As noted in my list of songs representing "Education Abroad in Popular Music", Jimmy Buffett has so many songs with references to travel or geographical locations that I felt he deserved a separate listing of his own. I'm not the first to make that connection. At one time, Dr. William V. Davidson, chairman of the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, taught a course called "Geography, based on Jimmy Buffett's Songs." That inspired me to teach my own course, "From Mobile to Margaritaville: Human Geography in the Music and Fiction of Jimmy Buffett," which I taught in January terms 2012 and 2013 at Luther College.
If you're not familiar with his music, please read the following before you start recommending him to your students (who are probably already aware of much of his music). There is often a fine line between living your life to the full and savoring every minute of it on the one hand, and loosely bridled hedonism on the other. Jimmy Buffett's music often stradles that line fairly evenly. If you're offended by references to alcohol and its consumption, then you won't like many of his songs. In many cases, sensitive insights about life come with a "rum chaser."
Just reading his lyrics does not really give an accurate picture of what his music is really like. In addition to having some very creative, as well as often sensitive, lyrics, his music is a great mix of Caribbean sounds with a dash of rock, as well as a little "country," thrown in for good measure. As he describes it himself, "I've got a Caribbean soul I can barely control,/and some Texas hidden deep in my heart." If you want to know a little more about him and his music, a good place to start might be my own "Parrothead Connection," which has links to a number of other sites, including the "official" Margaritaville page.
If you have any questions or comments about this list, please don't hesitate to contact me by e-mail.
In the following list, songs are arranged by title, album (with abbreviations as noted in the table below), and sample lyrics. The hyperlinks for album titles are to the "Margaritaville" site's Discography link. For the the lyrics to the individual songs on an album, click on the link for each title. Unless otherwise noted, the composer for each song is Jimmy Buffett.
|A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean||AWSCAAPC|
|Beach House on the Moon||BHOTM|
|Changes in Latitudes,|
Changes in Attitudes
|Far Side of the World||Far Side|
|High Cumberland Jubilee||HCJ|
|Last Mango in Paris||LMIP|
|Licence to Chill||LTC|
|Living and Dying in 3/4 Time||LADI3/4T|
|Off to See the Lizard||OTSTL|
|One Particular Harbour||OPH|
|Somewhere over China||SOC|
|Son of a Son of a Sailor||SOASOAS|
|Take the Weather With You||TTWWY|
"Disembarking at Duvalier Airport |
Seeking transportation to town
As the purple ink dried on his passport
He could still feel the eyes look around ...
Business in Aruba concluded
He now had a little money to spend
That's how I came to meet my African friend"
|By Steve Goodman, Jim Rothermel|
and Steve Burgh
"Down to the Banana Republics, |
down to the tropical sun
Go the expatriated Americans,
hopin' to find some fun"
|By Jimmy Buffett, Russ Kunkel, |
Jay Oliver, Roger Guth,
and Peter Mayer
"Follow in my wake |
You've not that much at stake
For I have plowed the seas
And smoothed the troubled waters
Come along let's have some fun
The hard work has been done
We'll barrel roll into the sun
Just for starters"
|Beach House on the Moon|
"Past the falls they call Victoria |
down the river named the Nile
drifts a tiny little handmade boat
it's shaped just like a smile"
|Beyond the End|
|By Jimmy Buffett, Marshall Chapman,|
and Will Jennings
"Mayan moon was burnin' |
We saw visions
Of the past returnin'
On the shore
The band was playin'
We all heard
What the moon was sayin'"
"Lately, newspaper mentioned cheap air fare |
I gotta to fly to Saint Somewhere
I'm close to bodily harm"
|Boats To Build (with Alan Jackson)|
|by Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson|
"It's time for a change |
I'm tired of that same ol' same
The same ol' words the same ol' lines
The same ol' tricks and the same ol' rhymes
Days precious days
I'm gonna build me a boat
|The Captain and the Kid|
"I never used to miss the chance|
to climb up on his knee
And listen to the many tales
of life upon the sea
We'd go sailing back on Barkentines
we'd talk of things he did
Tomorrow just a day away
for the Captain and the kid"
|Changes in Latitudes|
"Reading departure signs in some big airport |
Reminds me of the places I've been
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again . . .
