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Featured Artist

  A monthly feature




Mac McAnally



(Photo from www.macmcanally.com)


An interview with internationally renowned singer, songwriter, producer, arranger, long-time Coral Reefer and 2008 CMA MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR, Mr. Lyman Corbitt "Mac" McAnally, Jr.  

For additional information, please visit Mac on his website at:

 * * * * *

In your bio, it says you sowed your musical oats playing both honky-tonks and Baptist Churches. Isn't there a contradiction in there somewhere?

"When I first started playing the juke-joints, one of the first things I noticed was how many of the patrons I recognized from church. I am a fan of Martin Luther's line, that there is nothing more religious than for a man God put here to be a farmer, to farm. I feel that I was put here to make and help others make music. I therefore am a mighty religious man. Any bonus entertainment anyone derives from the contrast or contradiction is free of charge."

When and how did you meet Jimmy Buffett?

"Although I had gone as a fan to see Jimmy's shows, my first contact with him was a note from him after I made my first record. He said that he liked my work and the fact that we were both storytellers from Mississippi. He said that we would be friends and write songs together and that he expected to record some of my songs. I was honored to say the least, but since I was new to showbiz I didn't know how much to count on those things coming true. Twenty-some-odd years later I am here to say that everything he spoke of in that first note has come to pass ten times over. Now in answer to your actual question, we first met in Philadelphia, after his show at the Spectrum and mine at the Bijou."

Let's go "Behind the Music." Can you give us some insight into how you wrote (or co-wrote) the following songs ?

It's My Job
-- "A lesson learned while working on highway construction in Mississippi. I noticed that the days I did my best seemed to pass more quickly than the days I moped around waiting for the whistle to blow. I'm very fortunate to have a job that I love but I give some of the credit to the fact that I learned how important it is to take pride in whatever work you do, fun or not."

In The City -- "I was playing a show in Tampa at the Peanut Gallery, and had some kind of problem at sound check with the P.A. system. Everyone was scrambling around trying to rig it into working, and I sat on the edge of the stage and wrote this little song. I was taught growing up in a very small town that I should be afraid of people from cities. This song is a written apology to city-dwellers everywhere for my mistaken notion that we had less in common than we actually do."

When The Coast is Clear -- "This is the first Buffett/Mac collaboration. It was written in New Orleans in the last two hours of a three-day writing trip. The first two-and-a-half days consisted of nonstop meals and laughter all of which were beneficial to the song."

Last Man Standing -- "Russ Titelman (who produced the Far Side of the World album,) came out to see Jimmy's show in Chicago shortly before recording began, and commented to me how long and remarkable Jimmy's career has been. His actual words were that after the rest of the business has come and gone that Buffett will be the Last Man Standing because he so enjoys the whole process. We both thought that it made for a great title and I put it over the top of a pretty greasy little guitar groove, and together with Jimmy wrote the words. It was written the night before the last day of tracks on the album. It is definitely for and about Jimmy. I myself am usually the First Man Sitting."

Were you surprised to have Jay Leno call you "The Brawny Paper Towel Guy?"

"I answer to just about anything. With regard to being surprised; it hasn't happened in quite some time."

Does anyone besides your mom call you "Lyman" -- your real first name?  When did people start calling you "Mac?"

"I am a Junior. My Dad was named Lyman Corbitt McAnally. He was named after a preacher (Dwight Lyman Moody) and a boxer (Big Jim Corbitt). I like to say that we are a violently religious family. Everyone called my Dad Mac and I was always Little Mac. I still get the "Little" every once in a while back home although I am only "Little" now in old or satellite photos."

Billy Joel says that no one in the music business escapes unscathed. Have you ever been ripped off? Is the music business as cruel as I often hear people say that it is?

"Any business where money and fame can be made quickly attracts a certain type of character. Throw in musicians who are fortunate just to get to do their hobby for a living and you have a baited field for ripoffs. Have I ever been ripped off? Sure. Will you ever hear me complain? Not Likely."

I've encountered those who are critical of Jimmy Buffett. They say he is a lightweight musically. What would you say to them?

"It is not really my place to answer to Jimmy's critics, but I will say that anyone else who has for almost four decades written songs which celebrate life, which nourish the desire of a mass audience to celebrate life, and who is still hungry to do it again and do it better, has a perfect right to criticize."

Everyone always asks musicians what artists or songs they may like. Is there a song that you truly HATE? A song that makes you VOMIT?

"To hate a song is to give it more of your attention than a bad song deserves. There are songs that I don't care for but which have some little hook that you can't get out of your head. There is one Jefferson Starship song which I refuse to listen to but as a parent of young children, I have been forced to expand and/or lower my standards."

What are your thoughts about the music played on commercial radio these days, both country and rock?

"I can usually find some level on which to like a record, whether it is the recording or performance or singing or the song itself. I also know what must be given up in the chasing and realizing of the dreams of artists of any field and I therefore categorically root for them all."

Jimmy Buffett told a story onstage that he used to fling cooked pizzas out into the crowd during some performances. You were named as an accomplice. Is that true, or was/is this a semi-true story?

"I have witnessed the throwing of the pizzas. I have thrown the pizzas. I have participated in sophomoric competitions to determine who could throw pizzas the farthest. I have seen pizzas come out of their boxes and expand like cheesy crabbing nets to unintentionally capture members of the audience. I am quite adept at exaggeration, but in this case it is unnecessary."

When is your next CD coming out? Do you have future tour plans in the works?

"I am 3/4 through the recording process. I have never to this point in my alleged career, had any plan whatsoever."

Finally, if you could be a tree, which one would you be and why?

"As far and away the most stationary member of the Coral Reefers, I have frequently been mistaken for a tree and am therefore very sensitive to the subject. I suppose I would hope to be one of those high mountain scrubs that commands little attention but goes about its business and lives a thousand years."


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