Jimmy Buffett – A Good Life All the Way – Review

A candid, compelling, and rollicking portrait of the pirate captain of Margaritaville—Jimmy Buffett.

In Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way, acclaimed music critic Ryan White has crafted the first definitive account of Buffett’s rise from singing songs for beer to his emergence as a tropical icon and CEO behind the Margaritaville industrial complex, a vast network of merchandise, chain restaurants, resorts, and lifestyle products all inspired by his sunny but disillusioned hit “Margaritaville.”

Jimmy BuffettFilled with interviews from friends, musicians, Coral Reefer Band members past and present, and business partners who were there, this book is a top-down joyride with plenty of side trips and meanderings from Mobile and Pascagoula to New Orleans, Key West, down into the islands aboard the Euphoria and the Euphoria II, and into the studios and onto the stages where the foundation of Buffett’s reputation was laid.

Buffett wasn’t always the pied piper of beaches, bars, and laid-back living. Born on the Gulf Coast, the son of a son of a sailing ship captain, Buffett scuffed around New Orleans in the late sixties, flunked out of Nashville (and a marriage) in 1971, and found refuge among the artists, dopers, shrimpers, and genuine characters who’d collected at the end of the road in Key West. And it was there, in those waning outlaw days at the last American exit, where Buffett, like Hemingway before him, found his voice and eventually brought to life the song that would launch Parrot Head nation.

And just where is Margaritaville? It’s wherever it’s five o’clock; it’s wherever there’s a breeze and salt in the air; and it’s wherever Buffett sets his bare feet, smiles, and sings his songs.

Editorial Reviews

“A buoyant new Jimmy Buffett biography sings. . . . [White interviewed] dozens of Buffett’s fellow Key West, Florida, barflies, record producers, bandmates, friends, and business associates, and the portrait that emerges is affectionate and admiring but devoid of Parrot Head fawning—the proper key for such a bio. It helps that White’s prose bears a music of its own, vividly evoking Buffett’s formative journey from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans, to Nashville, and then to Key West.” —GARDEN & GUN

“A gifted storyteller with a beat reporter’s nose for hidden details, Ryan White has crafted a definitive portrait of one of America’s most potent cultural icons. And yet this is so much more than an account of sandy-footed slacker king Jimmy Buffett. It’s also a peek into the yearning heart of overworked Americans searching for their own shaker of salt and helping drive the fantasy that turned Buffett’s tequila-stunned 1977 smash ‘Margaritaville’ into the keystone of a multi-billion dollar leisure industry.” –Peter Ames Carlin, New York Times bestselling author of Bruce 

“Finally—a full-length Jimmy Buffett bio that’s accurate and entertaining. Ryan White captures a life of creativity, of strumming songs, taking care of business, and of owning the stage while dancing to the bank. Great writing makes for great reading, and this book outshines all earlier looks at Buffett’s career and lifestyle. White has interviewed dozens of the man’s colleagues, influences and guides, and asked all the right questions. Now we get to enjoy new insights and correct info right down to the sunburn. Thank goodness for Ryan White. He delivers a fine tale and, like Buffett, super entertainment.”

– Tom Corcoran, author of Crime Almost Pays and The Quick Adios (Times Six).

“White unravels the tale of America’s favorite pirate with journalistic vigor and an ear for the poetic detail. It turns out that Jimmy Buffett’s real story is an interesting and wild as the countless myths and legends that have grown around him.” -Hayes Carll, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter

“Ryan White has written a highly entertaining and very informative book about Jimmy Buffett; one that manages to go well beyond the mythology and legends while still giving them their just place in the grand design. An excellent read.”
– Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers