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.
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.
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
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.
I have enjoyed reading this book back in Florida again.