Margaritaville

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"Margaritaville"

Cover of the West German 7 " single[1]
Single by Jimmy Buffett
from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
B-side "Miss You So Badly"
Released February 14, 1977
Format 7"
Recorded November 1976 at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida and Quadrafonic Sound Studios in Nashville, Tennessee [2]
Genre Gulf and western, country rock
Length 3:20[3]
Label ABC
ABC-12254 (U.S., 7")
ABC-17781AT (West Germany, 7")
ABC-22039 (Italy, 7")
ABC-021254/2 (Spain, 7")
Writer(s) Jimmy Buffett
Producer(s) Norbert Putnam
Jimmy Buffett singles chronology
"Woman Goin' Crazy on Caroline Street"
(1976)
"Margaritaville"
(1977)
"Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes"
(1977)
Audio sample
file info · help
1977 Italian single picture sleeve
A margarita cocktail: the inspiration for "Margaritaville"

"Margaritaville" is a 1977 song by American popular music singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. This song was written about a drink Buffett discovered at Lung's Cocina del Sur restaurant on Anderson Lane in Austin, Texas, and the first huge surge of tourists who descended on Key West, Florida around that time; he wrote most of the song that night in Austin and finished it while spending time in Key West. In the United States "Margaritaville" reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and went to #1 on the Easy Listening chart,[4] also peaking at #13 on the Hot Country Songs chart.[5] It remains Buffett's highest charting solo single.

Named for the cocktail margarita, with lyrics reflecting a laid-back lifestyle in a tropical climate, "Margaritaville" has come to define Buffett's music and career. The relative importance of the song to Buffett's career is referred to obliquely in a parenthetical plural in the title of a Buffett greatest hits compilation album, Songs You Know By Heart: Jimmy Buffett's Greatest Hit(s). The name has been used in the title of other Buffett compilation albums such as Meet Me In Margaritaville: The Ultimate Collection and is also the name of several commercial products licensed by Buffett (see below). Popular culture references, throughout the years and remakes attest to the song's continuing popularity.

Song narrative[edit]

The first verse shows the singer's life for the previous season. In the second verse, a singer laid-back lives in a drunken haze in a beach community. "Margaritaville" is the mental state in which he exists during this period, induced by the perpetual imbibing of margaritas. This is best illustrated in the third and last verse, when the singer goes for a walk, cuts his heel and returns home to ease his pain with the eponymous alcoholic beverage. The singer is drowning his sorrows over a failed romance, and his friends are telling him that his former girlfriend is at fault. But in the respective last lines of the three successive choruses, over the course of the song we see the singer gradually confronting the fact that this emotional catastrophe was "his own damned fault."

Buffett revealed during the recording of an episode of CMT's Crossroads with the Zac Brown Band that "Margaritaville" was actually supposed to be performed by Elvis Presley, but Elvis died the year that the song was released. Buffett got to perform it instead.[6]

Lost verse[edit]

There is a "lost verse" to this song, as described by Buffett, which he often adds when performing in concert, which was reputedly edited out before recording the song in order to make the song more airplay-friendly. The song was shortened even further for the radio edit.

Old men in tank tops,
Cruisin' the gift shops,
Checkin' out chiquitas, down by the shore
They dream about weight loss,
Wish they could be their own boss
Those three-day vacations can be (or "become") such a bore

Lyric confusion[edit]

There is some confusion as to whether Buffett sings "Wasted away"[7] or "Wastin’ away" in the chorus of the song. The original unedited lyrics, that appear on the record sleeve to the Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes LP, read "Waistin'" [sic].[8] Also, most guitar tablature and sheet music read "Wastin'." Buffett has never made a statement on the issue. However, he has also been known to use "wasted" in some performances, as well as in the video game re-recording for Rock Band.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1977) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 8
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 13
Canadian RPM Top Singles 4
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 8
New Zealand Singles Chart 33

Other versions[edit]

Radio edit[edit]

A radio edit was released in 1977, timing at 3:20. The abridged version omits:

  • The interlude between the second chorus and third verse.
  • The section during the third chorus and final refrain "…woman to blame but I know, it's my own damn fault. Yes and, some people claim that there's a…" This makes the song structure riff-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-riff, as opposed to riff-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-interlude-verse-chorus-refrain-riff.
  • The track itself was sped up a half-step. The original recording of the key of D would be E-flat.

Cover versions[edit]

"Margaritaville"
Song by Alan Jackson with Jimmy Buffett from the album Under the Influence
Released October 26, 1999
Genre Country
Length 4:15
Label Arista Nashville
Writer Jimmy Buffett
Producer Keith Stegall
Under the Influence track listing
"Once You've Had the Best"
(11)
"Margaritaville"
(12)

American country singer Alan Jackson covered the song on his 1999 Under the Influence album. The cover featured Buffett singing along on the last verse; it also peaked at #63 after receiving play as an album cut. Professional wrestlers Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock sang the song together on the November 12, 2001 episode of RAW. Jimmy Buffett also re-recorded this song as well as "Cheeseburger in Paradise" and "Volcano" specifically for Rock Band as downloadable content.

Parodies[edit]

In 2006, Kenan Thompson did a parody of the song on a Weekend Update sketch on Saturday Night Live where he plays a soldier who found out he was going to the U.S.-Mexico border rather than Baghdad. When Amy Poehler asks him what his reaction was when he discovered he was going to the border, in the next shot, he has a Corona banner above him, a sombrero on his head. He is swaying a Corona beer bottle and singing, "Wasting away again not in Iraq." This was likely a parody on Mortaritaville, which was recorded around 2 years prior.[9] In the show Napoleon Dynamite, Kip mentions that the animatronics at Goof Nutz Pizza sing the song "Pizzaritaville."

Merchandising[edit]

As Buffett's best-known song, "Margaritaville" has been used in a number of commercial ventures and product licensing tie-ins including:

  • Radio Margaritaville, a radio station that broadcasts on the Internet and Sirius XM Radio
  • Tales from Margaritaville, a collection of short stories by Buffett
  • Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, a casual dining restaurant chain, tourist destination and chain of stores (shops) selling Buffett-themed franchise merchandise in Jamaica, Mexico and the U.S. In 1985, Buffett opened a "Margaritaville" restaurant in Key West, though his first was in Orange Beach, Alabama.
  • Margaritaville margarita mix (manufactured by Mott's)
  • Margaritaville tequila
  • Margaritaville bottled malt beverages
  • Margaritaville branded Landshark Lager
  • Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker
  • Margaritaville chips & salsa
  • Margaritaville chicken wings
  • Margaritaville frozen seafood
  • Margaritaville Soles of the Tropics footwear
  • Margaritaville men's & women's apparel
  • Margaritaville outdoor & beach furniture

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The U.S. single did not have a picture cover but was issued with a standard ABC Records cover.
  2. ^ Preshow Interview (at 3:45) confirms recording took place in November.
  3. ^ Song length time given is for the single version. Album version is 04:09.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 42. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 61. 
  6. ^ The Country Vibe News from TheCountryVibe.com
  7. ^ [The Parrot Head Handbook]
  8. ^ Vinyl sleeve with original lyrics
  9. ^ Retired Reservist: Mortaritaville - song from Iraq. Accessed on July 31 2008.

External links[edit]