2003: Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett Take “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” To No. 1
On August 9, 2003, Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett’s collab, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” kicked off a seven-week run topping the Billboard Country Singles Chart.
While all die-hard Alan Jackson fans know the song, not many know that the path to success for “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and its songwriters was highly unusual. In an interview with American Songwriter, Don Rollins, who co-wrote the song with Jim “Moose” Brown shared the story behind the song and how Alan Jackson changed his life.
During a songwriting session in February 2003, Jim Brown told Don Rollins that he was working on a project with new artist Colt Prather. The newcomer wanted to record a song with a “Buffett vibe”….something with a casual island feel. Rollins pitched a title that he had stored away and the pair agreed that it was something they could work with.
Within two hours, Brown and Rollins had written “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” A month later, a demo was recorded using the vocals of a then-unknown Chris Stapleton. Surprisingly, Colt Prather passed on the song, so the writers forgot about it and had moved on.
But, the writers got word that Alan Jackson was going to record it, and in less than six months, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” was sitting atop the Billboard Country Singles Chart.
The rapid success of “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” was unprecedented.
Most songwriters wait years for their songs to be recorded. And many songs never are. So, the quick rise of “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” was a pleasant and life-changing surprise for Jim “Moose” Brown and Don Rollins.
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After spending seven consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard chart, the song was bumped by Dierks Bentley’s debut single, “What Was I Thinkin’.” But, Dierks’ run was short-lived. Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet performed the tune at the CMA Awards that week, moving them back into the top spot once more.
“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” earned Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet a CMA Award for Vocal Event of the Year, giving Buffett his first-ever career award. It was also named Best Country Song at the 2003 Grammy Awards, a life-changing moment for the songwriters.
See the official music video for “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” below.