I find Peter Buffett rather fascinating, probably at least partially because I had no idea who he was when I first heard his music. I just spotted a copy of his 2007 album Staring at the Sun in a Wherehouse Music bargain bin (sorry, Peter), I thought the cover looked cool, and the price was sufficiently right for me to say, “What the heck, I’ll give it a shot.”
Let me just tell you, there haven’t been many times when I’ve felt better about investing [PRICE REDACTED FOR POLITENESS’ SAKE] on a completely unheard CD: when I popped it in and listened to the first track, “Reminder,” Buffett’s vocals immediately reminded me of Eric Woolfson, best known for his work with The Alan Parsons Project.
Go on, give it a listen. I’m pretty sure it’s not just me who hears the similarity.
It wasn’t until after I’d fallen for that song, however, that I hit the ‘net to find out more about this Peter Buffett character, only to be somewhat startled to learn that not only had Peter actually been releasing music for two decades at that point – his debut album, The Waiting, came out on Narada in 1987 – but he was the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Peter’s earliest music was predominantly of the new-age instrumental variety, which may have been telegraphed when I identified the label that released The Waiting, and I would eventually discover that Staring at the Sun was only the second album he’d ever released with vocals. He’d found enough success without bringing his voice into the proceedings, however, that you can’t blame him for not rushing to sing his heart out: he scored the “Fire Dance” scene in Dances with Wolves, contributed to the soundtrack of The Scarlet Letter, and – keeping the Kevin Costner connection going – he provided the score for the CBS miniseries 500 Nations, which Costner produced. If you’re a PBS fan, then it’s also worth noting that he provided the music for the acclaimed special Spirit – A Journey in Dance Drums and Song, which aired in 1999.
After Peter released Gold Star, he clearly began to enjoy the opportunity to croon on his tunes: Staring at the Sun emerged the following year, of course, but then Imaginary Kingdom showed up the year after that. His fourth full-length release, Running Blind, wouldn’t turn up until 2011, but don’t start accusing him of slacking off during the three-year interim between those last two albums: in fact, Running Blind is actually a compilation of digital singles that he’d been releasing exclusively through Ning throughout 2009 and 2010.
Peter has continued to release singles on a regular basis ever since, and while most of them have been originals, he’s occasionally thrown in a cover song. Although they generally tend to be instantly recognizable songs in their own right, I have to give the guy credit: he does a damned fine job of making them his own, as he did here with one of R.E.M.’s signature songs.
Man, this has become my longest 366 in 2016 piece to date, which was not my intent going in, but I guess I just felt like Peter warranted a little bit of additional hype. Still, I need to wrap this up, so I’ll do so with the song I’m actually spotlighting.
“Anything” made its debut on the aforementioned Staring at the Sun, and it was a strong song in that form, but it got even better in 2008 when Peter issued a new version which featured Akon contributing vocals and additional production. The two gentlemen didn’t just limit their collaboration to that one track – when you’ve got a few extra minutes, you might also want to check out their song “Blood Into Gold” – but I’m probably most partial to “Anything.” You can blame that on Staring at the Sun being my gateway drug into Peter’s music, I suppose, but I think it’s most likely just because it’s really, really good.