Court Cites Jimmy Buffett Lyrics in Key West Tattoo Ban Decision

The city misinterpreted the lyrics to "Margaritaville," the court found

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty

Next up: “Cheeseburger in Paradise” gets cited in that Chipotle investigation.

Jimmy Buffett’s iconic song “Margaritaville” became an important part of a court decision overturning a ban on tattoo parlors in Key West, Florida, in a ruling finalized Monday.

City officials referenced the lines about a tattoo obtained by the song’s soused narrator in an attempt to bar Virginia man Brad Beurhle from opening a tattoo shop in the city. In the song, Buffett sings about a tattoo of a “Mexican cutie,” the origin story of which he “hasn’t got a clue.”

Judges wrote in a footnote to their ruling that the song’s narrator ultimately deems his new ink “a real beauty” and doesn’t seem to regret it. That runs counter to city officials’ interpretation, which suggested tourists would be more likely to get drunken tattoos – and subsequently, sober regrets – if there were more tattoo parlors available in the city to provide them. (They also attempted to show that more tattoo shops would erode the historic district’s “character and fabric,” according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal.)

Key West banned tattoo parlors within the city limits until 2007, when zoning rules were amended to allow for a limited number of them. Currently, two are operating, and “the city concedes the absence of any ill effect as a result,” the ruling reads.

Jimmy Buffett’s Twitter account has remained mum on the ruling. His last tweet was a Jan. 1 retweet from Margaritaville’s account: “#FinsUp for a #RockinEve.”

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