Monday, September 9, 2013

Jimmy Buffett - One Particular Harbour

Today (September 9th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of One Particular Harbour, the twelfth studio album from American singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett. It went to number 59 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 35 on the US Billboard Country chart.

Side one starts with “Stars on the Water”, a cover of the first track from country songwriter Rodney Crowell‘s self-titled 1981 album. This celebration of evenings in a number of southern US port locales has an up-tempo country beat to it and a blues-tinged guitar solo.

“I Used to Have Money One Time” has a heavy, almost funk grind to it. The lyrics tell of a guy who was once on top but lost everything.

“Livin’ It Up”, co-written by Buffett, J.D. Souther and Josh Leo, has a strong synth line played by Michael Utley.

Steve Goodman wrote and recorded “California Promises” earlier in 1983 for his album Affordable Art. Clearly Buffett liked it a lot to record a cover for it here. This piano-based ballad about commitment and fidelity features a heartfelt vocal from him.

The title track “One Particular Harbour” closes out the side. The opening lines are in Tahitian, courtesy of the song’s co-writer Bobby Holcomb. As the first single, this one went to number 22 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and number 4 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart. This mid-tempo tune about a special port-of-call features a number of tropical hooks. I like the steel drum, played by Robert Greenidge, used here.

Side two opens with the question “Why You Wanna Hurt My Heart?” which was written by Arthur Neville. The song has a solid reggae hook to it musically.

With rag-time rhythms, “Honey Do” tells of a guy who is waiting on his lady to arrive, but she is running very late.

“We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About” was a very popular deep cut on the local rock stations growing up. It is a fun song about a generation who has now grown up.

“Twelve Volt Man” served as the B-side to the second single. It tells of a man who never pursued education but has seen the world through his travels. He lives life simply.

Van Morrison wrote and recorded “Brown Eyed Girl” for his 1967 album Blowin’ Your Mind! Buffett’s cover, released as the second single, went to number 13 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It has a strong rocking beat with a sprinkling of Caribbean touches as well.

The album closes with “Distantly In Love”, which was also the B-side to the first single. This one is a gentle love song, sent from across the miles that keep a couple apart. In the end, the guy finds out why he no longer hears back from her. I like the guitar on this one.

I was not very much into Jimmy Buffett’s music in my teens or early 20’s. My big exposure to his music came after I got married in 1990. My wife, a fan, decided we should get a four-disk compilation set when we got our first CD player. Even then, I was a bit resistant.

But then about six years ago, when I got my first iPod and was burning our music library into digital form I got into the collection. For me, the key was putting all the songs into their right chronological and album-contextual format. Once I did that, I really began to enjoy them. I had a little over half of One Particular Harbour thanks to the compilation.

I guess with age came appreciation. Still, I would not consider myself a “Parrot Head” and, if I did end up at one of his concerts, I am sure I would be one of the more sedate fans at the show. I would just be chilling to the island rhythms.

Are you hungry for more Buffett? Here are a few more of his albums that I have reviewed:

- For 1973’s A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, click here.

- For 1982’s Somewhere Over China, click here.

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