Florida is a unique state in many ways, from its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and amazing theme parks. There’s a lot to love in The Sunshine State, and there’s no doubt a ton of memorable songs about Florida worth discussing in depth. So without further ado, let jump right to it!
Songs About Florida You Will Love
Let’s begin with a song by Ocean Avenue
1) Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard
In the song “Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard, the Florida native band, finds themselves reminiscing over their days spent on Ocean Boulevard in Atlantic Beach in Jacksonville. In an interview with The Boston Phoenix, Yellowcard’s guitarist Ben Harper said, “it’s the place where we used to hang out in Jacksonville. Instead of talking about a girl, it’s talking about a scene and a feeling that we want to get back to hanging out and writing before we moved to California”.
The songs opening lyrics are inspired by a journal of Ryan Key, who mainly wrote songs about growing up in Jacksonville, Florida. The lyrics mainly refer to Key’s memories of being in high school and living in Florida. This song has a beachy, California vibe to it but it reminds you of a more laid-back and beautiful Florida scenery.
2) Florida Kilos by Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey featured “Florida Kilos” as a bonus track on her Ultraviolence album, with a glorifying topic of the cocaine scene in South Florida. One of the things Florida was known for from the 70s to the 90s was its cocaine, particularly in Miami. Lana Del Rey has said that her inspiration for the song was inspired by the documentary Cocaine Cowboys. To me, this song sounds like Miami afternoons; with flavored mixed drinks and the ocean waves glittering in the hot summer sun. The instrumentals pair perfectly with Lana Del Rey’s voice and create this beautiful piece of music. This is the perfect summer song to listen to while on vacation in Florida.
3) Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
After he finished a tour with his group, the Coral Reefer Band, Jimmy Buffett wrote this song while he was in Key West, Florida. The band had just finished touring and Jimmy spent a while drinking margaritas at a Mexican restaurant before they traveled back to Key West. Once he reached the Florida Keys, he was at the Old Anchor Inn watching traffic and used the song as inspiration. In an interview with Sound On Sound, producer Norbert Putnam described Jimmy the days before recording saying, “one day in the studio, (Buffett) comes in and starts telling me about a day he had in Key West. He was coming home from a bar and he lost one of his flip-flops and he stepped on a beer can top and he couldn’t find the salt for his margarita.”
Norbert Putnam knew after hearing Jimmy Buffett’s record “Margaritaville” it was going to be a huge hit. This is the perfect song to listen to at the beach and has a really good vibe. I love how listening to this song, even on a bad day, can instantly teleport you to a memory of a good time and make you feel like you are on a mini beach vacation.
4) Florida Man by Blue Oyster Cult
“Florida Man” is a part of The Symbol Remains album, the Blue Oyster Cult’s first album in 19 years. The song teases that Floridians are cursed by the Seminoles as punishment for the horrific treatment the tribe received from the conquistadors. In an interview with The Herald-Tribune, Blue Oyster Cult guitarist Donald Roeser said, “The idea of that song is that there’s a reason why the Florida Man exists. It’s the Seminole curse from back in the conquistador days.”
The song teases that the stereotypical “Floridian” that you often see on national news doing something crazy is due to the Seminole curse. Floridians are known for being “crazy” and have a lot of things in their state that is actively trying to kill them- like snakes, alligators, hurricanes, drugs, and being on drugs. If you are a fan of hard rock and love a good gag song, “Florida Man” is worth a listen.
5) Key Largo by Bertie Higgins
Bertie Higgins grew up in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and spent a huge amount of time in the Florida Keys. “Key Largo” was based on the 1948 movie of the same name, as well as a failed relationship. Higgins and his girlfriend loved watching old movies, with the 1948 Key Largo movie being their favorite. Their relationship didn’t last and she moved out, after two years Higgins knew the only way to reach her was through a song, so he wrote “Key Largo” after the movie, and she did eventually return.
Though the song is loosely based on the movie, it does mention a lot of favorites in Key Largo like sailing and romance. I have been to numerous fine dining restaurants in Florida and I have frequently heard this song playing, it’s often called Florida’s love song. The soft melody of the instruments makes you feel like you are sailing away and leaving all of your problems behind.
