One definition for creativity is the ability to make new connections between familiar topics.
That makes Buffett Backstories: Fifty Years Fifty Songs by author Scott Atwell a work of creative genius about one of Key West’s most iconic figures, Jimmy Buffett. Buffett Backstories is a collection of short stories interweaving Jimmy’s songs and themes related to his work as threads running through the fabric of his life and experience. Not just a “story behind the song” narrative for songwriters and music buffs, the stories Atwell spins are wide and ranging, typically involving some hilarious antic, interview with someone in the know, and always, the lovingly applied insight of the author, finding connection where even the man himself might not have considered. The cast of characters runs the gamut of Key West literary and social scenes, from Hemingway and Silverstein to barkeeps and far flung “children of the Moon.” Drawing on interviews from The Paul Leslie Hour and others, Atwell seizes information from all available sources and sizes it up for the reader’s consideration alongside historic photos and even a map of Buffett’s Key West for Parrot-head historical treasure hunters. November’s annual Buffett fan club confab, Meeting of the Minds sees Fausto’s, across from Coral Reefer Band’s old filling station rehearsal space, stocking up on chocolate milk and other fan-favorite necessities in preparation for thirsty visitors. A newcomer to Buffett fandom myself, it’s fun to explore the man and his artistry through the adoring and discerning eyes of Key West native author Scott Atwell. I am hoping for a sequel to the book with audio and video companion interviewing Jimmy Buffett with his responses and reactions to each chapter. I imagine some might be uncomfortable, given the nature of legend and legacy, memory and wistful thinking through the ages. But after all, as Elvis Presley and Buffett producer Norbert Putnam says in the book, “All great songs contain one ingredient… some form of conflict,” like the blown out flipflop and cut heel in Buffett’s “Margaritaville.” Who knew that one song would spin off millions of dollars each year in licensing fees, not only as song royalty income, but in franchise fees and merchandising. Buffett is inspiring as an arts entrepreneur who made his own way to success in a love hate relationship with traditional music industry circles. In true conch fashion, Atwell includes a chapter dedicated to Buffett’s longstanding work in ocean life conservation especially his “save the manatees” initiative. The gentle “cows of the sea” were driven to the brink of extinction by unsuspecting boaters injuring the beasts. Buffett’s work to save the manatee, thought by some to be the earth’s real mermaids, resulted in special accommodations for the sea creatures, and helped preserve their habitats for the enjoyment and edification of future generations. Mr. Buffett can add King of the Mermaids to his many titles in this gal’s heart. For an all around great read, I have to give 5 stars to Scott Atwell and his book Buffett Backstories. Our congratulations to the author and all those blessed with time enough to read his book -
Buffett Backstories: Fifty Years Fifty Songs by Scott Atwell
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