"A Pirate Looks at Forty"
Single by Jimmy Buffett
from the album A1A
A-side"A Pirate Looks at Forty"
B-side"Presents to Send You"
ReleasedFebruary 1975
RecordedWoodland Sound Studio, Nashville, Tennessee
GenreCountry,[1] Gulf and Western
D-15029 (US, 7")
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Buffett
Producer(s)Don Gant
Jimmy Buffett singles chronology
"Pencil Thin Mustache"
"A Pirate Looks at Forty"
"Door Number Three"
Audio sample

"A Pirate Looks at Forty" is a song written and performed by American popular music singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett. It was first released on his 1974 album A1A and "Presents to Send You" is the B-side of the single.

Buffett wrote the song about Phillip Clark, at the Chart Room where Buffett first performed after his move to Key West, Florida.[2] The song contains the bittersweet confession of a modern-day, washed-up drug smuggler as he looks back on the first 40 years of his life, expresses lament that his preferred vocation of piracy on the high seas was long gone by the time he was born, and ponders his future.

For radio play, the song was shortened by deleting the fourth verse for the single release. Cash Box the song has "an almost reggae progression, fine guitar playing and lead solo, [and] moving lyrics."[3] The song is one of Buffett's more popular, and is part of "The Big 8" that he has played at almost all of his concerts, and always during the second set.[4]

Chart performance

Chart (1974) Peak
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 101

Cover versions

Ian McNabb included a cover on his CD single "I'm Game" in 1993 which was taken from his solo album "Truth and Beauty".

Jack Johnson has been known to cover this song in many of his smaller concerts. It was officially released on the soundtrack to The September Sessions in 2002.[5]

Roger Creager, a prominent Texas Country performer, covers this song as well and is featured on his live album Live Across Texas.

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez performed the song during their 1982 reunion performance at the Peace Sunday rally in Pasadena, California.

Dave Matthews alongside Jack Johnson performed the song at Kokua Benefit Concert at the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu in 2008.

Songwriter/Musician T.J. O'Neill collaborated with long-time friend Stick Figure on the song which was his first single in 2019. It also featured reggae artists KBong and Johnny Cosmic. The music video was shot live on location at a resort in Mexico with thousands of fans surrounding the singers while performing.[6][7]

Notes and references

  1. ^ Frye Gaillard (January 1, 2012). The Quilt: And the Poetry of Alabama Music. NewSouth Books. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-60306-391-3.
  2. ^ "Early Daze." at CoBO.org
  3. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. March 29, 1975. p. 22. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  4. ^ "Songs Played the Most." at BuffettNews.org
  5. ^ "The September Sessions." at Amazon.com
  6. ^ "New Single Release: TJ O'Neill "A Pirate Looks at 40" ft Stick Figure, KBong, Johnny Cosmic".
  7. ^ "A Pirate Looks at 40 (Official Music Video) - Out Now!".