by Jimmy Buffett • Lesson #19 • May 25, 2016

Editor’s Notes

Here’s an ukulele lesson teaching you how to play Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett. I’m a huge Buffett fan, and when learning the uke I fell in love with playing this song. I think ukulele tuning actually works quite well for capturing the vibe of the intro riff, which I’ve included tabs for. Enjoy!

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Lyrics & Chords


    D (with intro riff)


    ...Nibblin' on sponge cake, watching the sun bake...
    D                                     A
    ...All of those tourists covered with oil...
    ...Strummin' my six-string... on my front porch swing
    A                                          D     D7
    ...Smell those shrimp they're beginning to boil


        G           A                 D          D7
        ...Wastin' away again in Margaritaville
        G                    A                 D    D7
        ...Searchin' for my--- lost shaker of salt
        G              A                    D    A      G
        ...Some people claim that there's a wo---man to blame
                A                   D
        But I know... it's nobody's fault

    Don't know the reason... stayed here all season
    Nothing is sure but this brand new tattoo
    But it's a real beauty... a Mexican cutie
    How it got here, I haven't a clue

        Wastin' away again in Margaritaville
        Searchin' for my... lost shaker of salt
        Some people claim that there's a woman to blame
        Now I think... hell, it could be my fault

    I blew out my flip-flop... stepped on a pop-top
    Cut my heel had to cruise on back home
    But there's booze in the blender... and soon it will render
    That frozen concoction that helps me hang on

        Wastin' away again in Margaritaville
        Searchin' for my... lost shaker of salt
        Some people claim that there's a woman to blame
        But I know... it's my own damn fault... yes and,

        Some people claim that there's a woman to blame
        And I know... it's my own damn fault

Chords used

This song needs only three chords. They are:

----0----   ----2----   ----0----
----2----   ----3----   ----0----
----2----   ----2----   ----1----
----2----   ----0----   ----2----
    D           G           A

While you can add variations to the above chords as you please, the most common variations you’ll want to practice are these:

----0----   ----3----
----2----   ----2----
----0----   ----2----
----2----   ----2----
    D7          D7

Strumming Pattern

At the very least, you’ll want to emphasize the 2nd and 4th beat:

    _       _  
    D       D   
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Taking it a step further, use the common D-DU-UDU pattern, while continuing to emphasize the 2nd and 4th beat.

    _       _
D   D U   U D U
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Finally, you can add a chunky muted strum to the 2nd and 4th beat. These continue to be down-strums, but are further emphasized via the chunky & muted strum.

    _       _
D   x U   U x U
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Intro tab

Here’s the tab of the intro melody. Note, I’m also showing the implied chords to be played with each measure. I recommend you move your hands into these chord positions first, and figure out how to play the melodic notes second.

   D                 G                  A                 D

                                  ...then, stay on D for a bit

Other strumming fills

Base “D” verse strum / “Nibblin’ on sponge cake…”

   D           Dsus2  D           Dsus4  D

Base “A” strum / “…Strummin’ my six string…”

   A          A7       A       

Transition into chorus / “D” strum within chorus

   D           Dsus4  D           Dsus4  D7

Chorus ending / “But I know, it’s my own damn fault”

   A                  D   

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