them? That’s LAME!

  33. Mermaid permalink
    September 3, 2015

    changing channels,
    Survive
    Pre you

  34. Hannah Jones permalink
    August 15, 2016

    I am the granddaughter of the man that “Remittance Man” was written about and inspired by. Howard Paul, his name is in the Barometer Soup dedication section.

    My grandfather was cast out by his extremely wealthy family of British immigrants he was adopted by. He was adopted to replace a child who had died, they stripped him of his birth name at age 7. He was always the Blacksheep and it only got worse.

    He was gay. In the 1940’sense. He brought shame to his wealthy family and the money he received annually was from the large Trust from the family.
    He ran away to Key West to escape his demons in the Upper Panhandle of Michigan.

    He was an alcoholic who haunted every pub in Key West, telling grand stories of the rich life he threw away and exaggerate his life. He got Jimmy Buffet his first few gigs in local bars.

    When my grandfather died, Jimmy Buffet sent my mother a handwritten letter of condolences. My mom was born from his last attempt to please his family and be “normal”.

    It means the world to me that people appreciate this song so much, I feel my grandfather every time I hear it.

    -Hannah Jones

  35. Lee Truman permalink
    December 13, 2016

    Enjoyed the almost revere ntial listing of why Jimmys song are so much more than party hardy faire…his irreverent wit was what attracted me to learning his songs from a songbook prior to entering treatment in the summer of 84. Found out later he himself was entering or had recently did aspin dr..making the thought of abstinence slightly more tolerable. That and they allowed me to bring my guitar and occupy time learning many of his lesser (but more) songs that gave me reason to keep livin. Needless to say…my life which seemed to have succumbed to the mantra of live fast..die young and leave in a good looking corpse was being realized faster than that romantic James Dean philosophy was the last house …..to live a gray existence in a Mellancamp estate pink house. On some dead end to fun as I once knew it. Happy to say @ 67 I was lucky enough to revive a life sober and cruise nearly every Carribean isle that cruise ships visit as well as Cozumel to Mazatlan in Mexico. Allwith nary a tequila worm and Margaritaville..a tune that is so pervasive it played nonsop in my now revived brain nonstoppng with the greeting…wut’s happening, Mon? The Jamaican hi! I have his songs pop up in the same frame like Coast of Marseille and immediatelysearch outchords anx lyrics til I have nailed it to some degree. One I cant find is the song with the verse about they don’t dance like Carmen no more” it doesn’t google and chordie doesn’t have it. Please let me know its correct title so I can flesh it out of my pristine brain works…it must be lying in the dust of the exploded Gray matter…anyway great read good picks for the most part but have issues with brown eyed girls but Biloxi is bang on as is the Pirate song I learned and played with an. Alaskan State Patrol officer/inmate at Nurse Ratche’s house for spin dry and Cuckoo Nest Rehab facility, where even coffee was linked to the Highway to Hell. Bing Crosby once sobered up at this place..Thanks for reminding me of the adventure that life can be…if you arent holding down a barstool. Lee

  36. April 29, 2017

    This design is spectacular! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

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