Exactly one week after Jimmy Buffett’s death from skin cancer at the age of 76, three songs from the tropical/country-rock singer-songwriter have been released – including one with his dear friend Sir Paul McCartney, and another, “Bubbles Up ,’ which McCartney has described as the best voice of Buffett’s career.
The ever-prolific Buffett completed his last studio album, Equal load on all parts, shortly before his death; As a parting gift to his loyal flock of Parrotheads still in mourning, the 14-song record will now be released on November 3 on Buffett’s own Mailboat Records label, distributed by legendary Memphis label Sun Records. Three new songs, ‘Bubbles Up’, ‘Like My Dog’ and ‘My Gummy Just Kicked In’, preview the record, and their release is bittersweet (especially ‘Bubbles Up’, with a chorus – ‘Just know that you’re loved there is light above, and joy, there is always enough” – that seems like a farewell). But the hilarious final song, a collaboration with McCartney, showcases Buffett’s signature laid-back humor right to the end.
As the story goes, “My Gummy Just Kicked In” was inspired by a dinner party attended by McCartney, McCartney’s wife Nancy Shevell, Buffett and Buffett’s wife, Jane Slagsvol. When Shevell stumbled while walking to the dining room table, a concerned Buffett asked if she was okay, to which she graciously replied, “I’m fine.” My gummy just got kicked in!” At that point, an amused Buffett and McCartney declared that they would write a song with that same title, and it turns out they weren’t kidding. McCartney recalled the subsequent studio experience in a recent one social media tributeand said he was “really happy” to play bass on the track during “a really fun session.”
In his heartfelt social media post, McCartney — who, according to the New York Post, visited Buffett during the singer-songwriter’s final days to sing for him — also shared a sweet story about Buffett, “one of the kindest and most generous people.” , who gifted him a left-handed guitar while on vacation together. He also revealed that Buffett had played another role for him Equal load on all parts songs, and the former Beatle specifically praised “Bubbles Up,” which Buffett co-wrote with “honorary Coral Reefer” Will Kimbrough. McCartney recalled: “I told him that not only was the song great, but the vocals were probably the best I’ve ever heard him sing.”
Referring to that song’s title, a reference to capsized sailors following bubbles to the water’s surface to avoid drowning, McCartney explained: “He turned a diving phrase used to train people underwater into a metaphor for life when you confused and don’t know where you are, just follow the bubbles – they will take you to the surface and get you right again right away.
The third Equal load on all parts the song released this week is “Like My Dog,” noted dog lover Buffett’s ode to his “devoted pack of dogs” — Lola, Kingston, Pepper, Rosie, Ajax and Kody — who were his companions during his final days. Other guests on the album, which was produced by Coral Reefer Band members Michael Utley and Mac McAnally, include Emmylou Harris (a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mozambique,” which Harris originally sang on in 1976), Angélique Kidjo, Lennie Gallant , and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The record’s title is inspired by Buffett’s grandfather’s description of a nice nap – which takes on a poignant new meaning after the artist’s death.
McCartney is just one of many rock legends to pay tribute to Buffett this past week. After Buffett’s death, another friend, James Taylor, dedicated a cover of “Mexico” to Buffett onstage on Long Island, and on Thursday night as the Eagles — whose bassist/singer Timothy B. Schmit was once a member of Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band – kicked off their farewell tour The Long Goodbye at New York’s Madison Square Garden, playing Buffett’s ‘Come Monday’ and ‘Fins’. Don Henley of the Eagles told the MSG crowd: “[Buffett] brought joy to everything he did, including work. And one of his last wishes was that we keep the party going.”
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