Jimmy Buffett

Living and Dying in 3/4 Time

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With his second album, 1973's A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, Jimmy Buffett broke into the country LPs chart, courtesy of a minor hit single, "The Great Filing Station Holdup." That would seem to mark him as a promising up-and-coming country artist, with his third album, Living and Dying in ¾ Time, the next step. But Buffett exhibits an ambivalent attitude toward his career and the music business in general in the LP's songs, most of which he wrote. In fact, the best of them is "Come Monday," a melancholy ballad about being on the road and missing a loved one. "I spent four lonely days/In a brown L.A. haze/And I just want you back by my side," he sings plaintively. That theme has been explored so much by songwriters that it's hard to find a new way to go at it, and Buffett's success is indicative of his writing talent. He devotes that talent largely to talking about how much he dislikes Nashville, notably in such songs as "Brand New Country Star" (co-written by Vernon Arnold) and "Saxophones." In the former, he castigates a product of Nashville equally capable of going country or pop (which is odd, since he himself is hardly a traditional country musician), while in the latter he complains that he can't get radio play in his hometown of Mobile, AL. It may be that Buffett is determined to make it only on his own terms, and that those terms are more those of Texas singer/songwriters like Jerry Jeff Walker and Willis Alan Ramsey (whose "Ballad of Spider John" he covers here), or Gulf Coast blues artists like those he praises in "Saxophones," than of conventional country musicians. That's fair enough, but it makes it hard to complain that you're facing resistance.

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