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Ten Best Jimmy Buffett Duets

January 10th, 2013

This is a guest post by Jon O’Brien of ConcertTour.org:

Singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett has been entertaining ‘Parrotheads’ for the better part of four decades with his unique ‘gulf and western’ sound. Alongside the plethora of hits recorded with his long-time backing group, The Coral Reefer Band, the country veteran has produced some of his best work when collaborating with other artists. Here’s a look at 10 of his best duets.

It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere – with Alan Jackson

One of the biggest hits of Buffett’s career, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” spent an incredible eight weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Charts, saw him reach the Top 40 for the first time since the 70s, and helped him secure the Vocal Event of the Year at the Country Music Awards. Taken from Alan Jackson’s 2003 Greatest Hits Vol II collection, this steel-laden mid-tempo number, based on the simple justification of drinking in the daytime, deservedly introduced his music to a younger generation.

Knee Deep – with Zac Brown Band

Written as an attempt to piggy back off the beachside vibe that has become synonymous with Buffett, the third single from Zac Brown Band’s 2011 album, You Get What You Give, was made even more authentic when the man who inspired it also agreed to appear on it. A charming and carefree mandolin-led ditty, “Knee Deep” went on to become Buffett’s first country chart-topper in eight years.

Trip Around The Sun – with Martina McBride

Written by Al Anderson, Steve Bruton and Sharon Vaughn, “Trip Around The Sun” was one of the highlights of Buffett’s chart-topping 2004 duets album, License To Chill. Featuring an emotive turn from Martina McBride, the melancholic ballad offers an alternative Happy Birthday message with its unique reflection on growing older.

All Night Long – with Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie had previously scored a hit Down Under with a rather pedestrian dance remix of his 1983 soul classic “All Night Long” alongside Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian just a year earlier. But ramping up its Caribbean influence with a healthy dose of steel drums and tropical percussion (courtesy of The Coral Reefer Band), this Buffett-assisted standout from his 2012 country album, Tuskegee, was by far the more imaginative re-interpretation of the Richie classic.

Hey Good Lookin’ – with Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, George Strait

Backed by a who’s who of country’s biggest male solo artists including none other than Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith and George Strait, this rollicking take on Hank Williams’ 1951 standard is the opening track on Buffett’s License To Chill and proved that Jimmy could more than hold his own amongst the generation of artists who he undoubtedly inspired.

Someone I Used To Love – with Nanci Griffith

Originally recorded by Canadian folk-rock troubadour Bruce Cockburn for his 1994 album, Dart To The Heart, “Someone I Used To Love” is a beautifully heartfelt ballad which intertwines the tenderness of Buffett and folk flavor of Nanci Griffith’s vocals with finger-picking acoustics and appropriately melancholic fiddle riffs.

Gulf Coast Highway – with Evangeline

Signed to Buffett’s MCA Records offshoot, Margaritaville Records, Lousiana six-piece Evangaline managed to rope their boss into executive producing their 1992 self-titled debut album as well as appearing on this largely forgotten but under-rated cover of Nanci Griffith’s “Gulf Coast Highway.”

Caribbean Amphibian – with Kermit The Frog

One of the oddities of Buffett’s extensive back catalog, this unlikely duet with everyone’s favorite frog puppet, is a joy from start to finish. Initially recorded in 1986, Kermit’s ode to a long-lost cousin was then revived for Elmopalooza, the 1998 musical extravaganza produced for Sesame Street’s 30th anniversary, but with the welcome addition of Buffett’s equally playful tones.

Mack The Knife – with Frank Sinatra

“Mack the Knife” serves up another unlikely pairing, but Buffett has never sounded more suave or sophisticated than on this charming rendition of big-band standard, recorded for the legend that is Frank Sinatra’s final studio album, 1994’s Duets.

Playing The Loser Again – with Bill Withers

One of two tracks penned by Bill Withers for Buffett’s triumphant Licence To Chill album (the other being “Simply Complicated”), the classic soul singer/songwriter decided to get in on the act himself with “Playing The Loser Again,” a rather languid steel-laden ballad which might not make much of an impression on first listen, but slowly reveals in its low-key charms after repeated plays.

Jon O’Brien writes for ConcertTour.org. For the latest Buffett news and upcoming summer tour dates, visit ConcertTour.org.

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