It’s almost unfortunate that this has become Jimmy Buffett’s signature hit, since it’s far from the best thing he ever wrote and tends to give people an incorrect idea about what the majority of his work is like. Granted, unlike the myriad brainless Country Drinking Songs it wound up inspiring, it was originally intended to have an ironic, almost pathetic undertone to its cheeriness, something that is still reflected in pretty much every word of the lyrics. But I’m aware this excuse only holds water up to a certain point, since every live version since Buffett reinvented himself as a live performer has completely ignored the lyrics and delivered the song as exactly the kind of carefree celebration it’s thought to be in the popular imagination. That said, Buffett, in his own unassuming way, was capable of writing some incredibly catchy tunes, and this is one of his most enduring. For all its problems, it’s somehow hard to resist this song, especially in Buffett’s loose, charmingly informal method of performing it, and while it is not an indication of his full range as a writer, it does capture much of the fundamental appeal of his work, especially his live shows.
Verdict: Not Buffett’s best by any means, but good.