Click here to read the article and to see the list.Things you realize while ranking (almost) every song Jimmy Buffett has recorded:
Buffett has written songs with really cool people. Some of his favorite co-writers, of course, have been bandmates Mac McAnally, Will Kimbrough, Michael “Mr.” Utley, and Will Jennings as well as the late Steve Goodman ("City of New Orleans," "You Never Even Called Me By My Name"). You’ll also find co-writing credits for Glenn Frey, Bill Withers, and the princess herself, Carrie Fisher.
His evolution from folk to Gulf-and-western to a more heavily island sound makes it difficult to rank the catalog because your mood really affects how you perceive the comparisons. If I did this exercise again some of the songs (mostly outside the top 100) might be much higher or lower.
For average quality of songs, I’d rank his decades: 1. 1970s; 2. 2000s; 3. 1990s; 4. 1980s.
Before we get started, just know that we will disagree. Which is fine with me. My rankings are not a music snob’s list about good and bad music (although both are well-represented). But beyond the vocal melodies and chord progressions, there is an awful lot of humor and storytelling going on in Buffett’s work. Nearly all of it seems to fit into Buffett’s musical journey as he leads his legions toward their metaphorical Margaritaville.
Here is one thing I consciously decided and one thing I couldn’t help:
Originals were given more consideration than covers, generally. Some covers, however, fit Buffett’s catalog so well there was little difference while others might rank noticeably low. For example, Stephen Stills’ “Southern Cross” is simply more 'Buffett' than Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings,” even though they’re both wonderful songs that Bubba does well.
I’m somewhat biased toward the more country-sounding music. Remember that Miami parrothead at the beginning of the 1985 concert film “By the Bay” who complains that Buffett has been “up there with those rednecks”? That guy probably wouldn’t like my rankings.
What's not on the list
That leaves 307 sandy, salty, and seaworthy songs. Let’s count ‘em down:
- ● Songs that did not appear on a studio album and were not released as singles.
● Cuts from movie soundtracks such as “Rancho Deluxe” and “Hoot” and the musical soundtrack from “Don’t Stop the Carnival” that were not released as singles. Most of these were not intended to stand on their own, and it felt awkward to rank them against full-length pieces.
● “Abandoned on Tuesday” and “Don’t Bring Me Candy” and any other pre-“Down to Earth” recordings that never made it to an album. I’ve never heard them, and you probably haven’t either.
● Songs appearing only on live albums.
● Other peoples' songs on which Buffett appears, such as Alan Jackson's "5 O'Clock Somewhere" and Zac Brown Band's "Knee Deep".
Ohh.... just as a sort-of **spoiler alert** .... #1 (and four others in the Top Ten) can be found on the 'yellow album'.