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LISTEN: Eli Young Band with a Splash of Jimmy Buffett

The Story Behind Giving "Saltwater Gospel" a Second Chance

Eli Young Band can be steadfast about their music, and this time, their determination is paying off.

Late on Thursday night (August 20), the band shared the good news on Facebook that Jimmy Buffett had joined them for a new take on one of their older fan favorites.

The band's “Saltwater Gospel" from 2016 wasn't an official hit on the charts, per se, but the band knew that their fans loved it. There was just something about the song -- penned by Ross Copperman, Nicolle Galyon and Ashley Gorley -- that Eli Young Band thought deserved a second chance. "We've always known the song was special. Fans at the concerts were always singing along like it was a big ol' hit. And we always thought that that was a missed opportunity," Mike Eli told me when he called me from his home in Texas. "It became one of those things we'd decided to leave in the past, but it kept coming up with radios stations and fans and the label. So we thought, 'What if we try again? What if we found someone who believed in this like we do?'"

And they did. The band's people approached Buffett's people, and he said yes right away. "I was like, 'I'll believe it when I actually hear him on it.' But in less than a week, he went into the studio in his house and cut the vocals. He added so much of his Jimmy Buffett charm to it. Jimmy Buffett knows how to be Jimmy Buffett," Eli explained, "so it couldn't have turned out any better."

Buffett doesn't exactly collaborate with just anyone. In 2003 he jumped on Alan Jackson's hit "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," in 2004 he joined Martina McBride on "Trip Around the Sun," in 2005 there was his Toby Keith collaboration "Piece of Work" and his "Barefootin'" duet with Alan Jackson, and in 2011 he hooked up with Zac Brown Band for "Knee Deep." But that's pretty much it for his work with country artists.

And knowing how selective Buffett is, Eli said he felt giddy that he'd agreed to the idea of refreshing the band's "Saltwater Gospel (Fins Up Version)."

"I can't even imagine how many requests Jimmy Buffett gets to be a guest artist," he added, "so it felt really good. Especially now. And especially with a song that we feel deserves a second chance."

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