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What’s Really on Jimmy’s Cheeseburger in Paradise

January 17th, 2007

Ken Hoffman of the Houston Chronicle sheds light on why Buffett seemingly left out cheese on his cheeseburger in the lyrics to Cheeseburger in Paradise.

I’ve finally fixed a problem that has tormented me for years. How can it be a cheeseburger … if there isn’t any cheese on it? It’s impossible. That’s why it’s always driven me crazy when I pick up a Jimmy Buffett CD or read a lyrics Web site and they’ve got the words wrong to Buffett’s tasty song “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Even Buffett’s own Web site, www.margaritaville.com, had the words wrong.

In the 1978 hit, Buffett plainly describes the blueprint for his favorite cheeseburger. A big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat. Heaven on Earth with an onion slice. I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57, French fried potatoes, a big kosher pickle and, a cold draft beer. There’s one more line that isn’t so plain. For three decades, Buffett fans, even the most devoted Parrotheads, thought he was singing . . .

Medium rare with mustard be nice.

Condimentally speaking, they’re all wrong: The backs of his CDs, the Web sites, and especially the guy sitting next to me.

Buffett is a words guy. He wouldn’t miss a critical ingredient like that. He’s saying, “Medium rare with Muenster be nice.” Muenster cheese. Now you’ve got a cheeseburger.

How do I know he’s saying “Muenster”? One of my first newspaper assignments was to cover Buffett recording an album in Miami. During a break, I asked him, “Why on Earth do you put mustard on a cheeseburger?”

He said,”I don’t.”

But you say mustard.

” I do? Where?”

“In ‘Cheeseburger,’ you say medium rare with mustard.”

“No, I don’t. It’s Muenster.”

So there … from Buffett himself.

Then I did something that I’ve never done before — I demanded a retraction. It felt good to be on the other side for once.

About an hour later, I got an e-mail from Coleman Sisson, Buffett’s No. 1 computer wizard, lord master of www.margaritaville.com.

“We corrected the lyrics page. Thanks. Glad to know you’re still out there.”

Read the entire article here.

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