Jimmy Buffett’s Song About Elvis Presley’s Death Gives Him A Different Side

Jimmy Buffett’s Song About Elvis Presley’s Death Gives Him A Different Side | Society Of Rock Videos

via Jimmy Buffett Official / Youtube

After the world was startled by Elvis Presley’s passing, many authors, filmmakers, and singers were inspired. “Elvis Presley Blues,” a song by Jimmy Buffett about the tragedy that appears to make reference to Elvis’ connections to the Black community, is one example. Especially noteworthy is the fact that “Elvis Presley Blues” is a classic from one of the best albums of the 2000s.

Comparison of Elvis and John Henry

Jimmy Buffett, known for his upbeat hits like “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Margaritaville,” takes an unexpected turn with his cover of “Elvis Presley Blues.” This song diverges from his usual cheerful repertoire, delving into a more somber and unsettling narrative.

In “Elvis Presley Blues,” Buffett reflects on the tragic end of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He pays homage to Elvis’ iconic dancing and charismatic appearance while also shedding light on the loneliness that often accompanied his immense success.

Interestingly, the song also references another American legend, John Henry, a formidable Black steelworker who famously bested a machine in a renowned folk ballad. In this melancholic tune, Henry seemingly rejoices in Elvis’s demise.

This comparison of Elvis and Henry is thought-provoking, considering Elvis’s complex relationship with Black music. It suggests that Elvis has become an integral part of American folklore, blending two iconic figures from different eras into a single narrative.

How Gillian Welch Wrote a Song About the Industry’s Crisis

Gillian Welch, not Warren Buffett, was the original artist behind the song “Elvis Presley Blues,” which made its debut on the album titled Time (The Revelator). Several other musicians, including Grace Potter, Joan Baez, and Elvis’ close friend Tom Jones, have also covered this song.

In a 2021 interview with Rolling Stone, Welch was asked about the recurring theme of feeling threatened in her album. She explained:

“It’s a major theme of the record.
“I don’t think of it as ‘threat’ so much as peril. We felt like our ability to be artists, like, for our career, was really in jeopardy. I felt really raw and alone. There was a strong feeling that it was just [producer] Dave [Rawlings] and I against the world. [We] just felt impossibly alienated and disconnected.”

Welch went on to draw a comparison to the prevalent theme of post-apocalyptic art, stating:

“In a weird way, I think Revelator is pre-apocalyptic art. We had already felt the tremor and saw the foundation washing away. We saw it coming. It’s like when there’s a tsunami coming, and you just see the water going out, out, out. That’s what this time period was. We just saw the water going out, out, out. The whole infrastructure of the music world was teetering and toppling, and we see what that’s begotten today.”

A Missed Billboard Hot 100 Opportunity

In addition to never becoming a single, “Elvis Presley Blues” failed to place on the Billboard Hot 100. On the album Take the Weather with You, the song was included. It spent 13 weeks at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 list with that song.

Although “Elvis Presley Blues” didn’t become a hit, it nonetheless offers a fascinating link between the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the King of the Parrotheads.

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