Jimmy Buffett’s songs you knew by heart

Jimmy Buffett’s laid-back style earned him the nickname “rock’s romantic poet-pirate” by Rolling Stone.

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Buffett, who died Friday at the age of 76, sold more than 20 million albums during his career and wrote songs that his ardent followers, known as “Parrot Heads,” knew by heart. That inspired the title of Buffett’s first greatest hits album in 1985, “Songs You Know by Heart: Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hit(s).”

The parenthetical aside in the title was a reference to “Margaritaville,” the song that was the singer’s greatest commercial success. Buffett was a prolific writer, releasing 30 records, 17 of which went platinum or gold, Rolling Stone reported. A true road warrior with the Coral Reefer Band, Buffett’s good-time lyrics, beach-bum persona and calypso music made him a fan favorite.

Buffett called his brand of music “drunken Caribbean rock ‘n’ roll,” NBC News reported.

Here are 10 notable songs by Buffett:

Margaritaville (1977)

A karaoke favorite from the album “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” “Margaritaville” spent 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the Miami Herald reported. The song peaked at No. 8 and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.

Buffett struck a chord with people looking for escapism as they grew older but never grew up, the Herald reported. Like him, they were “Wasted away again in Margaritaville,” and “looking for my lost shaker of salt.”

Buffett, a savvy businessman, took the fame of his signature hit and parlayed it into the Margaritaville restaurant and hotel chains that first opened in 1985, The New York Times reported.

“No disrespect, but I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t sing along to this song,” one person wrote under one of the many YouTube versions of the song.

Come Monday (1974)

At concerts, Buffett always referred to “Come Monday” as “the song that paid the bills” early in his career.

The 1974 song, from the “Living and Dying in 3/4 Time” album, is a heartfelt ballad about missing a loved one while wrestling with fame.

It was Buffett’s first commercial hit.

Only this time, come Monday, it won’t be all right.

Cheeseburger in Paradise (1978)

OK, this is a snarky one, but only Buffett could pull off a good-timey song about eating a cheeseburger. From the “Son of a Son of a Sailor” album in 1978, it is a great singalong song.

Buffett laments about the old-time sailors whose diet of “warm beer and bread” could “raise the dead,” but it only reminds him of “a menu at a Holiday Inn.”

Then there is that fast-food hook: “I like mine with lettuce and tomato/Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes.

“Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer/Well, good God Almighty, which way do I steer?”

Havana Daydreamin’ (1976)

The title track from Buffett’s fifth album. The protagonist is a drug dealer, but a careful one. He makes some good money but is smart enough to get out of the business before he gets caught by the feds.

“Havana daydreamin’/Boy, he’s just schemin’ his life away,” Buffett sings.

Fins (1979)

“Fins,” from the “Volcano” album, is Buffett’s milder -- and less tragic -- version of “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.” A sweet girl from Cincinnati comes to an unnamed Florida city -- Key West, perhaps -- and suddenly finds herself confronted by “sharks” -- males on the prowl.

There are fins to the left and fins to the right, and she is “the only bait in town.”

God’s Own Drunk (1974)

From “Living and Dying in 3/4 Time,” “God’s Own Drunk” was a six-minute story about a man who caved in to temptation while minding his brother’s still. And then having a standoff with a bear that ended with the beast “downing eight of them” drinks, which inspired him to do the bear dance -- “Two snips, a snort, a fly turn, and a grunt.”

And Buffett was not scared, because “I was God’s own drunk and a fearless man.”

The song is a cover of a monologue by Lord Buckley from 1959.

Why Don’t We Get Drunk (1973)

From “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean,” “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” is a plaintive singalong with lyrics that probably resonate with college boys trying to become men during the 1970s.

It symbolizes the hazy, squinty-eyed view of beer-induced bravado (”So barmaid, bring a pitcher/another round of brew) that was not going to end well.

A Pirate Looks at Forty (1975)

From the “A1A” album, Buffett writes about Phil Clark, a modern-day pirate, smuggler, drug runner and adventure-seeker.

Buffett used his conversations with Clark at a Key West bar. At the time, Clark was approaching 40 and was not sure that his on-the-edge lifestyle would be around much longer.

Buffett’s autobiography is titled “A Pirate Looks at Fifty.”


The Great Filling Station Holdup (1973)

From “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean,” Buffett tells the tale of a gas station robbery that went south in a hurry. They were wanted men and would strike again, “but first let’s have a beer.”

Bad move. The law caught up to the would-be robbers.

Buffett, narrating from his jail cell, laments that “Now I wish I was somewhere other than here,” because that holdup “cost him two good years.” The song has a bouncy country flavor to it.

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes (1977)

The title track from Buffett’s breakthrough album. Buffett looks back at his life and wonders aloud where all of the places and faces he’d seen over the past year had disappeared to.

But after he runs into “a chum with a bottle of rum,” the point was moot.

And Buffett realizes that “If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”