University of Bourbon Street.
It's where singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett sang on the street for tips in 1969.
It's where Buffett picked up jazz, brass band and Creole influences.
It's where Buffett learned he needed a real band with real gigs with real recording studios and a real business model.
And it's the title of Buffett's new release.
The newest Jimmy Buffett song (so far) has now been released posthumously. "University of Bourbon Street" was co-written by Buffett and Mobile native Will Kimbrough.
The song will also be featured on the upcoming Buffett album, "Equal Strain on All Parts," scheduled for release on November 3.
Buffett died September 1 following a four-year battle with Merkel Cell skin cancer. He left us with finished songs and recordings yet to be produced.
Buffett is backed up on "University of Bourbon Street" by New Orleans-famed "Preservation Hall Jazz Band." The song is autobiographical, recounting the musical melting pot of New Orleans and how Buffett got a degree of hard knocks on the streets of The Big Easy.
Will Kimbrough is a native of Mobile who started there with his garage band, Will and the Bushmen. He got serious and took his career to Nashville. He has been and still is a much-in-demand songwriter, studio musician, singer and producer. His main collaborators have been Jimmy Buffett and his sidekick, Mac McAnally, 10-time Country Music Entertainer of the Year from Red Bay, Alabama.
Kimbrough was a guest artist at Jimmy Buffett's "Live from the Gulf Coast" concert in July 2010 in Gulf Shores. He has albums and singles of his own and a catalog of credits, writing and producing songs for others.
Kimbrough posted this personal account on his Facebook of working with Buffett on the new song:
"I started writing “The University of Bourbon Street” on my couch Dec 19, 2022, after Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers sent me one of his “are you ready for some homework?” Messages.
I got to work, keeping Allen Toussaint in the front of my mind, as well as Jimmy’s own story. (Toussaint was a legendary New Orleans musician and producer.)
He loved it. He worked on the lyrics. We went back and forth until we had the music just the way we wanted it.
We got together to record the tracks in late January 2022 in Nashville.
One of the most profound experiences of this time period was rewriting the lyrics from beginning to end right there in the studio with Jimmy. No pressure!
But we did it. Despite his illness, he was 100% on and energetic, lighting up the room with that smile. Making everyone feel comfortable and laugh."
With the addition of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the song was complete.
I cannot describe how honored and happy I am to have had the opportunity to write this song with Jimmy, record it with the Coral and Reefer band, and then have the icing on top be the one, and only Preservation Hall Jazz band.
So, I’ll just leave it at that.
Also released today, Jimmy and the coral reefers’ version of Dylan’s “Mozambique”, which features the one and only Emmylou Harris!
That was fun to record as well… The jam at the end happened in real time live. Emmylou came in and did her magic. Jimmy was so happy.
Hope y’all get a listen. Go buy that LP & CD on the Nov. 3 release date, from your local record shop! Like Grimey's New & Preloved Music!
Thanks American Songwriter!
And thanks to WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans for play “U of Bourbon St”! At about 95 minutes in to the show, master DJ talks to maestro Ben Jaffe of Preservation Hall Jazz Band about JB, the song, the recording session, and then they play the song.
Kimbrough wrote several Jimmy Buffett songs: "Nobody from Nowhere," "Piece of Work, "Wings," "Soulfully" and "Champion of the World."
Will Kimbrough is considered an honorary member of Buffett's Coral Reefers Band.
I predict that the Coral Reefers Band will not go away following the death of Buffett and that Kimbrough will become the new co-lead voice of the group, alternating with Mac McAnnally. They will be a lasting tribute to Jimmy Buffett — the man and the music.
The author, Jim Zeigler, is a retired Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].
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