Semi-True Story

Album: Beach House On The Moon (1999)
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Songfacts®:

  • Written by Mac McAnally ("It's My Job"), this country ballad references Buffett's drunken skirmish with the infamous Buford Pusser, a wrestler-turned-lawman who was known for doling out tough justice as sheriff of McNairy County in Tennessee. As the song says, Buffett had just finished recording "God's Own Drunk" (from his 1974 album Living And Dying In ¾ Time) and headed to the King of the Road Hotel with his drummer, Sammy Creason, to celebrate with some tequila - lots of tequila. By the time they left to get some food, Buffett was so drunk he couldn't find his car, so he stood on the hood of a Cadillac to get a better view of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the Caddy belonged to Buford Pusser.

    "I was standing on the hood of this particular car and as fate would have it, it belonged to a rather large man who came up behind me and threatened my life real quickly," Buffett told concert-goers just a few months later. "And I hadn't been in a fight since junior high school on the city bus in Mobile. He came up and said 'Son you stay right there, you're under arrest.' So I politely turned around and said 'You kiss my ass.' He didn't. Instead he followed me over to the car which Sammy had found. I got in the driver's side and Sammy got in the passenger's side. My window was up, his was down and this fellow poked his head in and said 'Would you like for me to turn this car over?'"

    It probably would've been easier on Buffett if the sheriff had turned the car over. Instead, he gave the singer and the drummer the beating of their lives.
  • Buffett was lucky to not get arrested that night, and - he realized after he learned who his assailant was - even luckier to escape with his life. Back in the safety of the hotel, he was clued in. He recalled: "Two detectives seized me, drug me into the elevator and said, 'Son, we would call the police and have you arrested. You've caused quite a disturbance here tonight. But we figure you're just lucky to be alive because that was Buford Pusser.' And I went 'Oh. 8th floor please.'"
  • This isn't the first time Buffett hinted at the incident in song. In "Presents To Send You," from the 1974 album A1A, he sang:

    There sits a fifth of tequila
    God I swore I'd never drink it again
    But my last little bout
    I had my hair pulled out by a man
    Who wasn't really my friend
    And I know I'll never see him again


    Buffett never did see the "Walkin' Tall" sheriff again. Pusser died in a car accident on August 21, 1974.

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