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Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  272 ratings  ·  61 reviews
A candid, compelling, and rollicking portrait of the pirate captain of Margaritaville—Jimmy Buffett.

In Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way, acclaimed music critic Ryan White has crafted the first definitive account of Buffett’s rise from singing songs for beer to his emergence as a tropical icon and CEO behind the Margaritaville industrial complex, a vast network of me
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by Atria Books
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  272 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you've ever been to a a Jimmy Buffett concert or listened to a CD, you'll want to read this book to learn more about the man who sings about the good life sailing on his boat yet is the CEO
of Margaritaville, a company with restaurants, hotels and resorts. This is a well researched book that traces Jimmy's life from his early days singing for beer in New Orleans to becoming the head of the
Parrott Head nation where it's always 5 o'clock somewhere.
Lance Carney
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
(Initial Disclosure: I am a huge Parrotthead since discovering Jimmy Buffett music in the late 70s.)

I hesitate to read biographies that aren't authorized by the person/victim, but after ignoring this book when it was released, found it in the bargain bin and couldn't stop myself. It is basically a book about Jimmy as told through his friends and Coral Reefers. So take it with a grain of salt (if you can find that pesky salt shaker). If they are anything like my friends spinning yarns of our earl
Fred Forbes
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
I met Tom Corcoran at a book signing. He wrote the series devoted to Alex Rutledge, Key West Photographer dragged into solving murders around the island. Good author. Why do I mention him here? Well, he is a friend of Jimmy Buffett and provided assistance to White in the production of this book and if you check the index you will see he is mentioned almost as many times as Buffett himself, almost as if the book is about Tom. Want to enjoy this book? Read the first and last chapters and the epilo ...more
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the best book I've read capturing the mythos of who Jimmy Buffett is--and I've read several. It manages to explain his dichotomy of artist and businessman without trying to apologize for either. It reveals what must be unprecedented access to many long-time Buffett associates, if not the man himself. The story takes a few chapters to get into, and the long cast of characters can get a little confusing (especially if you're not familiar with them already), but White captures the essence o ...more
Sam Motes
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pull up a bar stool Parrotheads and listen close to the life of the King Conch of Margaritaville as he lives the life we all wish we could.
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is a good chance that I may return to write a longer review. But while I am here.

I truly enjoyed this book. As dense as it is with names and dates and details, it never lost the charm of a good biographical read about a person who has etched his way musically into many parts of my life. If Jimmy Buffett were a super hero instead of a beach bum, this would be his origin story, though some would claim that he eventually created the very thing that he fought against (or did he simply embrace
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was hoping this would give me more insight into who Buffett is as a person, but it just felt like a bunch of Good Ole Boys anecdotes without any real depth.
Ted Lehmann
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way by Ryan White (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2017, 368 pp., $26.99/12.99) brings style, wit, deep understanding, and insight to the story of an entertainment phenomenon that would be easy to dismiss as merely a substance infused romp through an aimless and lucky journey to riches and fame. In writing a thorough, deeply researched, and thoughtful biography about one of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries' most potent entertainment forces, ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would recommend this book to all Jimmy Buffett fans/Parrotheads. It was fascinating how he made a lifelong career with only 1 big hit (Margaritaville) and little or no air time on the radio, yet he is worth about 500 million and packs stadiums all over the United States, is generally one of the top ten grossing concerts every year, has written bestselling books and has made a business empire from Margaritaville. He learned what some "stars" never do, that if you give your fans what they want, ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
I love all of Buffett's music, I love Margaritaville, and I love Key West. I did not love this book and DNF'd it. It's written in a very music-reporter kind of way with lots of names and record labels and people who apparently were movers and shakers in the industry but as a non-music-industry person, I had a hard time following it all and found it supremely uninteresting to read. It's a shame. I wanted to really enjoy this book but it's just not worth reading.
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jimmy's been my favorite singer/songwriter since I listened in 1983 to my first album of his- 'You Had To Be There'. That's when I swallowed the hook. I've always wanted to know his legend, how the songs came to him, and how much of those were semi-true stories. This book explains a lot but there's something missing here and I think it's Jimmy Buffett.
The book traces his life from its beginnings all the way up to the top of his Margaritaville empire, and it's a good line, very interesting, but
Andy Miller
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I excited to get this book because I've loved Jimmy Buffet songs since I was in college and before he was truly famous. It was the combination of his thoughtful lyrics and infectious enthusiasm that made me look forward to each of his early albums. But this biography disappointed me.
Ryan White clearly did his research in writing the book; he interviewed scores of people who knew Buffet from the times he was struggling in Key West and Nashville to the present day, he got the back stories on the w
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well I first took this book with me on vacation to the beach in Wales this past summer, finally really got started on it this fall, and finished it today. It is fitting, not only that I finished on Jimmys Birthday, but also that this book is a lot like being a ParrotHead. You can read it, put it down and go about your life being a mom, a doctor, a friend, a daughter...whatever...and then just like JB’s music you can pick it back up again and find yourself welcome right back where you left off. I ...more
Mike Williams
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Starts out a little slow and picks up speed along the way. Not really an authorized biography by the sounds of it but a nicely researched summary of JB's ride. I was expecting more of a book based on Jimmy's perspective but it's more of a narrative that was compiled by interviews with folks who were there with Jimmy along the way. It's a good read and I think it's worthy of the 4 star rating but I think I will be on the look out for another book on the subject to fill in the blanks.
Kevin McGinn
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a Parrot Head since I was in diapers, this was AWESOME and I now have a new desire to live in Key West! It is fun knowing how he could make so much money off the song where he’s searching for that lost shaker and how it never got old. So crack open a LandShark Lager, kick back and chill and read the book about your favorite guy and let the Fin begin!
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not at all what I was hoping it would be. I love Jimmy Buffett. Love his music. Really was wanting to read about him and his journey & the stories behind the songs. Not every other person. That ever encountered him. The book was scattered with too many other stories.
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book for parrot heads! I learned new things about how some of Buffett's songs were created.
Tim Kardatzke
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Met expectations and also got a history lesson about the music industry in the late 60’s/early 70’s.
Larry Coleman
Oct 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
I'm really surprised that I hated this book, since I really like Jimmy Buffett. Actually, it's precisely because I like Jimmy Buffett that I hated this book. It really should be called "A Hundred Lives Part of the Way, With Occasional Mentions of Jimmy Buffett's Life", because it's about almost everyone EXCEPT him.

