On Friday, the country band — comprising Mike Eli, James Young, Jon Jones and Chris Thompson — dropped the “Fins Up” version of “Saltwater Gospel,” featuring a verse from Buffett himself.
“To have Jimmy Buffett now sing on it was just surreal,” Young tells PEOPLE exclusively. “The ocean has always been his muse and for him to grace us on this project has been amazing. When I heard him tag ‘A Pirate Looks at 40’ at the end, it raised the hairs on my arm. “
Buffett, 73, loved the song since it first came out — and when asked to join the track, he agreed without hesitation.
“When (producer and collaborator) Mac McAnally called me a few weeks ago and said there was an idea for me to sing with the Eli Young Band, I said yes immediately,” Buffett said. “I love the band. I love the fact that they have great roots in Denton, Texas and [University of North Texas] and I can’t wait to get on the road one day and play it with them.”
“What a humble, down-to-earth and kind guy!” Young said. “Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be sitting in my living room chatting it up with Jimmy Buffett. I was a little nervous to be honest, because we are all big fans.”