Behind the Meaning of “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

If you like piña coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain, this article is probably for you.

Singer/songwriter Rupert Holmes released the beachy song “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” in 1979, and it’s stuck around ever since. The song’s familiar breezy and trouble-free sound immediately puts us in a vacation headspace, and we tip our hats to Holmes for that. But how did we get there? Below we’ll explore the meaning behind the “Escape” lyrics and how Holmes felt about his most successful single.

The meaning behind the lyrics

The lyrics of “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” tells the story of two lovers. The opening verse introduces a male narrator who is, quite frankly, bored with his current relationship.

I was tired of my lady
We’d been together too long

Amid his restlessness, the narrator responds to a newspaper ad. The author of the ad is very specific about what they are looking for, and they’re looking for a new lover. We find out in the chorus that the ad author, presumed and later proven to be a “lady,” is looking for someone spontaneous with an affinity for a particular tropical drink.

If you like piña coladas
And gettin’ caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga
If you have half a brain
If you like makin’ love at midnight
In the dunes on the cape
Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for
Write to me and escape

Once the man has responded to the ad, he goes to meet up with the anonymous lady at a bar called O’Malley’s. There he discovers that the mysterious lady was, in fact, his partner whom he was bored with at the beginning of the song. Thus, the meaning behind these lyrics becomes quite redemptive. The two characters in “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” learn that they actually have more in common than they thought. Then they seemingly begin to learn to love each other all over again.

Rupert Holmes’s resentment for The Piña Colada Song

“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” was Holmes’s most commercially successful song. It topped the charts in the United States and was the final song of the 1970s to do so. The song’s legacy also lingers along with Holmes’s as popular culture still broadcasts the track in films, TV series, and almost every local bar.

But Holmes has grown to resent the carefree song to some degree. He feels that the song has overshadowed the rest of his career, his other accomplishments in particular. The songwriter has also won awards for writing musicals (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and a TV series (Remember WENN).

“I have a feeling that if I saved an entire orphanage from a fire and carried the last child out on my shoulders, as I stood there charred and smoking, they’d say, ‘Aren’t you the guy who wrote the piña colada song?’ It’s tough when you have this one thing that pulls focus from all these other things that you’ve done, yet every songwriter lives to have a song that most everybody knows,” Holmes told Songfacts.

Touché, Holmes, but we still like belting out If you like piña coladas every time the song comes on.

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