The Story Behind Jimmy Buffett’s Hopeful Song “Bubbles Up”

When Jimmy Buffett passed away in September 2023 from a rare form of cancer, he left behind one last gift of song for his dedicated fans, “Bubbles Up.” In typical Buffett fashion, “Bubbles Up” is a hopeful tune that encourages the listener to keep looking for the light. So, when the journey gets long / Just know that you are loved / There is light up above / And the joy is always enough / Bubbles up, he sings sweetly in the chorus.

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“Bubbles Up” is featured on Buffett’s posthumous album, Equal Strain On All Parts, which will be released on November 3. “It’s hard to imagine a world without Jimmy Buffett,” co-writer Will Kimbrough said onstage at the 2023 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame gala where he honored Buffett with a performance of the song they wrote together, “But here we are.” Below, hear Kimbrough’s heartfelt perspective on being tasked with writing one of the last songs Buffett recorded.

The Story Behind “Bubbles Up”  

“Jimmy reached out to me over Christmas in 2019 and again in 2022 with a message, ‘Are you ready for some homework?’ And I said ‘Yeah.’ But what I didn’t know at first was that Jimmy was trusting me with some of his last song ideas of his joyful life. Jimmy made a living and built an empire making people happy, and he wasn’t afraid of being happy. He was not ashamed of being happy, he was perfectly willing to share it with everybody. He’s trusted me with his ideas late in his life and when he gave me this idea, I thought it was an unusual one for him because we haven’t wrote anything serious. He would say, ‘Parrotheads don’t want to hear that!’ and throw it out the window. But I worked with Songwriting With Soldiers and a great songwriter from Austin, Darden Smith, trained me this way. He said, ‘Finish the song, use their words, and don’t F it up.’ And I used that this time with Jimmy because he gave me this idea for a song that really is a beautiful idea…We miss you Jimmy Buffett, thank you so much for the songs and the stories.” 

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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