After a career that’s spanned 50 years, Jimmy Buffett has a good idea what his albums should sound like. But after a seven-year gap before his new LP, Life on the Flip Side, which came out today, he had the benefit of receiving advice from Paul McCartney on how to bring the best out of its 14 songs.
Buffett, like many other artists, planned the release to coincide with a tour, but the coronavirus pandemic has shut down those plans, meaning he’s at home during the summer for the first time in 44 years.
“You hear all about people running out of material later in life because a lot of them don’t make it this far with a career,” he told Billboard in a new interview. “I’ve heard a lot about writer’s block, but I’ve never had that problem, ’cause I figure as a traveling man and as a nomad, you run into so many more stories than you can possibly imagine, and the source is always there and it always has been for me.”
He said he’s taken advantage of new options that became available. “I can run my own Pro Tools thing and all that, and that really helps the process,” he noted. “And I had the good fortune of some people to talk to about this, like Paul McCartney.”
Buffett explained that he and the former Beatle became “friends from knowing each other in St. Barts, and our wives are friends. You get Paul McCartney talking to you about what you ought to do on an album, and you listen. We’d played a show together and hung out, and I played him some stuff and he gave me some feedback. He said, ‘Let it breathe a little more, just kind of let it go along and make it light.’ It was good feedback – and then you got outside and go, ‘Fuck! That’s Paul McCartney!’ You can’t get over that.”
He revealed he’d been thinking about taking a summer off for several years, so he was able to enjoy the positive aspects of being locked down at home. “Our silver lining in this dark cloud is I don’t think I would’ve ever spent this much time with my grown kids, ’cause everybody’s got their lives now,” he said. “I think that’s a treasure. A lot of people are spending more time with their kids than they ever thought they would ’cause everybody’s huddled up, and I think that’s a positive thing.”