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.