It’s within 60 miles of the ocean from any spot in sunny Florida. Not all states are made perfect for creating memorable pop tunes. The Sunshine State produced a slew of iconic songs throughout generations, most of which were written and produced by bands with solid roots in the sands from the Panhandle to the Keys.
Florida has always been a source of inspiration for artists and musicians. A compilation of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs honors the beautiful state of Florida.
These are the greatest songs about Florida for your event, party, songs about running or as a soundtrack to your presentation about the Sunshine State, from Florida’s state song to songs about Florida by famous and indie singers alike.
“Miami, My Amy” – Keith Whitley
A California guy is snared by love while touring Miami in this 1986 country tune. However, the protagonist’s Florida love interest, Amy, urges him to be sure of his amorous sentiments before committing.
He travels alone back to the west shore—love triumphs when the man doesn’t have time to unpack before Amy summons him back to Florida. The long-distance lovers chose to end the distance between them and get back together permanently.
Keith Whitley’s first Billboard country hit was “Miami, My Amy.” Three years later, in 1989, at the age of 34, the artist succumbed to alcohol intoxication. Lorrie Morgan, a country singer, was Whitley’s wife. He was on the verge of becoming a country superstar at his death.
“Florida Boy Forever” – Brian Kelley
“Sunshine State of Mind,” Kelley’s solo first album, is chock-full of Florida-themed tracks, but this breezy beach hymn is a Volusia County classic. Kelley, who grew up in Ormond Beach, came back home to film the video version of this song, which featured friendly faces such as his previous Seabreeze High School baseball coach Anthony Campanella and featured sites such as the Tomoka River.
“Old Folks at Home (Suwannee River)” – Stephen Foster
The first verse of the song, “Way Down Upon the Swanee River,” is sometimes used to refer to “Old Folks at Home.” In 1851, Stephen Foster penned the lyrics and melody for this song, but he couldn’t decide which river to use.
The “Pedee” of South Carolina was the original river he wrote about, but it had already been referenced in another minstrel song (“Ole Pee Dee” of 1844).
Thus, according to his brother Morrison Foster’s writings, he and Stephen looked through an atlas to find a river with a name that fit Foster’s melody.
Foster gained little credit for the song because it was written for Christy’s Minstrels. The state song of Florida is “Old Folks at Home.”
“Gainesville” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and his group, The Heartbreakers, were brought up in Gainesville, Florida, where the rock and alternative music industry was thriving. Petty, who was likely Gainesville’s most cherished musical son, championed his origins during a 40-year Hall-of-Fame rock ‘n’ roll legacy that ended prematurely in 2017 at 66.
The band was founded in 1976, and until Petty died in 2017, it had a long and illustrious career. This moderate homage to their town from 1994 is a rock ditty. The Grammy Award-winning ensemble earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was named into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“Goin’ Back to Daytona” – Floyd Miles
The R&B singer, a native of Daytona Beach, broke down racial boundaries in the 1960s to influence young artists, Duane and Gregg Allman. Even though the Allman Brothers and other musicians he inspired found fame abroad, Miles remained in Daytona Beach until his death in 2018 at 74.
This swinging blues song, the title track on his Kingsnake Records debut in 1994, received national attention a year later when CBS Sports adopted it as the theme music for the Daytona 500.
“Seminole Wind” – John Anderson
The spirit of the Seminoles, a Native American race is driven from their territory in Florida, is referenced in this 1992 country song. Seminole land was extensively intruded upon in the years following the Revolutionary War. The song also laments the dredging of the Florida Everglades for business and the consequent environmental degradation.
“Last Mango in Paris” – Jimmy Buffett
Without mentioning the state’s most prominent and abiding ambassador, no list of Florida songs would be completed. Certainly, a list of Buffett songs would be plenty to elicit heated arguments.
Still, it’s worth exploring past “Margaritaville” and other apparent contenders to less quotable classics like “Last Mango in Paris”. The song was inspired by the exploits of Captain Tony Tarracino of the renowned Significant West saloon, a pivotal link to Buffett’s early Florida days.
“Ocean Avenue” – Yellowcard
Yellowcard, a pop-punk band from Florida, is yet another example. The brand was founded in 1997 and lasted till 2017. They had modest success on the Billboard alt-rock chart, but “Ocean Avenue” was their only Top 40 song on the Billboard Hot 100, rendering these Florida boys a one-hit-wonder.
The Jacksonville locals delete Cherry Street and replace Ocean Boulevard with Ocean Avenue in this 2004 alt-rock tune for aesthetic purposes. The protagonist of the song portrays a teen love relationship on the seashore. He was a genuine connection, but he ended the relationship, which he later regretted.
“St. Pete Florida Blues” – Ray Charles
Ray Charles was born in the small town of Greenville, Florida, and attended the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine during his early years as a musician. The sluggish “St. Pete Florida Blues,” composed and initially recorded in a Tampa boarding house in 1950, is primarily regarded as one of his earliest recordings. The song was eventually re-recorded in 1961 and still displays the singer’s ties to Florida.
“Move to Miami” – Enrique Iglesias Feat. Pitbull
Magic City is also the bubble butt’ center, as per this infectious 2018 Latin pop song, with strong women who are “off the chain.” The song features a lighthearted chat involving two male buddies as they discuss how one of them has got the hots for a Miami woman. The way she pops and drops it is so enticing that the guy’s pal warns him that he will fall in love and relocate to Miami if he isn’t watchful. Pitbull was born in Miami, and Iglesias has lived there for many years.
It’ll be a joy to have a playlist with every song conveying a piece of Florida, whether you’ve lived in Florida, went on holiday at one of its beaches or theme parks, or just wanted to.