These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands
If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane"
|By Jimmy Buffett and Mac McAnally|
"Survivors of tidal waves |
Children of former slaves
Strange how they all behave
Like it's another world
There's an island in the ocean
|Christmas in the Caribbean|
|By Jimmy Buffett, Michael Utley,|
Will Jennings, Marshall Chapman,
and Diana Haig
"It's Christmas in the Caribbean |
Snowbirds fill the air
It's Christmas in the Caribbean
Lots of presents everywhere
We don't live in a hurry
Send away for mistletoe
It's Christmas in the Caribbean
Got everything but snow"
|Cinco De Mayo In Memphis|
|By Guy Clark and Chuck Mead|
"Meanwhile down on Beale Street|
Drinkin' in a Beale Street Bar
There's a fog rollin' off the Mississippi
Has anybody seen Arkansas
The deckhands from the towboats
|Coast of Marseilles|
|By Keith Sykes SOASOAS||
"I sat there on the coast of Marseilles |
My thoughts came by like wind through my hand
How good it'd be to feel you again
How good it'd be to feel that way again"
"Tuesday on the island |
Not much goin' on
The parties are all over
They ended just past dawn
The jungle drums are beating
With the tales from late last night
'Cause stories bear repeating
For everyone's delight"
"Headin' up to San Francisco |
For the Labor Day week-end show
I've got my hush-puppies on
I guess I never was meant for glitter rock and roll
And honey I didn't know
That I'd be missin' you so
Come Monday, it'll be all right
Come Monday, I'll be holdin' you tight
I spent four lonely days in a brown L. A. haze
And I just want you back by my side"
|Cowboy In The Jungle|
"There's a cowboy in the jungle |
And he looks so out of place
With his shrimpskin boots and his cheap cheroots
And his skin as white as paste
Headin' south to Paraguay
Where the Gauchos sing and shout
Now he's stuck in Porto Bello
Since his money all ran out"
|Cuban Crime of Passion|
|By Jimmy Buffett and Tom Corcoran |
"Well now Billy Voltaire was a piano player |
up from Miami way
He used to play in the bars,
he could sound like the stars
Ladies would pay and pay
One night he did wind up
playin' in Havana town
Nobody knew, least Billy Voltaire
that these were his final sounds"
|Desperation Samba (Halloween In Tijuana)|
|By Jimmy Buffett, Will Jennings,|
and Timothy B. Schmit
" Halloween in Tijuana |
Full moon in my eyes
I wonder how in the hell I got here
Without a disguise
Should I take this last step
Or turn myself around
Or follow my intuition into that border town"
|Distantly in Love|
"Tried to phone from Paris|
thinking things could be arranged
Me and you would rendezvous
but I found your number changed
So I drove to San Remo
where the crazy painter dwells
Toasted our old photograph
still up there on his shelf"
|Duke's On Sunday|
|By Henry Kapono Ka'aihue|
"People in here from all over the world|
Men women little boys and girls
Gather round by the seaside
Beach party tropic style
Diamondhead and palm trees
Surf riders on the sea
This is the place to be
Oh this is the place to be
On the beach at Waikiki
Duke's on Sunday"
|By Jimmy Buffett and Buzz Cason|
"Somebody told me the last word |
they heard her say was England
Somebody said that she mentioned
the airline and the fare
Now I wonder if's she's there
Jolly good show
My woman's gone to England"
|Everybody's Got a Cousin in Miami|
|By Jimmy Buffett and Michael Tschudin|
"Everybody's got a cousin in Miami |
Everybody understands the impromptu
Dancing in the heat to the beat
That turns your clothing clammy
Everybody needs to have a dream come true"
|Far Side of the World|
"Following my song line|
Past bamboo shacks and shops
Behind a jitney packed like sardines,
With bananas piled on top.
I ran away from politics,
|By Jimmy Buffett, Deborah McColl, |
Barry Chance, and Tom Corcoran
"She came down from Cincinnati|
It took her three days on the train
Lookin' for some peace and quiet
Hoped to see the sun again
. . .
