The late Jimmy Buffett leaves us with one last gift, the posthumous release of Equal Strain On All Parts. Guests include Paul McCartney, Emmylou Harris, Angelique Kidjo, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Jimmy Buffett, an immensely talented individual, who was celebrated as a singer-songwriter, performer, entrepreneur, best-selling author, and even the Mayor of Margaritaville, has always been the life of the party. He instructed us all to "keep the party going," and that's precisely what he does with this new album, Equal Strain On All Parts. Co-produced by his longtime Coral Reefers, Michael Utley and Mac McAnally, this 14-song cycle reflects Buffett's characteristic playfulness but also unveils a thoughtful side.
The album was inspired by a unique source: his grandfather's description of a good nap. It is a delightful mix of Buffett's signature wry wit and breezy musicality. It includes songs that are bound to become future Buffett classics, such as "Like My Dog," "My Gummie Just Kicked In," and "Bubbles Up."
"Like My Dog" is a balmy and playfully irreverent ode to man's best friend, complete with the trademark steel drum melodies that have become synonymous with Buffett's music. Dogs played an essential role in Buffett's life, from gracing album covers to appearing in videos and providing unwavering companionship. This song, co-written with Harley Allen, was performed by Scotty Emerick when he opened for Buffett, and it was too irresistible not to record.
The uproarious rocker "My Gummie Just Kicked In" has an amusing backstory. It was born during a memorable dinner party with Buffett, his wife Jane, Paul McCartney, and his wife, Nancy. When Nancy stumbled and was asked if she was okay, she humorously replied, "Oh, no - I'm fine. My gummie just kicked in!" The laughter that followed turned into a promise to write a song about it, and Buffett kept his word. McCartney played bass on the track, and their camaraderie was evident in a Twitter tribute where McCartney shared their fun session and Buffett's new songs.
McCartney also expressed his admiration for "Bubbles Up," praising it as one of the new tracks he loved. He emphasized that Buffett's vocal performance was among the best he'd ever heard, and he marveled at how Buffett turned a diving phrase into a metaphor for navigating life's confusion and finding clarity. The touching "Bubbles Up" was written by Buffett and "honorary Coral Reefer," Will Kimbrough. It serves as a message of hope and inspiration, showcasing the tender side of the album. With lyrics like, "Just know that you are loved, there is light up above, and joy, there's always enough," Buffett delivers a heartfelt message in this track.
The album's connection with Sun Records is serendipitous. The label, renowned as the birthplace of rock and roll and Elvis Presley's launching pad, has always fascinated Buffett. He and Presley both hail from Mississippi, and Buffett even covered Gillian Welch's "Elvis Presley Blues." The choice of Sun Records as the album's home is a perfect fit, a celebration of Buffett's deep connection to rock and roll's roots. Equal Strain On All Parts is more than just the last chapter in his storied career, it's a playful and heartfelt gift to the dedicated residents of Margaritaville.