Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way

Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way

Posted by jack_miller | Published a year ago

With 208 ratings

By: Ryan White, Gibson Frazier, et al.

Purchased At: $16.99

In Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way, acclaimed music critic Ryan White has crafted the first definitive account of Buffett's rise from singing songs for beer to his emergence as a tropical icon and CEO behind the Margaritaville industrial complex, a vast network of merchandise, chain restaurants, resorts, and lifestyle products all inspired by his sunny but disillusioned hit "Margaritaville".

Filled with interviews from friends, musicians, Coral Reefer Band members past and present, and business partners who were there, this book is a top-down joyride with plenty of side trips and meanderings from Mobile and Pascagoula to New Orleans, Key West, down into the islands aboard the Euphoria and the Euphoria II, and into the studios and onto the stages where the foundation of Buffett's reputation was laid.

Buffett wasn't always the pied piper of beaches, bars, and laid-back living. Born on the Gulf Coast, the son of a son of a sailing ship captain, Buffett scuffed around New Orleans in the late '60s, flunked out of Nashville (and a marriage) in 1971, and found refuge among the artists, dopers, shrimpers, and genuine characters who'd collected at the end of the road in Key West. And it was there, in those waning outlaw days at the last American exit, where Buffett, like Hemingway before him, found his voice and eventually brought to life the song that would launch Parrot Head nation.

And just where is Margaritaville? It's wherever it's five o'clock; it's wherever there's a breeze and salt in the air; and it's wherever Buffett sets his bare feet, smiles, and sings his songs.

Before I can truly review this book, I need to provide some background. I'm not a Parrothead, although I know Parrotheads. Like many non-followers, I have tagged along with other hardcore Jimmy Buffett fans to several shows over the past decades (Pine Knob, Buckeye Lake, The Palace, etc.) because seeing Jimmy live is, quite simply, a good time with friends. Whether you know the legends or just like the music, the concerts are a fun evening out (or whole day... or weekend). I originally purchased this book for a fan, the type that lives and breaths all things Jimmy. He, after devouring the book, passed it back to me and told me I HAD to read it.

From a non-fan perspective, this book is DEEP. Not deep in the philosophical sense, but deep in the shear amount of details and research that must have gone into the collection of stories and history within its pages. The book starts out with a lovely short chapter on the formation of the band. It reads more like a novel and is beautifully and vividly described. Even though I didn't know all the characters per say, I was able to follow the action. Hard core fans will have no issues following the story of Jimmy's arrival in Key West. The second chapter then jumps back into time to some family history, specifically Grandfather Buffett, the sea captain. While this chapter was a bit more academic and read more like history than novel, it does set the subtle ebb and flow of the book, like waves on the beach, skillfully moving from story telling to history lessons in the Encyclopedia Buffett. The book mostly follows this pattern, jumping from scene to scene, and through various places and times.

As a fan of history, and a good biography, I found the tales and history surrounding Mr. Buffett fascinating and well told. There is so much lore surrounding the legend of Jimmy Buffett, it was really fun to see the origins of the folklore (like any good hero, there is typically some truth to the surrounding myths). Additionally, after reading through all the history I feel quite lazy in comparison. The Buffetts and the extended family of personalities that have come and gone from the Coral Reefer band have (wildly in some cases) accomplished way more than I could ever hope to in my lifetime. The productivity of the collective is amazing, and Jimmy is STILL going, not so much the legend of years past... but still traveling, touring, and transforming into the ultimate master of brand and marketing he is today.

Even though I had to web search for some of the references in the book (note: Parrotheads will likely not have this issue), I still found every chapter well worth the read. This was obviously a labor of love for the author, and I suspect it was a blast to research, collect these tales, and spin the yarns. Peering over at Mr. White's other offering Springsteen: Album by Album , which seems to be quite a different type of book, he does like his musical icons.

- orion_king

I am a Parrothead from way back, from the 70s and saw Jimmy in small clubs from Key West to Seattle to SF, and many more around the U.S. I totally enjoyed two thirds of the book, but once it became more his business, I lost interest, sure he is mega success and deserves it, but it is no longer the Buffett I fondly remember. I loved reading the back story behind each song on each album and as it moved along I realized my interest in his songwriting skills diminished in direct relation to his becoming an industry into itself. I wish I could have stopped after One Particular Harbor. Still glad I could read it but also a bit sad to see where the road to Margaritaville ended up. On his current songwriting, it's just not as interesting coming from someone whose net worth is half a billion dollars, and is more with him having others write for him. Still a fan, but will stick a his earlier albums.

- ronan_myers

I have been a JB Fan, since 1975, way before Parrot Heads. I will admit I had set my expectations a bit too high for this book.
Overall, was good , ( Read it in three days ), but I thought the author just skimmed the surface, nothing very revealing. He tending to "bob and weave" with no clear focus, which at times was confusing. Also, the author's mention of each album and each song on the respective album, I found a bit insulting, I could of wrote the same and better, note that us JB fans of 40+ years know each song backwards and forwards, and we have derived OUR meaning of each.

I am waiting for JB's definitive Biography, written by JB, and only JB...knowing full well he has given us glimpses over the years in his songs.

Mark Woodward, Newnan GA

- clay_long

This book provides a thousand new and entertaining windows into his subject. I wasn't sure the world needed a Buffett bio, but this thing is terrific.

- cody_cox

I don't give 5-star reviews very often. I also haven't read a book that I find myself intentionally or subconsciously reading so slowly because I don't want it to end. I am no about 75% though it and I already know I'm going to have to read it again. So many of Jimmy's songs leave me wondering about their inspiration. I am finding a lot of the answers in this book. The book is about the various environments that made Jimmy who he is. Not every paragraph or page is about Jimmy directly, particularly in the first 100 pages or so, but it all paints the picture of how a boy growing up on the Gulf Coast learned to play a few chords, happen upon the right people, refuse to give up, and create a world in which we Parrotheads wish we could live full time.

This is really meant for the true Parrothead who wants to know more about "the scene" that helped create our hero. A less enthusiastic semi-fan, may find the details somewhat laborious. I'm going to read the last 100 pages slowly, with a smile on my face and live vicariously through these stories.

- averie_patel

I got into JB in Florida in the mid nineties and his music has been on my playlists ever since. I became fascinated by the empire that he has built and this book has filled in many gaps in my knowledge. It’s also inspired me to get out the CDs and listen again to some tracks that I had not copied onto my iTunes library.
I have enjoyed reading this book back in Florida again.

- marley_rodriguez

Very good price! Delivery took some time but it's worth the waiting!

- yahir_lewis

As a long time Parrothead, I was disappointed in this book. The author seemed hell bent on telling a chronological flat story about some of the people who have crossed paths with Buffett. No insider information, juicy tidbits or new information. No understanding of the essence of the Buffett phenomenon. The author doesn't like Parrothheads much.

- lawrence_myers

I enjoyed reading the life of Jimmy. I love his music and his stage presence. He was dedicated to his talent & he made it big time.

- rylie_edwards

An excellent read. All parrotheads will want to have this book in their library.

- julia_castillo

A good read

- hamza_king

A Story worth reading!

- baylee_young

Good read

- emmet_campbell

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