A song about public relations?

It’s true, there is a song about public relations. Needless to say the lyrics are not flattering; however, they are consistent with the dominant view of the public relations field (i.e. publicists). I was introduced to the lyrics of this song a few years ago, but never thought much of it till today. Turns out this song was actually written to coincide with the book Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk. As per the Amazon book description, “…It’s the story of Norman Paperman, a New York City press agent who, facing the onset of middle age, runs away to a Caribbean island to reinvent himself as a hotel keeper” (para. 2). The novel was originally published in 1965, and then republished in 1992.

According to Herman Wouk biography page “Don’t Stop the Carnival, published in 1965, is an extravaganza of life on a Caribbean island, which tells some grim truths of politics and race under the surface of fun. A few years ago the novel took on another form when Wouk wrote the libretto of a musical version in collaboration with Jimmy Buffett, the show’s composer and lyricist. Don’t Stop the Carnival had its premiere at the Coconut Grove Theatre in Miami, where enthusiastic audiences caused the original run to be extended by several months” (para. 9). Buffett bought the rights to Don’t Stop the Carnival in 1996.

Amazon reviewers say you won’t understand the song till you read the book. Guess I’ll have to put this book on my “to-read” list for the summer. Maybe then I’ll have a better outlook on the lyrics of this song…maybe.

Listen to the lyrics and tell me what you think?



Filed under personal thoughts, public relations

19 responses to “A song about public relations?

  1. Life without music… well you might as well be dead. For those who have a passion for music and public relations, good news we have a song! Jimmy Buffett sings Don’t stop the carnival, in which he recognizes Norman Paperman, a producer and director who is important to our field. I like the lyrics about this song given that it made me picture my life as a person working in PR. “Up every morning, out every evening, hustling for headlines,” the true life of someone in public relations. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_Dlmtq9CNo)

  2. I’m a big buffet fan so I thought this song was fantastic. The song’s lyrics I will agree can be hard to follow at times, but the arrangements are fantastic. It think also that the song is focusing on an exaggerated form of PR because it is based on a book. Books as well as plays harness exaggeration to have a heavier toll on an individuals emotions, and that is exactly what I believe Buffet did here. Also, this song I believe gains the reputation for giving people the wrong idea of public relations for one main reason. I think that this song is not meant to educate people about what PR is, but to act as music to follow the story line of a fictional book. Since people don’t know what it is because there are so few songs and really information about it they just jump to conclusions that PR is about all the things that the songs talked about.

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  4. I’ve never been one for breaking down parts of songs or poems. However, after looking over the lyrics, I’m pretty sure Mr. Buffet released the song as a joke. Basically, the song goes on to describe the stereotypical perks of having a PR job (ie. “Boozing and schmoozing”). Then, the song goes into overdrive by explaining how the fast pace of PR results in a “heart attack.” The only comment that I would support is when Buffet sings, “Making folks happy…That’s what I’ll do.” Funny song. Funnier singer.

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  6. britjolley

    “I never acted as some nervous cookie. Right from the start, I was hot as cookie.” This lyric is hilarious. Honestly, all I can do at this song is laugh. Am I offended? Slightly. Do I still think it’s a marvelous, satirical attempt to describe PR? Yes, definitely. First of all, entering the PR profession out of college, everyone is a rookie. Unless you are some sort of magician with magical connections, your chances of being some sort of executive or making the big bucks are slim to none. That is unless you have some amazing business ability and open your own booming firm which immediately sky rockets itself to success. Experience is everything, to be a “hot cookie” or “numero uno” will more than likely take years to obtain. The song makes PR sound like such a glitzy job, such the stereotypical role we have discussed throughout the semester of publicist type work. Going out in the evenings, drinking, sucking up to people, living the lifestyle, etc. is such a typical perception of the profession. The best part about the song is the second verse which says “But I went full throttle, never could slow down . . .” and talks about him having a heart attack. This verse hits the nail on the head when it comes to the circumstances which could surround public relations. My last SHAPE magazine ranked it as one of the top 3 most stressful professions. I feel as if people don’t realize just what all goes into the work of public relations and just how stressful it can be. I wouldn’t consider it “foolish”, but it is definitely a “fast track”, fast paced type of atmosphere. The “ego inflation” “hullaboloo”, and “yacking and quacking” descriptions humor me. I understand what he is saying, but they’re so ridiculous I just have to chuckle. One of the last parts of the song “making folks happy, that’s what I’ll do” is definitely appropriate to the industry of PR. In my opinion, when it all boils down to it, that’s the sole purpose. You want to make your consumers/customers happy. You want to please the fans who are tied to any type of entertainment source. You want to please your sponsors and maintain a good relationship. You want to keep your employees happy and meet their demands, wants, and needs. You also want to keep your stakeholders and investors happy. The list could go on and on. Overall, the song cracked me up, and I enjoyed listening to it.
    -Brittany Jolley

