As a longtime member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band and a 10-time CMA Musician of the Year award winner, it’s safe to assume Mac McAnally knows the value of perseverance and the importance of motivation. It’s also abundantly clear in the inspirational title cut of his forthcoming album, Once in a Lifetime, that’s he’s embraced the notion of treating each day — and each experience — as a gift. The uplifting, anthemic tune, which features co-writer Drake White sharing vocal duties with McAnally, was inspired by a conversation the pair had when they bumped into each other at a breakfast spot.
“I’ve always tried to make the most of every day and be grateful at the same time,” McAnally tells Rolling Stone Country. “A lot of my music consists of things to remind me what’s important. The first line of the chorus, ‘Every day is once in a lifetime,’ just rolled off my tongue in conversation. [Drake said], ‘That’s a song we should write!’ I’m so happy we did and happy also to have a positive message in this uncertain piece of time.”
“To work with Mac is to work with a master,” White says. “He’s one of those people that everything he says could go in a TED talk. Our song is extremely special to me because it’s truly how I try to live my life and is such a great reminder to keep it light and happy because tomorrow is not promised to us.”
McAnally, whose previous LP Southbound re-imagined several of his best-known songs in orchestral settings, gleaned inspiration for Once in a Lifetime’s swaggering opening cut “Alive and in Between” from an art project in which novels were given to songwriters and visual artists, who would then create a piece based on their response to the book. After reading Harrison Scott Key’s memoir The World’s Largest Man, the Belmont, Mississippi, native found himself revisiting vignettes from his own childhood, including enlightening conversations with his father about football, politics, and religion.
While much of Once in a Lifetime boasts an intimate setup built around guitar and percussion, echoing McAnally’s live performances, one exception is “Just Right,” which was recorded with the Coral Reefer Band in Key West during time off from making a Buffett record. “There’s obviously some Buffett influence on a few of the things and I’ve been playing country music and gospel music all my life, so there’s that influence, too,” McAnally says.
Once in a Lifetime will be released July 31st on Mailboat Records.
Once in a Lifetime track listing:
- “Alive and in Between”
- “Almost All Good”
- “Once in a Lifetime” feat. Drake White
- “First Sign of Trouble”
- “That’s Why They Call It Falling”
- “Changing Channels”
- “Just Right”
- “Norwegian Wood”
- “Good Guys Win”
- “Just Like It Matters”
- “Brand New Broken Heart”
- “The Better Part of Living”