With his new album, Jimmy Buffett once again takes Parrot Heads back to Margaritaville. Although this tropical paradise has more or less remained the same since their last visit, members of the PHaithful PHlock may notice that there has been a steep increase in the cowboy population on the island and that even Jimmy himself is donning a ten-gallon hat. Long before he struck gold in Nashville collaborating with Alan Jackson on “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere,” Buffett planned to attempt a country album with his signature island twist. He headed into the recording studio last December and emerged with “License To Chill.”
Although the music has a slightly different flavor, Parrot Heads will notice the style is oddly familiar. Instead of the usual soft island rock with a distant country background, his latest effort has a driving country sound with the island rock in the passenger’s seat. To amplify the country feel, Buffett recruited an all-star team of country music superstars (Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, George Strait and others) to sing on the record. This decision results in an album readily welcomed by country music stations across the nation.
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Not only were radio stations eager to obtain their “License” but so were fans. Stores could not keep copies on their shelves, and it’s no mystery why. “License To Chill” is arguably Buffett’s magnum opus. With his new sound and help from country’s finest, Buffett has created the rare CD you will listen to without wanting to skip a song. The first single, a cover of Hank Williams’s hit “Hey Good Lookin’,” will surely have listeners singing along. As with all his cover songs, Buffett doesn’t change a single chord, yet he still manages to make the song his own. After hearing Buffett’s version of this classic, the listener will realize why Buffett has his cult following.
The album’s title track featuring Kenny Chesney is another standout. “License To Chill” has a bouncy country beat to accompany the lyrics that perfectly summarize the Parrot Head way of life: “I just want to disappear/Wishin’ I was somewhere other than here/ Livin’ for the weekend/Jumpin’ off the deep end/With just enough money to buy a license to chill.” Play this song and you’re guaranteed to spark an impromptu party!
Buffett’s music is not just about partying, though. “Trip Around The Sun,” his duet with Martina McBride, is one of many gorgeous ballads. In it, they croon, “No you never see it comin’/Always wind up wonderin’ where it went/Only time will tell if it was time well spent.” These words perfectly capture a recurring theme in his music: How should you spend your time on Earth?
In my opinion, you should listen to Buffett’s newest release and experience the general feeling of euphoria often associated with his music. This new release will quickly become a favorite.
“License” will forever hold a special place in Buffett’s heart as well. Although he is a man who seems to have everything, one treasure evaded this pirate over the course of his 34-year career. Remarkably, Jimmy Buffett never had a number-one record – until now.