"Zanzibar" as written by and Billy Joel....
Ali dances and the audience applauds
Though he's bathed in sweat he hasn't lost his style
Ali don't you go downtown
You gave away another round for free

Me, I'm just another face at Zanzibar
But the waitress always serves a secret smile
She's waiting out in Shantytown
She's gonna pull the curtains down for me, for me

I've got the old man's car
I've got a jazz guitar
I've got a tab at Zanzibar
Tonight that's where I'll be, I'll be

Rose, he knows he's such a credit to the game
But the Yankees grab the headline every time
Melodrama's so much fun
In black and white for everyone to see

Me, I'm trying just to get to second base
And I'd steal it if she only gave the sign
She's gonna give the go head
The inning isn't over yet for me, for me

I've got the old man's car
I've got a jazz guitar
I've got a tab at Zanzibar
Tonight that's where I'll be

Tell the waitress I'll come back to Zanzibar
I'll be hiding in the darkness with my beer
She's waiting out in Shantytown
She's gonna pull the curtains down for me, for me

I've got the old man's car
I've got a jazz guitar
I've got a tab at Zanzibar
Tonight that's where I'll be


Lyrics submitted by ruben

"Zanzibar" as written by Billy Joel

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Zanzibar song meanings
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15 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentSounds like he's looking to get some. I say that because of the reference to second base and wanting to steal it if only she gave the sign. :)

    I love Billy.
    Surfpicoon September 19, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSuch an awesome jazzy song. Unbelievable he can still perform songs so well in his late 50's just like he's 25.
    adam400on March 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYea, its a great song, and im guessing he was just fooling around. Also, whoever made this site, you said that on line is "shes waiting out in Shantytown" but it is actually "she waiting out in Shattingtown." There is no such thing as Shantytown.
    globbertson April 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentShanty towns have existed (at least in America) since the Great Depression. A shanty town consists of low-cost, poorly constructed dwellings, usually located on the outskirts of town. This is exactly the kind of place the waitress would be taking him, to "pull the curtains down." I love how he uses the description of a bunch of guys in the bar watching the Yankees game to segue into his own attempts to get laid. Classic Billy lyrics! Love the jazzy sound too!
    neurotic.housewifeon May 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentRated +1  In Zanzibar, Joel uses sporting analogies in talking about life or women, as men often do, especially when hanging around in a bar. We do the same in my country, but here it is cricket and not baseball. 

    So I've only recently discovered who 'Rose' is. Pete Rose was good enough to enter the baseball Hall of Fame until he ruined his chances in a betting scandal about ten years after Joel wrote the song. He signs his autograph "I'm sorry I bet on baseball, Pete Rose". Now Joel has changed the lyric in his live concerts to, "Rose, he knows he'll never reach the Hall of Fame".

    He also sometimes changes another line to, "She's waiting out in Shantytown. She's gonna pull her panties down for me," which makes it pretty clear where the thrust of the song is heading.

    I object to someone earlier suggesting that Joel doesn't care too much about his lyrics since he writes the music first. Most Joel fans think his lyrics are great. Writing the music before the lyrics is just how it works best for him.  
    If you look at his early stuff (e.g. Summer Highland Falls) you'll see when he tried to do it the traditional way, and it came out a bit cheesy.

    52nd Street is just about my favourite music album. I think it won the Grammy for best album that year. In Zanzibar he throws in an unusual augmented 5th chord (music theorists can help me out here). He does the same for one or two other songs on the album, such as 'Rosalinda's Eyes'. I suppose anyone can throw In an unusual chord, but Joel showed his music mastery in mixing those ingredients to create a distinctive new flavour and win a swag of new fans along with that Grammy.   
    DanSmerengueon January 10, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSupposedly this song was written as a response by Billy to the Steely Dan album, The Royal Scam. There are some really wierd (for Billy Joel) chord progressions in it that apparently were an homage to Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (Steely Dan)
    magpi1on January 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentExcept for "We didn't start the Fire", BJ always starts with the musci first and adds the lyrics. I think this is one of the songs where he just threw in some lyrics, and even though they suck, he left them in to get the song on the album (it really fits into the jazzy feel of 52nd Street).

    BTW, I heard him do this live in the 2006 tour and it was probbaly the best live performance of a song I have ever heard.
    crdesqon March 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjust wondering-- Rose, who is a "credit to the game", is this Pete Rose?
    andersoon December 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always heard "Ali" as "Allie", i.e., short for "Allison" (which was confusing when he said "though HE's bathed in sweat...). Perhaps it's referring to Muhammed Ali, and the "dancing" is the footwork and dodging and swaying that boxers do?
    bugmenot123on August 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentactually, this song was written about a restaurant/club in downtown Washington D.C. called Zanzibar On The Waterfront.
    rockerchik154on August 21, 2007   Link

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