3 Min ReadBy Ben Nemeroff
Learn the Chords to Your Favorite Jimmy Buffett Songs on Guitar
Learn Jimmy Buffett’s chords and play along with popular songs like “Come Monday” and “Christmas Island”.
Whether you call it “trop rock” or “Gulf and Western,” singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett’s unique blend of country, rock, folk, and calypso has made him a musical icon. Adored by his legions of followers affectionately known as “Parrotheads,” Buffett’s laid back brand of music focuses on themes of taking a more laid back approach to life and enjoying simple, oceanside pleasures with a cold drink in-hand.
Jimmy Buffett began his career in Nashville as a country performer, but it was a trip to Key West that provided him with the epiphany that would inform his sound and style. Buffett retained his zest for storytelling in his songs, following in the footsteps of his friend and mentor, Jim Croce, but carved out his own niche with memorable tunes reflecting on life with a sense of humor and a love for sand and surf.
But don’t let Buffett’s beach bum exterior fool you! The talented singer-songwriter-guitarist brought us the song that launched a lifestyle and several successful business ventures, including Margaritaville Resorts, restaurants, Latitude Margaritaville communities and three best-selling books.
While you might not be able to strum your guitar on the beach or escape to the islands in the dead of winter, there’s no better way to invoke that feeling of tropical ease than by learning to play a few easy Jimmy Buffett songs on guitar:
• Come Monday • Christmas Island • He Went to Paris • A Pirate Looks At Forty • Migration • Oldest Surfer On the Beach
In this article, we’ll show you how to play the chords to these Jimmy Buffett songs and some of the techniques you’ll need to learn. Fender Play makes learning easy and fun. So, grab your guitar and get ready to strum along. (Flip-flops optional.)
Jimmy Buffett’s “Come Monday” Chords
A mellow tune from early in Buffett’s career, the singer-songwriter wrote the song for his wife while on tour in 1973. On “Come Monday,” the chords and lyrics to this Jimmy Buffett classic are sweet and introspective, ruminating on a relationship and missing someone you love. Location plays a key role in many of Buffett’s songs and “Come Monday” is no different -- although the atmosphere contrasts beautiful hiking scenery alongside the smog of LA.
Jimmy Buffett’s “Come Monday” is an easy song for even beginners to play. The song is made up of simple progression made up of the G, D, and C chords. Alternate strumming patterns gives this song its wistful-yet-optimistic laid back feel.
Learn how to play “Come Monday” by Jimmy Buffett with a free trial of Fender Play.
Jimmy Buffett’s “Christmas Island” Chords
If you’re one of those folks who could do without a “White Christmas” and prefer to avoid snow, “Christmas Island” is the song (and place) for you. A jolly Jimmy Buffett takes it to the tropics on this song, which was the lead track on his 1996 album of the same name, reworking holiday classics in his own inimitable style.
You’ll need to know a handful of easy chords to play Jimmy Buffett’s “Christmas Island,” including the F major chord and the A7 guitar chord. The relaxed, easy-going feel of this song makes it simple for beginners to get the rhythm of down and smoothly transition between each of the chord changes for a refreshing holiday away from the hustle and bustle.
Learn how to play “Christmas Island” by Jimmy Buffett.
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Jimmy Buffett’s “He Went To Paris” Chords
Another early Jimmy Buffett song, “He Went to Paris” blends a country-folk feel and a storyteller’s approach in its lyrics. One of Buffett’s slower and sadder songs, “He Went to Paris” is the tale of a man’s life, chronicling his evolution from an adventurous young man to a man who finds solace in country living before the war takes everything he loves. In the end, the man still seeks answers, reflecting on the good and bad of life in this emotional track.
Jimmy Buffett’s “He Went to Paris” features chords that are easy for beginner guitarists to learn, such as the A chord and the D chord. However, intermediate and advanced players may want to try breaking the chords down with arpeggio fingerpicking or trying their hand at some of the soulful steel slide techniques heard on “He Went to Paris.”
Learn how to play “He Went to Paris” by Jimmy Buffett with a free trial of Fender Play.
Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks At Forty” Chords
One of Jimmy Buffett’s most popular songs and a staple of his live shows, “A Pirate Looks At Forty” is sung from the perspective of a former smuggler Buffett met when he first moved to Key West. The lyrics to “A Pirate Looks At Forty” take an introspective gander at days gone past and the long-gone thrill of life on the water and wondering what the future holds.
If you want to learn to play Jimmy Buffett’s classic, “A Pirate Looks At Forty,” you’ll need to learn a few easy chords that are suitable for beginners. The song features the G major chord, the D major chord, and the A minor chord. Making this song a little more challenging, you’ll apply a few different guitar techniques to play the strum patterns on this song, including palm muting and syncopated strumming.
Learn how to play “A Pirate Looks At Forty” by Jimmy Buffett.
Jimmy Buffett’s “Migration” Chords
The cheerful, jangly chords of Jimmy Buffett’s song “Migration” are ideal for picking up your favorite acoustic guitar, making a break for the Caribbean, and strumming away on the sand with a salty-tongued parrot on your shoulder. The song features bright-sounding rhythm chords (including the C major and the G7 chord), as well as a country-tinged steel guitar.
In keeping with the style of many of Buffett’s other songs, “Migration” makes use of an alternate strumming pattern when playing the chords. Another guitar technique you’ll put into practice on this song is palm muting, which gives ”Migration” its distinctive beat.
Learn how to play “Migration” by Jimmy Buffett with a free trial of Fender Play.
Jimmy Buffett’s “Oldest Surfer on the Beach” Chords
From his 2013 album, Songs from St. Somewhere, the “Oldest Surfer on the Beach” sees Jimmy Buffett collaborate with legendary guitarist Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. As the song’s name implies, this slow, laid back tune is the story of a retiree who’s enjoying the simple pleasures of life, focusing on the next tasty wave and cool buzz to come his way.
The "Oldest Surfer on the Beach” kicks back with an E minor chord, which gives it its more relaxed feel. The slower pace of the song and relatively easy chords make this one great for beginners to try their strumming hand at. Listen for the alternating strum pattern and percussive strumming to help beef up your guitar technique and have some fun in the process!
Learn how to play “Oldest Surfer on the Beach” by Jimmy Buffett.
Learn to Play Country Rock Classics on Fender Play Guitar Lessons
While learning to play Jimmy Buffett’s songs on guitar won’t guarantee you a one-way ticket to a tropical paradise, it’s still a great way to have some fun and dip a toe into the waters of learning to play tunes that are a unique hybrid of country and rock. From classic icons like Jimmy Buffett to current artists cranking out modern classics, free trial of Fender Play unlocks hundreds of song tutorials that you can learn at your own pace, as well as lessons on chords and skills to help you enhance your playing.