Stars and Stripes has a great interview with Jimmy Buffett that they conducted backstage at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.
On why he came to play the free shows:
We’ve been doing shows around the world for quite a while and it was kind of a unique situation. My friend Caroline Kennedy, when she became [United States ambassador to Japan], she’s kind of a force of nature, so she got out here and she said, “You need to come while I’m here and do this.” And I’d never been to Japan.
Also, I have a lot of great friends in the Navy. You join the Navy and see the world, you can join this band and see the world — and it’s a great thrill to let people see a show that normally wouldn’t be able to get to one.
We have a lot of fans here, and I didn’t realize that. I thought when we came to Okinawa there’d be a couple hundred people. We had 11,000 people. We opened it up not just to the Navy, we opened it up to the town, too. I think everybody’s appreciative of that.
On his military connections:
I come from a family of sailors. My dad was a flyer in WWII. The rest of them, my grandfather and all my uncles, were in the Navy. At one point I came close to becoming a naval aviator, but then the guitar came along. So I think I kind of maneuvered it with friends that I had, and I was lucky enough to meet some very cool people. In the ‘80s I wound up trading shows for [catapult] shots basically. So I’ve been off the boat in a [F-14 Tomcat] and in an A-4 [Skyhawk].
Two of my best friends and roommates in college were naval aviators. I always stay in touch with them; they live in San Diego now. I’m still a pilot. I fly a Falcon 900LX and a [Cessna] Caravan seaplane. Landing in the East River [New York] is really fun.
On seeing Japan:
This sparked my interest to come back. I have a little place in Hawaii, and I’ll be in Australia in March. I’d like to come snowboarding [in Japan] and I’d like to see the countryside. There were nice waves in Okinawa … I might go back there. It would be certainly worth coming back.
In the works:
I have a travel book — it started about two to three years ago when I went to China. I’m working on that, and hopefully I’ll try to finish that up this year. And then we have the play, the “Margaritaville” musical, which has been an ongoing thing we’ve been working on for six years. It’s actually opening in La Jolla [Calif.] in April. We’ll do it there and then take it on the road, and in about a year we’ll go to Broadway with it. But it’s fun because it’s little more diverse. I should go back and do an album soon — when it comes to me I’ll go. It’s been fun for me to do some other things.
Jimmy Buffett has been on the road the last week for his brand new I Don’t Know Tour, and on Thursday in Nashville he was joined by a special guest: Alan Jackson. The country legend came out for “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”
Check out what songs have been in the set lists so far:
Do you have a favorite Jimmy Buffett song that you haven’t heard him perform live in years? Now is your chance to tell him! Jimmy’s people have compiled a list of songs that he hasn’t played in over 10 years. Simply select your favorite 5, and they will randomly choose one of the top-voted songs for Jimmy to play each night on tour!
Five consecutive years of summer tour warm-ups in Austin during May yielded a first at the Moody Theater Monday: Jimmy Buffett wore a blazer.
“Manuel’s [American Designs] in Nashville,” announced the cult leader two tunes into a nearly two-hour, 21-song set last night at the home of Austin City Limits, while stroking a lapel. “This was on a mannequin.”
For starters, the bandleader of 11 group members began the show with an extended rap about some eight years of tour fine-tuning in the capital city. (Wait, and only five shows!?) Paying tribute to his local mentor Jerry Jeff Walker, who opens his Frisco show on Saturday in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Willie Nelson’s statue out front (“Since he’s still alive, I wonder how Willie feels about that”), and Austin itself, Buffett uncharacteristically went on at length before ever playing a note.
In fact, the fiesta got off to a slow start. The frontman explained that this year’s I Don’t Know tour sought to revive songs the traveling tiki carnival hadn’t performed in a decade or more. “Presents to Send You,” “Migration,” “Cowboy in the Jungle”? No such luck. Instead, nostalgia only went back as far as 2009 and 1996 respectively on the one-two of openers “Summerzcool” and “Only Time Will Tell.”
Before long, however, the band was functioning at 80-proof, Floridays’ “Meet Me in Memphis” cruising its namesake’s Beale Street, and tour moniker “I Don’t Know (Spicoli’s Theme)” reviving 1982 teen film yuks Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Who recalls that the first name of Sean Penn’s titular stoner was Jeff? For “Margaritaville,” the host welcomed Hollywood mega-producer Frank Marshall onstage to play guitar and sing harmonies with second lieutenant Mac McAnally.
McAnally’s solo turn on the only song Duane Allman wrote by himself, instrumental “Little Martha,” segued the band out of Caribbean bar band mode – congas, steel drums, trumpet, back-up singers – into a bluegrass cluster at one end of the wide stage. Six string-benders, from mandolin to Temple native Doyle Grisham’s acoustic slide, and one accordionist picked as Buffett sang to the lords of Easter Island (“Delaney Talks to Statues”) and then honored his onetime neighbor Glenn Frey with their co-write “Gypsies in the Palace,” about a friend of theirs who impersonated the the king parrothead in order to stuff a couple of girls into the singer’s Porsche, which ended up in a creek.
2. Only Time Will Tell
4. Meet Me in Memphis
5. Pencil Thin Mustache
6. Son of a Son of a Sailor
7. Come Monday
8. Cheeseburger in Paradise
9. I Don’t Know (Spicoli’s Theme)
10. Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes
13. Little Martha
14. Delaney Talks to Statues
15. Gypsies in the Palace
16. Take It Easy
17. Barometer Soup
18. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
19. A Pirate Looks at 40
20. Southern Cross
While you’re ringing in the new year, be sure to set your television to ABC to catch a portion of Jimmy Buffett’s show from the Barclays Center in New York City. During the Dick Clark New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show, host Ryan Seacrest will cut to Buffett’s show for the performance of “Margaritaville.”