(UMe) As a Christmas baby, it seems befitting that the late Jimmy Buffett would most certainly release a Christmas album, his first being Christmas Island in 1996. The unmistakably chill and festive holiday record, filled with both originals and inspired covers of beloved yuletide classics was an instant smash and became a perennial favorite for Parrotheads and lovers of Christmas music alike.
In celebration of the iconic artist's life and legacy, and just in time for the holidays, Buffett's Christmas Island, will be released on vinyl for the first time ever on December 15 via MCA/UMe. The festive platter arrives with two vinyl options for fans to choose from: standard black vinyl and limited edition red vinyl. Pre-order Christmas Island here (ad).
Originally released in 1996 on CD, the platinum-selling Christmas Island hit No. 27 on Billboard 200 chart, where it spent 14 weeks and ended up becoming one of 1997's Top 200 albums. Meanwhile, Christmas Island also spent a staggering 81 weeks on Billboard's Top Holiday Albums chart, peaking at No. 4.
Christmas Island was Buffett's first Christmas album, his 21st studio album (of 32 studio albums total), and boasts a pair of original tunes, "A Sailor's Christmas" and "Merry Christmas, Alabama (Never Far from Home)," both co-penned by Buffett himself. The album likewise features covers of seasonal classics such as "Christmas Island," "Jingle Bells," and "Up on the House Top," as well as his takes on the Hawaiian-vibed "Mele Kalikimaka" (made famous by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters) and John Lennon's protest tune-tuned-holiday-hit produced by Phil Spector, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," and more. "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (a.k.a. "Twas The Night Before Christmas"), which was a hidden track on the original CD, also appears in these two vinyl versions.
Reflecting on the album and the significance of the holiday in his life, Buffett wrote in the original liner notes: "For those of you who didn't know, I was born on Christmas Day 1946, the day W.C. Fields died. I think this only goes to prove that God does have a sense of humor, but being born on Christmas was rough going at first. The most obvious scam was to try and double up on presents... It did not sit well with my mother, who made it known, in no uncertain terms to the aunts, uncles and cousins of the Buffett clan strung out along the Gulf coast, that she expected two presents for her bouncing baby boy-one for his birthday and one for Christmas. On the whole it worked quite well, though there were a few Scrooge like occurrences where I would get socks for my birthday and a tie for Christmas. This probably is the reason I never have liked to wear either since."
Buffett continued, "Christmas Island is a collection of songs, not ladled over with sugary sentimentality and not too far out there in the strange corridors down which my mind sometimes wanders, and I hope it is what you would expect from the Christmas War baby turned island boy born on the day W.C. Fields died."
This special Christmas Island release celebrates Buffett's unmatched legacy of breezy, timeless storytelling about beachy escapism and cocktail-fueled adventures which, in 2006, led to his induction into the Nashville Songwriting Hall of Fame. Lovingly described by the New York Times as a "folk hero," Buffett, who sold more than 40 million albums in his lifetime, passed away in September 2023 at age 76.
Buffett's fanbase of "Parrotheads," as loyal as they are legion, fittingly mourned his loss with celebrations of life including a colorful parade in Key West, Fla. and a trio of festivities in Baton Rouge, La. Within days of his passing, Buffett's greatest hits album, Songs You Know by Heart: Jimmy Buffett's Greatest Hit(s), jumped to No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart.
A patron saint of partying and bringer of bliss, with this reissue of Christmas Island, Buffett continues, even in absentia, to imbue fans' holiday season with joy. The album teems with steel drums, sunny dispositions, and all the Margaritaville vibes you could desire, prompting Entertainment Weekly to remark, upon Christmas Island's wintry release, "You might find yourself wishing you were marooned on an island."
Christmas Island Track Listing
1. Christmas Island
2. Jingle Bells
3. A Sailor's Christmas
4. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
5. Up On The House Top
1. Mele Kalikimaka
2. Run Rudolph Run
3. Ho Ho Ho And A Bottle of Rhum
4. I'll Be Home for Christmas
5. Merry Christmas, Alabama (Never Far from Home)
6. A Visit From St. Nicholas