Who said it first?
July 30, 2008 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Where did the saying "It's 5 'o Clock Somewhere" originate?

Yeah, I know the Parrothead reference. But wasn’t this phrase encouraging daylight debauchery long before Jimmy Buffet? (I guess I’d rather picture an F. Scott Fitzgeraldian flapper coyly whispering it between puffs from her mother-of-pearl cigarette holder than to imagine the drunken choruses powered by a 4-top full of Realtors in Hawaiian print shirts.) Cheers (or a pint!) to anyone who can help.
posted by applemeat to Writing & Language (13 answers total)
This snippet at Google Book Search dates from 1975:
Early imbibers gather between 3 and 3:30 pm for the 25¢ drink special because, as one of my old friends used to say, it's five o'clock SOMEWHERE.
posted by Knappster at 12:38 PM on July 30, 2008

I'd say it has to do with happy hour. Traditionally, in the military, happy hour was from 5-6pm. It had to do with the fact that pilots were not allowed to drink 24 hours prior to a mission (the mission occuring the next day at 6pm). So, as long as they got their drinking out of the way in that hour, they were fine.

This is only my recollection from other people's description. (A brief google search yielded nothing.)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:43 PM on July 30, 2008

It's a phrase that was copyrighted by Jimmy Buffet and still periodically enforced.

My guess is that this exact phrasing is Jimmy's, but the specific reference to 5 o'clock refers to the end of the working day. That is somewhat contradicted by this book, which points out that drinking often started with a tipple at 11am with lunch.
posted by Alison at 12:53 PM on July 30, 2008

1971: McBee's Station.
posted by user92371 at 1:03 PM on July 30, 2008

In my parent's downstairs wet bar there was a figurine of a lush hugging a lamp-post and printed on the base beneath it were the words "It must be five o'clock SOMEWHERE!"

The date on the base of the figurine was 1962, so the phrase goes back at least a decade further than the previous cites.

(We also have cocktail flamingoes, Gig pity-kitty prints, novelty shot glasses commemorating the opening of the Sands Hotel & Casino in 1952, and a copy of the ever-popular board game Pass-Out, which encourages one to drink unto unconsciousness. My parents were the life of the party in the roarin' fifties.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:30 PM on July 30, 2008

Maybe a derail, but how does Jimmy buffet get to copyright a common everyday phrase? Does Aimee Mann get royalties on every I'm With Stupid t-shirt?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:31 PM on July 30, 2008

It's trademarked, not copyrighted.
posted by bricoleur at 1:34 PM on July 30, 2008

It's trademarked, not copyrighted.

An extremely important distinction.
posted by fixedgear at 1:43 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, the link claims Buffet has trademarked it, not copyrighted it. Two different things. And in a trademark, if it's an existing word or phrase, it has to be trademarked with a particular type of product. (Apple can prevent anyone else using "Apple" as the name of a computer, but they can't prevent another company from using "Apple" as the name of an unrelated product, if they don't have a trademark for that type of product.) Here's the set of trademarks on that phrase. It's the first one listed that includes t-shirts, among other things.

And yes, if you want to point out that that first one is very broad in the things it covers, I won't disagree with you, but "a lot of different types of products, spelled out" (which apparently is legitimate in a trademark application) is different than "any type of product whatsoever" (which is not, as I understand it).

Note: I'm just explaining, not defending.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:45 PM on July 30, 2008

In colonial America, drinking often strted at o dark thirty since water was suspect and unsafe, and beer (or even small beer) was safe since the water had been boiled. Isn't it akin to 420, like it's serious breach of the social contract to do X before Y hour?
posted by fixedgear at 2:47 PM on July 30, 2008

It's trademarked, not copyrighted.

You're right. Withdrawn.
posted by Alison at 6:29 PM on July 30, 2008

I think the phase would have to pre-date 1971 as my grandmother used the phrase quite often and as long as I can remember, and that would be back to the 60's.
posted by michswiss at 7:31 PM on July 30, 2008

Great responses, thank you all. ...And I also remember my older aunts' and uncles' 1950's- 1960's era home bar decor and paraphernalia--Pink elephant coasters and matching ashtray, pink flamingo stir sticks, and the sign "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" against the wall.

I especially like User92371's "McBee's Station" citation, because while this work was apparently published in 1971, the selected text passage includes a character attributing the phrase to one that "the old judge used to say."
posted by applemeat at 8:16 AM on August 1, 2008

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