If the Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me

Album: Last Mango in Paris (1985)
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Songfacts®:

  • Lyricist Will Jennings wrote this in 1985 in Key West with Buffett and Mike Utley, the longtime music director and keyboard player for Buffett's band, the Coral Reefers. Jennings told us: "The lyric comes out of some relationship problems that were present in our lives at that moment. The title emerged in the writing process."
  • Buffett writes many songs based on characters he creates, and is also a best-selling author. In collaborating with Jennings, he wrote more from personal experience. Around this time, Jennings was also writing with Steve Winwood, Rodney Crowell and Roy Orbison. Jennings explains the process: "We hang out. We go down to the pub, drink some beer, take walks. Just live. And talk about this and that. Spend some time. It's not like you show up and start writing. Show up and take a look around, see what the weather's like." (Check out our interview with Will Jennings.)
  • The album title is a play on the Marlon Brando movie Last Tango In Paris.
  • Buffett's heartache songs from this period were inspired by his split from his wife Jane, who packed up and left for New York in 1981. The pair officially separated in 1983 but reconciled in 1991.
  • Buffett said of the tune: "This phrase sort of sums it all up: 'Good days, bad days, and going half mad days.' We all have them. This is as close as I can get to a sad song... The time spent writing about the intensity involved in trying to keep love together is short; but the endless research can kill you."

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