6) Sweet Florida by Van Zant
Van Zant released this new song on April Fool’s Day 2022, leaving many listeners thinking that this was a joke. The song is based around the state of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis’ stance on not locking down the state when Covid-19 hit. Johnny and Donnie Van Zant wrote this song for DeSantis as he plans on running for reelection this year and is raising campaign funds from merchandise related to the song.
Whether or not you agree with the Covid-19 stance that Florida took, music is timeless and in 100 years we will be able to look back on this song and get a sense of America’s political climate and how strongly both sides feel. As the brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ronnie Van Zant, it’s no surprise that Johnny Van Zant made this song have a lot of similarities to the famous “Sweet Home Alabama” anthem. If you love Florida, with all the good and bad combined, this would be a great song to listen to.
7) Florida by Patty Griffin
There is no arguing that Patty Griffin’s music is always full of raw emotion and extremely relatable. In “Florida” Patty Griffin talks a lot about the beauty of Florida and the different experiences that she and others have had in the sunshine state. The lyrics talk about snowbirds who come down from cold states in the winter, to how she is lonely and feels like she has nothing left for her in Florida, but stays for some reason. The acoustics for this song accompanies Griffin’s voice so well that it can easily move you to tears. Even though many may think of Florida as a vacation state, many residents do not feel that way and just want to leave the state. If you like soothing sounds and soft melodies in your music “Florida” is worth a listen.
8) Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky) by Jan Hilton
In 2007, the state of Florida held a contest to choose the new state song, and on January 11th, 2008, this song by Jan Hilton was announced as the winner. However, a disagreement followed and many felt that it should not replace “The Old Folks At Home” state song. So, the Florida Senate made a compromise and kept “The Old Folks At Home” as the state song and made “Florida (Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky)” the state anthem.
Jan Hilton was able to write a state anthem all about the beauty and wonder of Florida. The sawgrass that is prevalent in the Everglades, beautiful flowers, endless sunshine, and even the notorious Florida alligators all get a mention in this song. This song can commonly be heard at political rallies in Florida, sports games, and in schools learning about Florida’s history. I think it’s a beautiful song that encapsulates the beauty of Florida and portrays the state in a positive light.
9) Mainline Florida by Eric Clapton
“Mainline Florida” was a song written by George Terry, whom Eric Clapton hired as a full-time member of the band to record the 461 Ocean Boulevard album. This is the last track on the album and broke off from the tone that the rest of the album has. During his outgoing solo on the track, Eric Clapton used a talk box. The album 461 Ocean Boulevard was written after a 3-year heroin bender that Eric Clapton was on.
“Mainline Florida” is about the time that he spent living at 461 Ocean Boulevard and doing drugs while he was there. This whole album was Clapton’s way of showing his fans that he was done with that part of his life but to also shed some light on what was going on in not only Florida but all over the country with drug addiction.
10) The Everglades by Waylon Jennings
There is no place on earth like Florida to escape to and relax. The beaches are beautiful and the sunshine is endless. But there is a different side to Florida, the wild side. From the very first line of “The Everglades,” the song screams Floridian identity. Waylon Jennings sings a song about a young man born in Jacksonville, Florida, and follows him after a murder. The man runs all the way to the Everglades, which is a dangerous natural wetland in southern Florida.
The man hides here and Waylon says he is most likely going to die in there before the authorities can get to him. This song paints a pretty realistic picture of how dangerous the Florida Everglades can be, it is not a place that you want to go into without knowing what you are doing. I love how this song tells a story and the progression of the timeline that Waylon Jennings plays out. This song is worth a listen if you like songs that tell a story about people’s lives.
Each song about Florida paints a different part of the same picture of the Sunshine State. The songs about Florida are so diverse, as there is music that can fit anyone’s taste. Whether you are from Florida and looking for some songs to remind you of home, or just looking at what the state is all about, these songs are great for setting the laid back, beach vibe you desire.