The story and meaning behind Jimmy Buffett's infamous 'Margaritaville'
Jimmy Buffett/YouTube

It's a song that probably calls to mind time with friends, nights at the bar, and maybe even a summer tailgate at a Jimmy Buffett concert--"Margaritaville" remains Buffett's most famous song, as well as his most lucrative, decades after the song was written.

Buffett started writing the song on tour after a night out in Austin at a Mexican restaurant drinking--what else?--margaritas with a friend. He ultimately finished it at home in Key West, Florida, and recorded it in Miami for the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. The setting was all too appropriate for the song's tropical, beachy sound.

"It was a hot day and I had a couple of margaritas," Buffett recently recounted to Rolling Stone. "I was a bit hung over, but I started writing the song on my guitar case at the Austin airport. It was written in five minutes. I wasn’t wasting away–I was working my ass off. I thought, 'This is a pretty good song.'"

And Buffett was right. "Margaritaville" became his only Top 10 hit, peaking at the charts at #8, but its legacy lives on, and not just on the radio or at parties and concerts.

"Since I wrote the song 40 years ago, 'Margaritaville' has affected just about everything we’ve done," Buffett once said. "From getting me on the radio first, to the evolution of the brand in so many areas that we couldn’t possibly conceive of in the beginning."

The song has won its share of awards, including a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame, and helped spawn the jukebox Broadway musical "Escape to Margaritaville." Some have also tried to turn it into TV shows and movies. "Margaritaville" even spawned a million-dollar business empire--Buffett owns a chain of businesses named after the song, which started in Key West and now include ever-expanding resorts, casinos, restaurants and even an upcoming adult-living community, not to mention all the merchandise from beach apparel to a frozen-margarita blender, all making for the ultimate ode to relaxation and temporary escape to paradise. Because after all, it's 5 o'clock somewhere.

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