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Jimmy Buffett, who died this month at 76, was best known for one thing: making an island-friendly country-rock concoction that millions of listeners found to be a balm. He turned that balm into big business — “Margaritaville,” the song, was his lone Top 10 hit, and Margaritaville, the business he built atop it, became a licensing juggernaut and netted countless millions in revenue.
But Buffett was other things as well — a clever, cheeky songwriter; a musician who fused styles from various regions; someone who held firm to his political values even if he only sometimes infused his songs with them.
On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about Buffett’s unlikely rise to niche stardom; how he turned a way of life into a song, and that song back into a very profitable way of life; and the way in which his music sometimes extends beyond lifestyle soundtrack and into knottier emotional (and sometimes) political territory.