Jimmy Buffett

Son of a Son of a Sailor

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After his debut with 1970's Down to Earth, Jimmy Buffett released an album a year from 1973 to 1977, culminating with his commercial and artistic breakthrough, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, which apotheosized his beach-bum persona in its hit single "Margaritaville." A year later, he's back with his seventh album, Son of a Son of a Sailor, but things have changed. Now, Buffett has a high-profile manager in Irving Azoff (who is dressed like Napoleon in the high-fashion photo spread across the gatefold of the LP), and as his smiling, well-upholstered image on the cover shows, he's not a beach bum anymore; now he looks like the happy owner of a yacht. Accordingly, he isn't writing songs like "Margaritaville" anymore, either. The closest approximation to that is "Cheeseburger in Paradise," which might as well be a commercial jingle for a fast-food chain. The locus of the songs still tends to be in the Caribbean, the characters still lowlifes, but the personal touch is missing. Buffett is writing fiction now, and the edge is off. Having achieved the perfect expression of his world-view the last time around, and profited handsomely as a result, he is now no longer funny in a self-deprecating way that makes his songs touching. He was never one to take himself too seriously, but now he's veering toward self-parody.

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