She's saving up all of her money
Wants to head it south in May
Maybe roll in the sand with a rock 'n' roll man
Somewhere down Montserrat way"
"So I'll just cruise on my landing gear |
And taxi 'round Rio town
Up to the mountain, down to the sea
Take me to Leblon where the samba queen a-waits for me"
|Frenchman for the Night|
"Blame it on the Champs Elysees |
Blame it on a tune
Blame it on the stroke of Monet
But you can't escape the moon
You can't escape the moon.
He sees the stars above
As the floor to heavens light
While the angels taunt
C'est une nuit blanche
He's a frenchman for the night"
"Stashed his trash in Ecuador |
Bought a good suit of clothes
Flew on up to Mexico
Standin' by the shore"
|He Went to Paris|
"He went to Paris lookin' for answers |
To questions that bothered him so
He was impressive, young and aggressive
Savin' the world on his own
But the warm summer breezes
|I Have Found Me a Home|
"Yes I have found me a home |
I have found me a home
You can have the rest of everything I own
'Cause I have found me a home
And the days drift by
They don't have names
And none of the streets here look the same
There aren't many reasons I would leave
'Cause I have found me some peace"
|I Wish Lunch Could Last Forever|
|By Jimmy Buffett and Jay Oliver|
"I wish lunch could last forever |
Make the whole day on big afternoon
We'll begin with dessert a little coconut tart
Tastes as sweet as a piece of your heart
Cafe au lait beneath the Paris moon"
|By Jimmy Buffett, Deborah McColl|
and M.L. Benoit
"Travis McGee's still in Cedar Key |
That's what ol' John MacDonald said
My rendezvous's so long overdue
With all of the things I've sung and I've read
They still apply to me
They all make sense in time"
"Island I see you in the moonlight |
Silhouettes of ships in the night
Just make me want that much more
Island I see you in all of my dreams
Maybe someday I'll have the means to reach your distant shores"
Safety and Liability?
(Written after Jamaican officials|
shot at his plane, mistaking it
for a drug smuggler)
Back to Jamaica
Don't you know we made a big mistaica
We'd be so sad if you told us goodbye
And we promise not to shoot you out of the sky"
"Sound of the low tide |
The smell of the rain
On my boat and my plane
Take it all in
It's as big as it seems
Count all your blessings
Remember your dreams"
|King of Somewhere Hot|
|By Jimmy Buffett, Ralph MacDonald,|
William Salter and Robert Greenidge
I've travelled all around the world |
And there are places that still stand out to me
None can really quite compare
To my island in the sea
My personal utopia
A place to run to where I can hide away
Where I can truly reign supreme
Somewhere fresh and clean where a man can dream"
|L'air de la Louisiane|
|By Jesse Winchester|
|"A walk in the woods of old Louisiana|
the shadows are long
Our steps are silent in the Louisiana air
You and I say nothing as we suck sugar cane
For one minute I'm happy in the Louisiana air"
"Sail away, for a month at a time |
Sail away, I've got to restart my mind
And you'll find me back at it again"
|Last Mango in Paris|
"He said 'I ate the last mango in Paris |
Took the last plane out of Saigon
Took the first fast boat to China
And Jimmy there's still so much to be done.'"
"My garden is filled with papayas and mangos |
My life is a mixture of reggaes and tangos
Taste for the good life
I can't live it no other way
While out on the beach there are two empty chairs
That say more than the people who ever sit there
From under my lone palm
I can look out on the day"
|By Johnathan Baham|
"It's been a lovely cruise |
I'm sorry it's ending, oh it's sad, but it's true
Honey, it's been a lovely cruise"
"Called all my friends on those cheap nightly rates |
Sure was good to talk to the old United States
While the lights of St. Thomas lie twenty miles west
I see General Electric's still doing their best"
"Well now if I ever live to be an old man |
I'm gonna sail down to Martinique
I'm gonna buy me a sweat-stained Bogart suit
And an African parakeet"
The anthem of everyone wanting to spend|
their time away from their day-to-day world,
and instead of working,
"Wastin' away again in Margaritaville
|Meet me in Memphis|
|By Jimmy Buffett and Michael Utley|
"He's holed up down on Ramrod Key in the Tavenier Hotel |
Livin' out his loneliness like an oyster in a shell"
|The Night I Painted the Sky|
Setting off fireworks on |
the Fourth of July in St. Martin:
" The rockets in the air
And the people everywhere
Put away their differences for a while"
|No Plane on Sunday|
|By Jimmy Buffett and Michael Utley|
"You can throw your luggage down |
Lose your cool and stomp around
But there's nothin', nothin' you can do
Wipe away your girlfriend's tears
Go to the bar and have some beers
There ain't no way that bird's gettin' through
No plane on Sunday
Maybe be one come Monday
Just a hopeless situation
Make the best of it's all you can do"
|One Particular Harbour|
|By Jimmy Buffett and Bobby Holcomb|
" I know I don't get there often enough |
But God knows I surely try
It's a magic kind of medicine
That no doctor could prescribe ...
