2 Songs You Didn’t Know Jimmy Buffett Wrote for Other Artists

Over the course of his nearly six-decade-long career, Jimmy Buffett has become far more than a musician. He’s transformed into a businessman, a peddler of the sun-soaked lifestyle he sings about across his immense catalog. His easygoing tropic rock has since become a way of being, an empire even, as he has continually franchised “the good life.”

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Buffett and music, however, weren’t always sand, surf, and boat drinks. The icon began his career as nothing more than a troubadour, busking his way into stardom with pockets full of country-flecked folk tunes. His songwriting eventually found its way into the catalogs of several fellow musicians.

Here are 2 songs you didn’t know Jimmy Buffett wrote for other artists.

1. “Railroad Lady” – Lefty Frizzell (1973)

Written by Jimmy Buffett and Jerry Jeff Walker

She’s a railroad lady, just a little bit shady / Spending her days on a train / She’s the semi-good looker but the fast rails they took her / Now she’s trying, just trying to get home again, plays the delicately plucked country story song, “Railroad Lady.”

Penned by Buffett alongside the legendary Jerry Jeff Walker, the 1973 tune has become somewhat of a country standard since Lefty Frizzell first recorded it. Buffett would release his own version of the song a few months after it was first released and it then became fair game for the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson to make it their own.

2. “Sugar Trade” – James Taylor (1981)

Written by Jimmy Buffett, Timothy Mayer, and James Taylor

Oh, the crown and the cross the musket and chain / the white man’s religion, the family name. / Two hundred years later and who is to blame? / The captain or the cargo or the juice of the sugar cane? sings James Taylor in the 1981 deep cut, “Sugar Trade.”

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The song was written by Buffett and Taylor with lyricist Timothy Mayer. The tune is a solemn one, doubling as a brief history lesson through colonial America, in part touching on the bloodshed and brutality that took place in the name of progress.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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