Like the rest of the world, the Library of Congress was very saddened to hear of the passing of Jimmy Buffett this past weekend. His passing was, to us, all the more poignant as Mr. Buffett’s iconic recording, “Margaritaville,” was added to the Library’s National Recording Registry just earlier this year.
At the time, Mr. Buffett expressed his great pleasure at having his song selected, providing to us not only a wonderful interview on the song and his career but also generously sharing his memories of its making.
At the time of its induction, esteemed music writer (and Buffett fan) Scott Atwell wrote for the Library the following essay. We share it below.
Editor’s Note: Read more, see link below for original item…
The first person I met at the Bar & Chill was a bald guy in a black T-shirt, black drawstring shorts, and flip-flops, with a Harley-Davidson tattoo on his right arm and a claddagh ring on his left hand. He was drinking and laughing with a few friends. He gestured to the empty stool next to him and said, “We don’t bite.”
I offered an expression of if-you-insist, and he said, “Bring it.” His tone was cheerful, as you might expect at the Bar & Chill, the principal drinking-and-dining establishment that looks out on the town center of Latitude Margaritaville, an active-living community for Jimmy Buffett enthusiasts, aged “55 and better,” in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Bar & Chill was open to the evening. A gentle breeze fanned the lanai. On a flat-screen, the Providence Friars led the Vermont Catamounts by a few buckets. A bartender brought a Perfect Margarita in a plastic cup.
The bald man, drinking a vodka soda, said his name was Phil. Phil Murphy, from Arlington, Massachusetts, aged sixty-four. Formerly a research director at Forrester, retired since 2015. “I was in the air for twenty years,” he said. He looked and sounded less like my idea of a Parrothead, as Jimmy Buffett’s diehard fans are called, than like Mike Ehrmantraut, the melancholic fixer in “Breaking Bad.”
Standing off his left shoulder, his wife, Betty, red hair cut short, added a dash of urbanity, a spritz of Allison Janney. Phil and Betty had organized an emergency fund for the restaurant’s staff during its Covid shutdown. One of their friends declared them “the king and queen of the Bar & Chill.”
Through all the times Irwin Allen destroyed cities in his ‘70s era disaster films, and as many times as Hollywood took out humanity through climate-based disasters or alien invasions, none did it better than Deep Impact.
Not for the destructive spectacle; Deep Impact has surprisingly little, and the visual effects lack the sizzle they once carried.
Instead, it’s because of Tea Leoni, standing in fear on the seashore with her previously disowned father, waiting for a cataclysmic tidal wave to end their lives.
Rarely does disaster claim the lead actor’s life. Here, she’s obliterated when humanity fails. There’s something inherently human about the acceptance, the defeat, and reality that drives Deep Impact’s drama to that moment (even if Leoni’s broadcast journalist shtick before lacks the same real world conviction).
The retirement speech of General Douglas MacArthur. A talk on three Caravaggio paintings by a National Gallery curator. Several hours of woodland noise to fall asleep to. All 13 episodes of Civilisation. Clips of how Gavi is coming on at Barcelona. An interview with Saul Bellow on Swiss Italian TV. A review of the De’Longhi Dedica coffee machine. A Tame Impala gig I missed in Hackney last summer. Gore Vidal drawling his way through Venice for 90 minutes. A guide to the five tones in spoken Thai.
Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. Someone’s hour-long drive through my old neighbourhood in LA. A documentary about the Meiji Restoration in French. How to re-pressurise a boiler. The academic philosopher Anthony Quinton explaining Wittgenstein. Martha Nussbaum explaining Aristotle. An American expat eating bánh cuon in Hanoi. A British expat eating prawn pad kaprao in Bangkok. Versions of L’Orfeo from the Barcelona and Zurich opera houses. A discussion of how close China came to industrialising in the Song dynasty. Four parkour runners seemingly beating the Tube in a race from Moorgate to Farringdon stations. A 158-minute interview with Emmanuel Macron. How to use an Indesit washer-dryer. The above is a basket of goods from the great souk we call YouTube. I pay a tenner a month for these videos. I could put up with adverts and pay nothing.
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ is one of Bob Dylan’s greatest moments. Written in 1973, the track features a glamorous, all-star band. Boasting The Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn on the six-string and Jim Keltner on the drums, it also utilised the talents of the iconic backing singers Carol Hunter, Donna Weiss and Brenda Patterson. Together, this stellar lineup created something spiritually driven and emotionally hard-hitting.
Out of all of Dylan’s post-1960s work, ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ is one of his most loved. Described by Dylan biographer Clinton Heylin as “an exercise in splendid simplicity”, it discusses the notions of life and death, and through its glorious composition, it has earned legions of fans with an inter-generational appeal that is largely unseen in music.