posted June 8th, 2016 at 10:47 am
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Jimmy Buffett’s iconic tune “Margaritaville” is one of 26 songs being included in the 2016 Recording Academy’s Grammy Hall of Fame Class 2016.
Part of the reason Jimmy Buffett’s iconic hit “Margaritaville” has stood the test of time is that it’s a song everyone can relate to, Shoals bassist, producer and former recording studio owner Norbert Putnam said.
Putnam should know.
He produced the track in 1977 with Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band.
“Margaritaville” is also connected with a restaurant chain, a chain of hotels, and a variety of other products such as “frozen concoction makers,” commonly known as blenders.
“It has every element for a good story,” Putnam said.
The singer refers to sitting on his front porch swing, strumming his six string. He’s noticing tourists covered in suntan oil, smelling shrimp beginning to boil, and cuts his foot on a pop top.
And like all good stories, Putnam said, the song has that element of drama or conflict.
“Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame, but I know, it’s nobody’s fault,” the chorus goes. Later in the song, however, the chorus changes and he laments, “… it’s my own … fault.”
Putnam said he agreed to produce a new Buffett album in the late 1970s after being approached by Buffett’s producer, Don Gant. According to Putnam, Buffett wanted to record his next album with his touring band, but Gant preferred recording with his favorite Nashville, Tennessee, session musicians.
So Putnam agreed to meet with Buffett at his favorite Nashville restaurant.
Putnam said Buffett told him “my band is more like the Rolling Stones than Nashville studio musicians.”
“I thought that was a pretty profound statement,” Putnam said.
He caught the band live and just like Buffett said, they came out “like a big heavy rock band.”
“And the crowd went wild,” Putnam said. “I thought, this must work. I met with Jimmy the next week and said, play me some songs. Everything he played had saltwater in it.”
Putnam had been in Miami, Florida, the year before with the Pousette-Dart Band, so he thought getting Buffett out of Nashville and into some Miami salt air might be good for the recording sessions.
About a week later, Buffett came to Putnam with “Changes in Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes,” and they were off to the beach.
One morning over breakfast, Buffett told Putnam he had a new song he titled “Margaritaville.” Putnam asked what “Margaritaville” was.
He said Buffett replied,”It’s a day in my life in Key West.”
“I’m sitting there thinking, I don’t know if this is a song or not,” Putnam said. “About the second week, he comes in and throws his legal pad down, grabs his guitar and said, listen to this. We gathered around and he sang ‘Margaritaville’ from start to finish.”
It appeared on “Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” which was recorded at Criteria Recording Studios in Miami and Putnam’s Quadrophonic Recording Studios in Nashville.
The song became Buffett’s highest charting solo single, reaching number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number one on the Hot Adult Contemporary Chart.
Read more here.
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