March 21.2014 – The Story Behind “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett

Hear the story here!

In 2003, ‘It’s Five O’clock Somewhere‘ became a career song for not only Alan Jackson, but also for his collaborator Jimmy Buffett. The song was named the Vocal Event of the Year by the CMA and the ACM in 2003. A working man’s anthem, it also topped the country singles charts, marking Buffett’s first-ever No. 1 hit. The Boot sat down with songwriter Don Rollins to hear the story behind this now classic tune.

I wrote that with Jim “Moose” Brown, who’s a session player in town. There was a famous Jim Brown, who was a football player back in the ’60s, and I think Jim got the name “Moose,” because he had the same name as the football player. I was writing with Moose and he was actually playing piano on a record by a guy named Colt Prather, who was a new artist who had signed to Sony at the time. They wanted a Jimmy Buffett-vibe song for that album.

I had the idea of, ‘It’s Five O’clock Somewhere,’ and it just clicked that the idea would do really well with that setting. I floated it out and he said, “Yeah, I’ve always heard that saying but I’ve never heard a song about that.” So we wrote it. It was definitely that ‘Margaritaville‘ feel. Jim and I agreed what the story was, that this was a guy who decided to have a few at lunch, and then decided to stay there. Once that framework was there, then the lyrics were very easy for me. The musical setting of it was more Jim’s end of it. That chorus, ‘Pour me something tall and strong …’ musically, was definitely Jim’s thing.

The ‘What would Jimmy Buffett do?’ line in the bridge was there from the beginning. It was me being sarcastic, poking a little fun at the ‘What would Jesus do?’ bumper stickers. It happened to be exactly the right thing for that situation. That was the way they brought Buffett into the song, it turned out to be the thing to make the song work for that situation.

We did very few edits on it. Usually, Moose and I will beat a song to death after we write it, but this one we didn’t. As I remember, we switched the first verse with the second after we were finished. We both looked at it and went, “Oh, the first verse is the second and the second verse is the first.” Click. That was it.

We wrote it in February of 2003 and demoed it in March 2003. My publisher took it to the guy who was producing Colt Prather, and he passed on it immediately. A couple of other people passed on it, then I got the call that it was on hold for Alan, which I thought was strange, because if you hear the demo it’s very island-ly. There are acoutic guitars and steel drum samples, very much Buffett. The idea that someone as country as Alan Jackson might be interested in that song never even occurred to me. Then I got wind that he was wanting to do a duet with Buffett, and it made a little bit more sense at that point.

LYRICS: Written by Don Rollins and Jim “Moose” Brown
The sun is hot and that old clock is movin’ slow,
An’ so am I.
Work day passes like molasses in wintertime,
But it’s July.
I’m gettin’ paid by the hour, an’ older by the minute.
My boss just pushed me over the limit.
I’d like to call him somethin’,
I think I’ll just call it a day.

Pour me somethin’ tall an’ strong,
Make it a “Hurricane” before I go insane.
It’s only half-past twelve but I don’t care.
It’s five o’clock somewhere.

Oh, this lunch break is gonna take all afternoon,
An’ half the night.
Tomorrow mornin’, I know there’ll be hell to pay,
Hey, but that’s all right.
I ain’t had a day off now in over a year.
Our Jamaican vacation’s gonna start right here.
Hit the ‘phones for me,
You can tell ’em I just sailed away.

An’ pour me somethin’ tall an’ strong,
Make it a “Hurricane” before I go insane.
It’s only half-past twelve but I don’t care.
It’s five o’clock somewhere.

I could pay off my tab, pour myself in a cab,
An’ be back to work before two.
At a moment like this, I can’t help but wonder,
What would Jimmy Buffet do?

Funny you should ask that because I’d say:
Pour me somethin’ tall an’ strong,
Make it a “Hurricane” before I go insane.
It’s only half-past twelve but I don’t care.

Pour me somethin’ tall an’ strong,
Make it a “Hurricane” before I go insane.
It’s only half-past twelve but I don’t care.
He don’t care.
I don’t care.
It’s five o’clock somewhere.

What time zone am on? What country am I in?
It doesn’t matter, it’s five o’clock somewhere.
It’s always on five in Margaritaville, come to think of it.
Yeah, I heard that.
You been there haven’t you.
Yessir.
I seen your boat there.
I’ve been to Margaritaville a few times.
All right, that’s good.
Stumbled all the way back.
OK. Just wanna make sure you can keep it between the navigational beacons.
Between the buoys, I tell you.
All right. Well, it’s five o’clock. Let’s go somewhere.
I’m ready, crank it up.
Let’s get out of here.
I’m gone.

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About Robynn

Robynn Jaymes has spent her whole life in radio… 30 years!! And almost half of them have been at Star Country. Originally from Cincinnati, Robynn came to the area as a Liberty University student. Along with all things country music, Robynn is a big fan of Football!—The Virginia Tech Hokies, The Washington Redskins and, of course, the Cincinnati Bengals. And also, “I’m addicted to the Weather Channel,” she says. Right now, Robynn is a big fan if the music coming from Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Kenny Chesney! Robynn is also a winner of the Billboard Air Personality of the Year award. Hear all new Warm & Fuzzies with Robynn M-F at 11:45AM!

2 thoughts on “March 21.2014 – The Story Behind “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett

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