"The ocean has always been his muse and for him to grace us on this project has been amazing," EYB's James Young tells PEOPLE

By Tomás Mier
Updated August 21, 2020 04:40 PM
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The Eli Young Band always thought their 2016 single "Saltwater Gospel" felt like a Jimmy Buffett-inspired track. Three years later, Buffett is singing it alongside them!

On Friday, the country band — comprising Mike Eli, James Young, Jon Jones and Chris Thompson — dropped the "Fins Up" version of "Saltwater Gospel," featuring a verse from Buffett himself.

"To have Jimmy Buffett now sing on it was just surreal," Young tells PEOPLE exclusively. "The ocean has always been his muse and for him to grace us on this project has been amazing. When I heard him tag 'A Pirate Looks at 40' at the end, it raised the hairs on my arm. "

Buffett, 73, loved the song since it first came out — and when asked to join the track, he agreed without hesitation.

Jimmy Buffett and Eli Young Band
Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty; Roy Rochlin/Getty

"When (producer and collaborator) Mac McAnally called me a few weeks ago and said there was an idea for me to sing with the Eli Young Band, I said yes immediately," Buffett said. "I love the band. I love the fact that they have great roots in Denton, Texas and [University of North Texas] and I can't wait to get on the road one day and play it with them."

To celebrate the release of the track, Buffett joined the band for a Zoom call conversation shared on Facebook Live Thursday night.

"What a humble, down-to-earth and kind guy!" Young said. "Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be sitting in my living room chatting it up with Jimmy Buffett. I was a little nervous to be honest, because we are all big fans."

The band premiered the original music video for "Saltwater Gospel" with PEOPLE in 2016 and chatted about their album Fingerprints' lead single.

“We knew this wasn't your everyday kind of beach song, which is why we had to find a beach that wasn't your everyday kind of beach,” Eli told PEOPLE of filming the original video. "[It's] about so much more than just saltwater."

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This isn't the first time that Buffett collaborates with a country artist. He sang his hit "It's Five O' Clock Somewhere" with Alan Jackson in 2003 and later welcomed Martina McBride on his "Trip Around the Sun" and Toby Keith on "Too Drunk to Karaoke." The Zac Brown Band also welcomed Buffett on their own track "Knee Deep."

"Saltwater Gospel - Fins Up Version" featuring Jimmy Buffett is out now.