Book Review: Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., July 21, 2017
Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Wayby Ryan White
Touchstone, 354 pp., $26.99
No one's told the tale of Jimmy Buffett more compellingly than the songwriter himself in 1998 autobiography A Pirate Looks at Fifty. King Parrothead at 70 is an entirely different enterprise. Ryan White's biography focuses on Buffett as a business, and how the wanderlusting entertainer created one of the most lucrative brands in all of music. The irony of a multibillion-dollar empire built upon the notion of slacking off isn't lost on the author, who notes, "The magic was making the world believe Buffett was barely in control" when in reality he's obsessively detail-oriented and indefatigable by nature. Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way follows the best anecdotes, all thoroughly fact-checked and contextualized. Buffett's early-Seventies rise out of Alabama through Texas, Tennessee, and eventually Florida didn't even fit among fringe genres initially, but by 2003, the King of Trop Pop transcended even mainstream culture. Although White never interviews his notoriously press-shy subject, he makes use of Buffett's copious show banter from bootlegs, and gathers a spectrum of color from the singer's associates. Likewise, he keenly explores the effects of selling the Key West lifestyle into global capitalism all from a wistful tune penned on a lazy sunny day in Austin.