  7. Wow! This song definitely paints PR in a bad light. I have never heard of this song or the book before and i kind of want to go and read it to understand some of the lyrics! There is so much more to public relations than what is sung in the song. It is hilarious that there is a song about PR and it’s a catchy one too! Definitely going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day!

    Macie Walters

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  9. blf123456!

    I think the song is very funny. I think that to take a field like PR that not many people know about sing a song about the one way that the world views this field is quite hilarious. It just makes me giggle because there is so much more to PR than what everyone thinks. There are so many rabbit holes and avenues that this career can take you through. I don’t think the song was offensive or whatever, but it just draws attention to the fact that there is so much more for the world to learn about this field. But, if they don’t, I guess were the lucky ones to know the truth!

  10. i thought the song was a little hard to listen to. Yes, it touched on some of the stereotypes that the profession of public relations entails, but I wasn’t really able to catch why they were in New York City and then moved to an island? Where they saying the New York City is the island? I would not listen to this song more than once.

    • I too have never heard of this song or book. It is a quite funny and yes a l little hard to get through. Unfortunately a lot of people still have this negative out look on Public Relations. A lot of people still believe its about spinning a :”Hapabulu”lol as this singer says. Hopefully one day the public wil have a better understanding on just what Public Relations is.

  11. Wow! That really gave me a good laugh. As it was playing, I imagined a PR Broadway play. I saw the curtains open up and this song was the opening number. Nonetheless, I think its pretty innovative to write a song about Public Relations. It also is a good way to generate press for the book. He said many things in the song that were true and very humorous. All i keep hearing in my head is public relations, halabaloo!

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  13. I have never heard of any of this going on until now. The song is pretty clever. Jimmy Buffet was a good way to get the audience’s attention. This is a interesting approach to promote a book, not sure if I would have went this way but hey, I’m not judging!

  14. I haven’t heard of the book or song until now! Ha! I think the song is pretty funny. Every different field of work has their negative stereotypes and this song really brought those to the table about public relations. Not that I have worked in the PR field just yet but even, but one day when I do, I would hope I’d be able to still laugh at it. It’s important to have an understanding of the pros and cons of the field of work you’re entering.
    Also a different way of promoting a book, interesting approach.

  15. I don’t really like this song since it makes PR sound bad. Personally, I think that the things he is complaining about in the song, like the “fast track”, sound really awesome. Some people are happy just chilling out and eating cheeseburgers for a living, I need a little excitement!!

  16. Heather Landry

    I’ve never heard of the book or song until now. As it always seems to go in the entertainment industry, why not create something that is going to get noticed. Whether the information is true or false, they are trying to spark a buzz. I’m sure lots of people have listened to the song just to see what it’s like-especially when Jimmy Buffett’s name is on it. I think the song is comical, but what an interesting way to also promote the book.

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  18. I think this song is a bit humorous. I have never heard of this song before and was surprised they have something like this out there. I think this is song just shows that a lot of the world does not understand the job of public relations. When he sings, “Up every morning, out every evening, hustling for a headline that’s what I do, table at Sardi’s, grabbling for gossip…” it really just shows he does not understand all the jobs in public relations. I think the song overall is a pretty funny although a lot of the stuff he sings about is not actually how it is for everyone in the real world.