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Buffett rocks Margaritaville: SEE THE VIDEO

It all started before noon Thursday: "Did you hear?" or "You know what tonight is, don't you?" or "My brother-in-law knows him, it's a sure thing."

Who, you may ask, can incite this type of anticipation in Key West, a small island town known far and wide for its laid-back mentality?

Hemingway? No, those are just look-alikes. Kenny Chesney? No, he doesn't get any respect down here, apparently.

Of course, it's the island's own Jimmy Buffett, who played a surprise free concert Thursday night at the original Margaritaville on Duval Street. After employees and VIPs were let in, about 200 regular folks were ushered in to enjoy the show.

Buffett, looking gloriously sun-tanned wearing a fresh white-collared shirt, blue jeans and no shoes, was all grins. So was the crowd.

Just being near the man who put Margaritaville on the map was enough to bring a giddy smile to the face of the guy all the way at the end of the line, about half a block away from the entrance to the popular bar and restaurant.

Buffett said he's been hanging out in the French West Indies and "watching what's going on up here." He even referenced fallen big-time investor Bernie Madoff, who bilked his clients, many from South Florida, out of nearly $50 billion.

"I didn't give any of my money to Bernie Madoff," Buffett said with a smirk. "Bernie Madoff took all the money and now all his clients are down to skunk weed."

Apparently, Buffett has been following the global financial collapse and was inspired to pen a new tune, "We've Got a Lot to Drink About," which he debuted on Thursday.

Before Buffett, along with up-and-coming country singer Mac McAnally, started the song, he asked the crowd, "Hey! Has anybody noticed that the world has gone to hell real quick?" Following is just a sampling of the yet-to-be-released song.

"Up on the east side of Manhattan, they're still drinking with the stars. We're sitting in sub-prime city still angry at the bars. Millionaires losing everything, welcome to the other side of life. The [expletive] hit the fan then they made a plan, we've got a lot to drink about."

On that note, Buffett called for tequila to the stage, and rest assured, no bottle of ice-cold Patron has ever been delivered as quickly "We still serve that here, don't we?" he joked.

Other songs included "Woman Goin' Crazy on Caroline Street," "Grapefruit Juicy Fruit" and "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season."

A film crew was there and plans call for the footage to eventually be turned into a music video for the new song.

At one point, he got a far-away look in his eyes and just seemed to be staring at the wall. Well, he was staring at the wall. More specifically, at a mural depicting his mustachioed face, circa 1975, with huge, aviator-style sunglasses and long, flowing hair. He got a confused look on his face and said with reminiscence, "There's a huge picture of me with hair back there."

The picture must have taken Buffett back to when he moved to Key West in the early 1970s after an unsuccessful run at country music stardom in Nashville. One of his first places in town was an apartment at the end of Waddell Street next to Louie's Backyard that has a hammock perched on top of the house overlooking the Atlantic.

In addition to recalling how Louie's would hand his to-go order over the fence to him, he mentioned some of the connections he made living in the Southernmost City.

"I met Ed Bradley in that hammock when Hunter S. Thompson lived in my apartment."

The late Bradley, of course, was the famed long-time anchor of CBS's "60 Minutes," who rose to prominence in the late 1960s. Bradley died in 2006 in New York with Buffett at his side.

Thursday's performance was Buffett's first at Margaritaville since 2005.