But there's this one particular harbour
So far but yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear"
|Party At The End of the World|
|By Jimmy Buffett, Peter Mayer,|
Roger Guth, and Will Kimbrough
"There's a place you can go, called Tierra Del Fuego |
Down in the Southern Hemisphere
It's kind of Troy without Helen, past the straits of Magellan
And things are always lookin' up down here
There's a party at the end of the world
|A Pirate Looks at Forty|
"Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call |
Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall
You've seen it all, you've seen it all"
|By Jimmy Buffett and Jerry Jeff Walker|
"South Station in Boston |
to the freight yards of Austin
From the Florida sunshine
to the New Orleans rain"
Based on a character in
Travelling the Equator:
"Sinner on the mainland
|Son Of A Son Of A Sailor|
"As the son of a son of a sailor |
I went out on the sea for adventure
Expanding the view of the captain and crew
Like a man just released from indenture
As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin' man
I have chalked up many a mile
Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks
And I learned much from both of their styles "
|Somewhere over China|
"Just a semi-normal person |
Thought he had the future planned
Then he won some silly sweepstakes
Now he had a hundred grand
Never stopped to think of taxes
He was gone before they knew
With a flair for ol' romantics
To the Orient he flew"
|By John Scott Sherrill |
"I remember that steamer |
Time you set sail
The crowd was steamin'
Streamin' and leanin' on the rail"
|Stories We Could Tell|
|By John B. Sebastian|
"Talkin' to myself again|
Wonderin' if this travellin' is good
Is there somethin' else a' doin'
We'd be doin' if we could"
|Take Another Road|
|By Jimmy Buffett, Jay Oliver,|
and Roger Guth
"Follow the equator, like that old articulator |
Sail upon the ocean just like Mr. Twain
Never look back, this is my plan
Run my pony through the sand
"I must look a mess I must admit |
But I have been travelling quite a bit
South of the Border"
|That's What Living is to Me|
Based on Mark Twain's dedication|
on the title page of Following the Equator
"Be good, and you will be lonely."
"Jason Mason hears the sound
Be good and you will be lonesome
On a timeless beach in Hispaniola
|Tin Cup Chalice|
"I wanna back to the island |
Where the shrimp boats tie up to the pilin'"
|Tonight I Just Need My Guitar|
|By Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally|
Sometimes more than others|
You see who and what and where
I'm a one-man band with no
Tonight I just need my guitar
|Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season|
"Well the wind is blowin' harder now |
Fifty knots or thereabouts
There's white caps on the ocean
And I'm watchin' for waterspouts
It's time to close the shutters
It's time to go inside
In a week I'll be in gay Paris
That's a mighty long airplane ride"
|By Jimmy Buffett, Keith Sykes |
& Harry Dailey
"I don't know |
I don't know
I don't know where I'm a gonna go
When the volcano blow"
|The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful|
"The weather is here I wish you were beautiful |
The skies are too clear life's so easy today
The beer is too cold, the daiquiri's too fruitiful
No place like home when you're this far away
I don't care what they say"
|Weather With You|
|By Neal Finn and Tim Finn|
"Everywhere you go|
You always take the weather with you
Everywhere you go
You always take the Weather"
|Window On The World|
|by John Hiatt
"A broken promise I kept too long |
A greasy shade and a curtain drawn
A broken glass and a heart gone wrong
That's my window on the world.
A cup of coffee in a shaky hand
|Wonder Why We Ever Go Home|
"Years grow shorter, not longer |
The more you've been on your own
Feelin's for movin' grow stronger
So you wonder why you ever go home
Wonder why you ever go home"
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