Mac McAnally’s New Album Once in a Lifetime Out Today

Today, Mac McAnally—Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and ten-time CMA Musician of the Year, not to mention a tenured member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band—released his brand new full-length album, Once in a Lifetime, via Mailboat Records. Carefully crafted to reflect McAnally’s intimate live show, Once in a Lifetime ranges from creatively simple guitar and percussion arrangements to tastefully inflated full-band productions of some of McAnally’s finest material to date. Rolling Stone premiered the album’s title track which features new guard country singer/songwriter, Drake White, praising it as an “uplifting, authentic tune,” one which can be heard in heavy rotation on SiriusXM’s Margaritaville (Ch. 24). Fretboard Journal called McAnally “one of a kind” when they premiered the album’s stellar cover of The Beatles’ classic, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” and Wide Open Country shared some insight behind “Changing Channels,” a nautical-themed co-write with Jimmy Buffett. Once in a Lifetime is now available to purchase on CD or vinyl at McAnally’s online store and is available on all digital platforms.

Once in a Lifetime’s title track came about when McAnally and White saw each other at a local breakfast spot. When White asked if he was enjoying himself these days, McAnally said, “Yeah, every day. Every day is once in a lifetime.” White immediately replied, “We need to get together to write THAT!” Sometimes, McAnally’s songwriting spark is more subtle.

While participating in an art project—novels were given to songwriters and visual artists, who would then create a piece based on their response to the book—McAnally found himself immersed in Harrison Scott Key’s memoir, The World’s Largest Man. “The author came from the same part of the country as me and it woke up a bunch of stuff about my childhood—what it was like hanging with my dad, going to the drugstore, talking about football, politics, and religion,” he says. “That opened up that part of my brain that I haven’t been down into for a while.” Connecting his upbringing in Belmont, Mississippi, with the imagery from The World’s Largest Man led McAnally to write the swaggering, album-opening shuffle, “Alive and In Between.”

Songwriting, though, only fills half of McAnally’s plate. It’s his guitar playing and musicianship that makes Once in a Lifetime feel complete. “All the way back to the beginning, my songwriting has been built around my guitar playing because I’m not a very confident singer,” he says. “I was always trying to make a guitar part sound like a whole arrangement.” A vast majority of the album reflects McAnally’s approach; arrangements based around the guitar with percussion and few auxiliary instruments rounding out each tune. A few notable exceptions are “Just Right,” which was recorded with the Coral Reefer Band in Key West during time off from making a Jimmy Buffett record, and the barn-burning bluegrass feel of “Brand New Broken Heart”—neither of which feel out of place amongst McAnally’s wide-cast net of influences. “I’m interested in all kinds of music,” he says. “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.”

The thoughtful lyrics and arrangements Once in a Lifetime as a whole can perhaps be traced back to a phrase McAnally remembers from his childhood when his mother would tell him to “make some use of yourself” on his way out the door. McAnally still adheres to that philosophy today. Asked about the experience of listening to these assorted songs that have now become an album, he modestly replies, “I see a guy trying to be a good representation of a human being. I hope there’s something in what I do that in some way can make someone else’s life a little bit better, too. That’s really what I’m shooting for.”

Once in a Lifetime Track Listing:
Alive and In Between (Mac McAnally)
Almost All Good (Mac McAnally)
Once in a Lifetime feat. Drake White (Drake White and Mac McAnally)
First Sign of Trouble (Mac McAnally)
That’s Why They Call It Falling (Mac McAnally)
Changing Channels (Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally)
Just Right (Will Kimbrough, Mac McAnally)
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) ( John Lennon and Paul McCartney)
Good Guys Win (Roger Guth, Mac McAnally)
Just Like It Matters (Mac McAnally)
Brand New Broken Heart (Mac McAnally)
The Better Part of Living (Mac McAnally)