Jimmy Buffett and “Bloodline” actor Enrique Murciano were hanging out in their boat anchored in Honeymoon Harbour in Gun Cay, Bahamas, waiting for a commercial stone crab boat to show up.
As is common with the South Florida songwriter, an idea for a song — and now a new lyric video the Miami Herald is premiering — was born.
“As sunset approached I asked Enrique what time were they supposed to show up,” Buffett writes in the lyric book accompanying his new album, “Life on the Flip Side.”
“He answered, ‘15 Cuban minutes — could be that or an hour or a day.’ I took that line, ran with it, and worked months on the song. Then I met Enrique in New Orleans this past Mardi Gras, where he taught me some of the Cuban Spanish chant I had heard on the Malecón, and wanted for part of the song,” Buffett, 73, wrote.
The chant in question will be familiar to any Spanish speaker who ever got a boo boo as a child. (“Heal, heal, frog tail. If you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow.”)
Sana, sana colito de rana/
Si, no sanas hoy/
Bueno sana mañana/
Lo que dice Havana/
Si, no paso hoy/
The ‘15 Cuban Minutes” clip is a colorful, illustrated lyric video with images of what appears to be Ocean Drive and Cuba. Look at the beginning and toward the end and you can spot Buffett shaking the maracas and Murciano, who plays Det. Marco Diaz on the Key West-set Netflix drama “Bloodline,” singing the “sana sana” part.
Buffett’s Cuban connection
Buffett wrote the infectious song with his longtime musical partner Michael Utley and Murciano contributed the title phrase and the Spanish translations. Murciano, 43, born in Miami and of Cuban descent, sings the “sana sana” part of the hook in the song and in the video.
‘15 Cuban Minutes’ was a long time coming, said the songwriter who wrote “Havana Daydreaming” 45 years ago.
His grandfather, Buffett wrote, was a sailing ship captain and Havana was a port of call, “where on the occasion of my dad’s first birthday, all the ships in the harbor flew their signal flags in salute. In my early days in Key West, many of the characters I ran into had stories of the ‘old’ days in Havana. That only made me want to go there.”
Buffett has had many opportunities to heed the call — the most recent in 2016 when he performed along the Malecón for U.S. Embassy personnel and Marine security guards after the Tampa Bay Rays-Cuban All-Stars baseball game and before boarding a bus for the Rolling Stones’ concert at the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana in Cuba in March 2016.
Fitting into the coronavirus
Buffett recorded ‘15 Cuban Minutes’ and the other 13 songs for his 28th studio album, “Life on the Flip Side,” in January at his Key West studio, Shrimpboat Sound Studios, before the coronavirus locked the world down.
While many artists, including the Dixie Chicks, Weezer and Lady Gaga, delayed their new releases due to the pandemic, Buffett is going ahead with the May 29 release. He’s also donated proceeds from pre-order bundles to COVID-19 research.
“The world took a catastrophic meteor-like hit from a virus you can’t see without a microscope,” Buffett writes in the CD’s booklet. “Suddenly we were all hurled into survival mode that almost feels like science fiction, except for the fact that we are living it, in real time. Hopefully, the songs we wrote and recorded, will also help folks deal with the fallout.”