In one episode of the Seinfeld TV show, George Costanza famously quipped "I don't get art." In a similar fashion, I have heard people comment that they just don't get the whole "Jimmy Buffett" thing. His songs are silly and his voice isn't even very good, they say. To those folks it is difficult to describe the appeal of the unique, eclectic musical style that is Jimmy Buffett. To his legions of avid fans the appeal is obvious. His songs speak of escape and romance, of sailing the seas and relaxing under palm trees. His often humorous tales involve rum or cold beer on tropical beaches describing all sorts of fun escapades and adventures. What's not to love? To some of us, there are few greater pleasures in life than sipping a frozen concoction at a sunny beach bar while a classic Jimmy Buffett tune plays in the background. It is an experience that is far greater than the simple sum of its parts. It is impossible not to smile as you deeply appreciate the moment to its fullest. Many a Jimmy Buffett fan has spent thousands of dollars in airfare and hotel fees (and rum) to enjoy that feeling. I sometimes wonder if it would be possible to calculate the economic impact that Jimmy Buffett has had on the Caribbean region?
Imitation Is The Highest Form of Flattery
Over the years many a singer/songwriter has tried to emulate the style of Jimmy Buffett's songs. Thousands of guys with guitars playing in bars all over the world have covered his songs, some better than others, and even tried their hand at penning their own version. It's a tough style to get just right. You need a little reggae, a little Caribbean influence, some country western for sure. But in the end, you still need to capture the clever turn of a phrase that seems to come so naturally to Jimmy. For decades it seems that Jimmy Buffett alone was up to the task. I started to worry that someday his musical style might die with him. The good news is that a number of younger artists have taken up the torch and produced what I feel is some legitimate Jimmy Buffett style tunes. Below is my humble personal list of "successful imitation." If you enjoy the music of Jimmy Buffett, you might want to give these artists a listen.
- Kenny Chesney (Many songs but espescially the entire CD entitled "Be As You Are")
- The Zac Brown Band
- Jerry Jeff Walker
- James White
What do you think? Can you add any more to the list? If so, please include them in the comments below.