JB gets probably less than 20% of the book, and the other 80% is about everyone who has ever played with him, talked to him, heard of him, passed by him on the street walking, or serve
Kristin Strong
I love musician bios. I love Jimmy Buffett. I did not love this book.

It's not a biography, exactly. It comes across as more of a collection of anecdotes connected to various stages of Buffett's career and musicography and it's so scattered I kept losing track of who was speaking, who the hell that was anyway, what year we might possibly be in...I mean, yeah, it's got a timeline, but the author keeps introducing new figures into the mix and telling their backstories and I guess I'm just too old t
Todd Stockslager
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Review title: Grown older but not up

Just past his 71st Christmas Day birthday, Jimmy Buffett has indeed had the good life all the way in the song lyrics White appropriates from "He Went to Paris" for the subtitle of this biography. He's done it, and achieved remarkable success all the way, by not growing up (an idea I've taken from another Buffett lyric for my review title) out of his own personality and musical style.

White, a journalist and author of a Springsteen discography, has a deft touch
Jason Eifling
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I admit I am a fan of Jimmy Buffett and have been for over 20 years. My first CD by Buffett was the classic "Songs You Know by Heart" greatest hits and I then jumped head first into Buffett music by buying his boxed set "Boats, Beaches, Bars, and Ballads." After that, I was hooked. I have read most of Buffett's literary creations and still try to keep up with what he is currently promoting.
This is probably the best Buffett biography I have read. Yes, some of the names and references can be diffi
Sean Macmillan
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
So I'll start by agreeing with other reviewers. It's a poorly written book. In some chapters, there's very little coherency and bounces around. It's like he wrote a stream of consciousness. Ryan will start talking about something at length and it really has nothing to do with the story. Other times it's a tie in with Buffett but he takes the unnecessarily long way to get there.

That being said, once I got used to the writing style I really enjoyed the book. I'd say about 100 pages or so in, you s
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a ParrotHead, born and raised. I'm told one of my first favorite songs was "Magaritaville", as it came out when I was two. My Dad LOVED Buffett, and he passed it down. My nephew and niece are now 3rd generation fans. This book is a well done study of how this guy who sings about Beaches, Bars, Boats, and Ballads has had an amazing career that has turned into a philosophy.

I think my favorite thing in the book is when it's revealed that Jimmy used to lock himself in his hotel room to organize
Jamie Culp
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a fan of Buffett, as I would suspect most people are who read this. It was fascinating to see how he made himself into the image people have of him--it's life imitating art imitating life. You see the long journey that made him into an overnight success, and how someone who struggled to get radio airplay built a cult following into mega-stardom and serious corporate profits. It was also fun to learn the genesis of some of his best songs.

But in Ryan's attempt to make the story complete, it d
James P
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book! White does a good job of presenting the details of Jimmy Buffet's life. He reviews the challenges and accomplishments of Buffet's life in music. Jimmy Buffet is a private person and this book did little to present that aspect of his life. It was good to read about what he had to do to be successful with Country and Rock producers. When he proved to be successful then artists wanted to identify with him. He is one of the most successful music artists of all time and his net worth conti ...more
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
While I found the stories behind the songs really interesting, I felt the author was kind of all over the place. The chapter would start out talking about one thing, branch off into the life stories of three more people, and then move into another topic. I often had to read back over what I read, because he was referencing someone, and who that someone was and why they mattered at the moment had become lost. I felt it spent a little too much time on the background of producers and others.
But th
May 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
I found this book a hard slog. Overly detailed and rambling not-very-interesting factiods. There would be 5 people in paragraph (a) 3 more in paragraphs (b) and nobody you really cared about. I was curious so I counted over 50 names in the index, just for A & B - and I didn't count the Buffetts. I learned a lot more about Jimmy Buffett reading his own books, which I find hugely entertaining. I'm a Parrothead and hoped for more from this book.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Not exactly what I was expecting. I was very excited to read this book. However, it was hard to follow all the side stories of musicians I don't know. The first part of the book really focused on the side stories which were slow. The last half of the book picked up the pace considerably and was more directed in its story line. The author did a great job (during the last half) explaining the Margaritaville phenomenon. The entire book was more about seeing JB's rise to success through the musician ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
I love Jimmy Buffett, but I am not a Parrot Head. I dream about living the life of a beach bum, but I don't appreciate the hijinks of the (imagined) life of the person who spawned Margaritaville. So it was nice to see that one of my favorite musicians is a loyal, creative person without a huge ego. Kudos to his parents. I don't like the way this writer writes, but I did appreciate the story of the life, and the fact that Mr. White was pretty clear that not every story was complete fact.
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Twice named one of the top writers in the country by the Society for Features Journalism, Ryan White spent nearly 16 years at the Oregonian covering sports, music, and culture. He's appeared on the public radio variety show Live Wire! as both an interviewer and an essayist. He has also written for Sports Illustrated, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, the Washington Post, the Portla ...more