Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today named 25 recordings as audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage, including Margaritaville.
“The National Recording Registry preserves our history through recorded sound and reflects our nation’s diverse culture,” Hayden said. “The national library is proud to help ensure these recordings are preserved for generations to come, and we welcome the public’s input on what songs, speeches, podcasts or recorded sounds we should preserve next. We received more than 1,100 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry.”
The recordings selected for the National Recording Registry bring the number of titles on the registry to 625, representing a small portion of the national library’s vast recorded sound collection of nearly 4 million items.
Early in the 1970s, Jimmy Buffett was a little-known singer/songwriter when, after a rough night in Austin, Texas, he had a tasty Margarita at a bar the next day. Still sipping, he started scribbling a song on a cocktail napkin, finished it later while stuck in a traffic jam on the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys and played “Margaritaville” for the first time in a little bar in Key West that night when it was “probably six hours old.”
By 1977, it was a Top 10 hit and has since become a pop culture staple and the namesake of a chain of businesses and products — including books, restaurants, a radio channel, a cruise line and 55-and-older living communities — that Buffett oversees. Initially, though, he said he was just delighted to have a hit song on a hit record and be “actually making money.”
The key to the song’s resonance in American culture, Buffett told the Library, was that people were looking for a song to make them feel good and be happy.
“You're lucky enough at some point to put your thumb on the pulse of something that people can connect with,” he said. “It's an amazing and lucky thing to happen to you, and that happened with ‘Margaritaville.’”