For any of the past 40 summers, you could find Jimmy Buffett standing on a stage somewhere playing with his Coral Reefer Band.
Of course this year, he's stuck at home, as high and dry as the rest of us.
Correspondent Tracy Smith asked, "You've been talking about taking a summer off for, what, 40 years now?"
"Yeah. This isn't quite what I had in mind, Tracy!" he laughed "But you know, what's that – 'Make lemonade outta lemons'? The interesting thing is, with all of the tragedy and the serious things that are goin' on, I'm having to deal with it and I talked to a lot of the people, you find some silver linings in all this. And that's what we're doing, like, for family and for band."
He's been using some of his time in quarantine doing online concerts, often for first responders.
"You know, historically you think about it, in times like this you still have to have a little fun," Buffett said. "You still have to have a rest from what's going on. And I knew that that was the case, because a lot of healthcare workers and doctors I've known for a long time have used my music in operating rooms and emergency rooms to calm down."
And lately he's been able to share new music: His just-released album, "Life on the Flip Side," is already getting rave reviews, for its good-time anthems, and songs like this:
Well, we could use some quiet
We could use a little calm
Find the good in everybody
Share that "one love" balm
Watch the predators and prey
Swim along side by side
'Neath the blue sky and mangroves
Down at slack tide
– "Slack Tide" by Jimmy Buffett
A slack tide is that moment just before the tide turns, when the water is calm and the world seems to take a beat," Buffett said.
"There's something about the natural process of the world and the universe that allows you the time to kind of take a breath," he said. "And it seems that a lot of people aren't doing that now. … It's not, 'You've got to solve every problem,' or like everything everybody else does, but everybody needs to take a little breath. And that's one of the underlying kind of messages in these songs."
The song was written well before the current political storm, but it seems all the more appropriate now. Buffet performed his song "Slack Tide," for the first time in public, for Tracy Smith and our viewers. "I thought that'd be a good one for 'Sunday Morning'!" he laughed.
Smith said, "This is your first new album in seven years. Now I know what you've been doing part of those past seven years, because I was with you for part of it."
"Yeah, a lot of it!" he said, referring to his 2018 Broadway musical, "Escape to Margaritaville." "It was five years in the making to get to Broadway. It had a successful run. We'd have liked to have been there longer. But the good thing is, it had an audience out in the country. And so, we were on a two-year tour of the show, and it was doing great, when we had to shut down. So, that's what was goin' for about five of those years, when people thought I was just kinda layin' in the hammock? No. I was workin'!"
Seems he's always been working: Buffett has been going nonstop for most of his adult life, since his days as a young street performer in New Orleans' French Quarter.
Back in 2017 Smith asked him, "Do you think there would be a Jimmy Buffett if there wasn't a New Orleans?"
"That's a very interesting question! I don't think there ever would have been. Those years being here really were formative years for me. And it made me a better professional player, so that I thought I could make that leap. This was my training ground for all of that. That's an interesting question 'cause I think, no, it probably would not have happened."
And now, more than 50 years later, he's still in the game, but he does acknowledge that there's a finish line ahead.
Smith asked, "Throughout your career a lot of you songs have also dealt with very serious subjects. You've talked a lot about mortality, and on this album you talk about mortality."
"Do you think about that a lot?"
"You know, there's an end comin' up there," Buffett said. "At 73, you know, I look ahead at people that I know now. We just lost one who was a dear friend and a great inspiration, Carl Reiner, at 98. That's who I look at up there. And then I'll look at the 80-year-olds that are still doin' it. And then I look at the late-70-year-olds that are still doin' it. So, that's who I'm watchin'.
"Working seems to be the magic elixir when you are lucky enough to be an entertainer, or do things that you can still do at that age."
If anything, it seems Jimmy Buffett is getting better with age. There's no telling when his diehard fans – the "Parrotheads" – will hear him sing "Margaritaville" in person again. But Buffett says that as soon as it's safe to go back in the water, he's going to jump in with both feet.
Smith asked, "Do you miss the big crowds?"
"Yes! I miss it a lot. There's really nothing like it. ... There will be an end to this. That, we know. And I plan to be there. And as I tell everybody, that show, whenever it is, and wherever it is, that's gonna be one hell of a show!
"And then," he laughed, "we're just gonna keep goin'!"
You can stream Jimmy Buffett's latest album "Life on the Flip Side" by clicking on the embed below (Free Spotify registration required to hear the tracks in full):
For more info:
- margaritaville.com (Jimmy Buffett's official site)
- Follow Jimmy Buffett on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube
- "Life on the Flip Side" by Jimmy Buffett (Mailboat Records), available on CD (Amazon, Barnes & Noble), Vinyl (Amazon, Barnes & Noble), digital download (Amazon, Google Play, iTunes) and Streaming (Spotify)
Story produced by John D'Amelio. Editor: Ed Givnish.