When it comes to inspiring catchy pop songs, not all states are created equal.
With apologies to the fine folks in Idaho or South Dakota, some destinations just don’t evoke that kind of travel urge, passion, or emotional connection.
No such problem in Florida, however.
Over the years, the Sunshine State has generated more than its share of signature hits, many of which have been written and performed by bands with deep roots in the sands, from Panhandle to the Keys.
For some music fans, the connection starts with Jimmy Buffett, an obvious presence on any Florida songlist, but he’s got plenty of company.
This summer, Florida songs are in the spotlight again with the debut solo release of Florida Georgia Line singer (and Florida resident) Brian Kelley, writing about his formative years in Volusia County.
Following:With “Florida Boy Forever”, Brian Kelley from Ormond Beach celebrates his roots
Here is a list of the top 10 to spark debate on the best Florida music to come out of the Sunshine State. To start the conversation (more likely the debate), we’re focusing on acts with roots here, making songs that are about here.
So although Aerosmith’s “Last Child” (with his line “Take me back to South Tallahassee”) may be a rocker, we will have to wait now. Or you can add it to the playlist, along with all the other favorite Florida songs, in the comments.
“Florida Boy Forever”, Brian Kelley
Kelley’s first solo album, “Sunshine State of Mind,” is loaded with Florida-centric songs from start to finish, but this breezy beach anthem obviously qualifies as a hometown favorite in Volusia County. A native of Ormond Beach who now lives in the Panhandle, Kelley returned home to shoot the music video for the song, featuring landmarks such as the Tomoka River and featuring cameos of familiar faces, including his former trainer from Seabreeze High School baseball, Anthony Campanella.
“Sexy beaches”, Pitbull
The Miami-born rapper celebrates sand, surf and fun in this 2016 single and music video starring singer Chloe Angelides. Ultimately, however, the beautiful people, beaches and scenes of the historic Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach were overshadowed by controversy when details revealed that Pitbull had been paid $ 1 million by Visit. Florida to promote the state’s tourism industry through music videos, social media and concerts, a figure that Visit Florida has been trying to cover up. Yet music and video remain a powerful argument for the state’s appeal.
“Back to Daytona”, Floyd Miles
Hailing from Daytona Beach, the R&B singer broke racial barriers in the 1960s to influence young teenage musicians Duane and Gregg Allman. Although the Allmans and other musicians he influenced sought the spotlight elsewhere, Miles remained at Daytona Beach until his death in 2018 at the age of 74. This swing blues song, the title track from its 1994 Kingsnake Records release, gained national exposure a year later. when CBS Sports used it as the musical theme for that year’s Daytona 500.
“Gainesville”, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Arguably Gainesville’s most beloved musical son, Petty embraced his roots throughout a 40-year Hall of Fame rock’n’roll career that ended abruptly with his unexpected death in 2017 at the age 66. In this posthumous nod to his hometown, the singer recounts his brawl debut (“Gainesville was a big town”) in a song accompanied by a music video based on nostalgic imagery.
“Seminole Wind”, John Anderson
Born in Apopka, Anderson marked his country hit with the sassy “Swingin ‘” in 1983. Almost a decade later, he bounced back from a career lull with “Seminole Wind,” a hard-hitting anthem that touched the environmental damage to the Everglades, Chief Osceola and the Seminole Indian Wars. “From ancient times / Men searched for untold riches / They dug for silver and gold / And left the holes empty.”
“The last mango in Paris”, Jimmy Buffett
No Florida songlist would be complete without a nod to the state’s most visible and enduring ambassador. Indeed, a list of songs from Buffett alone would be enough to spark a long debate, but it’s worth looking past “Margaritaville” and other obvious contenders for less-cited gems such as “Last Mango in. Paris”. The song was inspired by the adventures of legendary Key West Saloon Captain Captain Tony Tarracino, a key connection to Buffett’s early days in Florida.
“Moving to Miami”, Enrique Iglesias
Another of Miami’s famous residents, Iglesias teamed up with Pitbull and others for this propulsive dance floor featured on the soundtrack of “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” a 2020 film based on the reality series. truTV of the same name. The motivation to move is on the dance floor: “She’ll leave you shaken up / And now you’re hooked / The way she dances / She’s going to make you move to Miami.”
“St. Pete Florida Blues”, Ray Charles
Born in the small town of Greenville, Florida, Ray Charles attended the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine and traveled extensively in the state early in his music career. The languid “St. Pete Florida Blues,” first written and recorded at a Tampa boarding house in 1950, is widely regarded as one of the first songs he ever documented. Eventually re-recorded in 1961, the song still reflects the singer’s connection to the state.
“The Ballad of Curtis Loew”, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Written by band members Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins, the song tells the story of a young boy who collected bottles to raise money so that an old man who was hanging out at a local store could play his Dobro. . Curtis Loew was fictional, but the store was not. Sadly, Jacksonville’s Woodcrest Grocery Building, once known as Claude in the 1950s and 1960s, was demolished in September to make way for residential construction. At least the song stays.
“Conga”, Gloria Estefan, Miami Sound Machine
Of course, the lyrics to Estefan’s signature 1985 hit don’t specifically refer to the Sunshine State, but Miami’s music scene wouldn’t exist without the seminal influence of the Miami Sound Machine. Likewise, the song connects the infectious beat to Cuban roots at the base of South Florida’s cultural scene. “Let the music move your feet / It’s the beat of the island / Like sugar cane so sweet.”
In another life, News-Journal member Jim Abbott was a music critic in Florida, one of the all-time dream jobs in the world. He still likes nothing better than singing and playing songs with a little help from his friends.