Margaritaville

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“Margaritaville” is a 1977 song by American popular music singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett from the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. He wrote it in Key West, Florida after touring Texas with his group, the Coral Reefer Band.

The song was a chart hit in the United States when it was released and contemporary popular culture references and remakes attest to its continuing popularity. It reached #8 on Billboard Hot 100 chart, topped the Easy Listening (Adult Contemporary) chart at #1, and peaked at #13 on the Hot Country Songs chart. It remains Buffett’s highest charting solo single.

Named for a cocktail, the margarita, and 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).

Song narrative

The song is a narrative overview of the singer’s life for the previous season. He sings about laid-back living in a drunken haze in a beach community. “Margaritaville” is the mental state in which he exists during this period, induced—presumably—from the perpetual imbibing of margaritas. This is best illustrated in the 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 says that some friends surmise that he is reeling from a failed romance.

Lost verse

There is also a “lost verse” to this song, as described by Buffett, which he often adds when performing in concert, which was reputedly edited out before the record was released in order to make the song more airplay-friendly.

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 such a bore

Lyric confusion

There is some confusion as to whether Buffett sings “Wasted away” 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]. Also, most guitar tablature and sheet music read “wastin’”. Buffett has never made a statement on the issue. Rock Band’s song lyrics list “Wasted” as the correct words, being as Buffett re-recorded the song for Rock Band its possible this is the actual lyric.

Other versions

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, oppose 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

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.

Parodies

Comedian Mark Eddie and Barenaked Ladies have both parodied this song as “Marijuanaville”: Eddie on his 1995 album Rock-N-Roll Comedy Cuts (MP3) and BNL while live on tour. 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 and not 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 in not-Iraq”.

Camp Anaconda/Balad Air Base, an American military base in Iraq, has been dubbed “Mortaritaville” (a portmanteau of mortar and Margaritaville) due to the large numbers of mortar attacks it receives from Iraqi insurgents.

The Swarthmore College chapter of the Delta Upsilon social fraternity holds an annual all campus party in honor of “Margaritaville” with emphasis on the carefree and laid back attitude that has made the song famous.

In the Broken Lizard film Club Dread, a main character insists that “Margaritaville” was an illicit imitation of his own song “Pina Coladaburg.”

The password for Internet access on the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is “Margaritaville” (fictional use).

On June 3, 2008, Margaritaville and two other Jimmy Buffett songs were be released as downloadable content on the video game Rock Band. These songs were re-recorded for the game.

Merchandising

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

* Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, a casual dining restaurant chain, tourist destination and chain of stores (shops) selling Buffett-themed franchise merchandise in Jamaica and the U.S.
* Margaritaville frozen seafood
* Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker
* Margaritaville Chicken Wings
* Margaritaville margarita mix (manufactured by Mott’s)
* Margaritaville tequila
* Radio Margaritaville, a radio station that broadcasts on the Internet and Sirius Satellite Radio.
* Margaritaville Soles of the Tropics Footwear

-adapted from Wikipedia

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