Maybe we'll never have Sweet Home Alabama or The Devil Went Down to Georgia. We can definitely let go of the dream of staking claim to a standard like New York, New York.
But when it comes to associating songs with our state, Florida is no slouch. This weekend brings Pitbull, a.k.a. Mr. 305, a.k.a. Mr. Worldwide, in concert at Amalie Arena. As pop music/culture critic Jay Cridlin explores in this issue, Visit Florida (and in part you, taxpayers) is paying Pitbull to act as a tourism ambassador. Who can blame them? Mr. Bull has at least one song that proclaims, "Sexy beaches! Hotels!"
Jay also explores some of Pitbull's more Florida-centric songs, and they are plentiful. But in case the state's relationship with Pitbull ever goes south (ba-dum-cha), we have some backup suggestions for iconic Florida music. Surely, these artists are waiting by the phone.
'Floridays' by Jimmy Buffett
Buffett would already be an obvious choice, what with his army of Parrotheads and what I can only imagine as a Calvin and Hobbes-style closet of matching tropical T-shirts. This particular song is a little far reaching — he talks about spending some time in "old Beirut." But, like any good Florida child, Buffett finds his way back to us. "I'm back to livin' Floridays/Blue skies and ultraviolet rays/Lookin' for better days, lookin' for better days/Lookin' for Floridays."
'Key Largo' by Bertie Higgins
What could be more romantic than '80s soft rock inamorato Higgins, his feathered hair blowing in the breeze on a boat, snuggled up with his one and only? NOTHING. "We had it all/Just like Bogie and Bacall/Starring in our old late, late show/Sailing away to Key Largo." Our movie critic Steve Persall knows the Tarpon Springs native personally, and reported the news this year when Higgins got himself a sort-of knighthood from a group called the "Imperial Order of Culture and Peace." So, that has to elevate his chances with the state, right?
'Miami' by Will Smith
Listen. It's too soon for Florida to step back to 1998 and crown Smith's ode to the 305 as a jam in any official capacity. It's just … not ironic enough yet. Maybe in another five years or so, when everyone is wearing silk shirts again, this song will become the kind of nostalgic fodder that reignites the club. After all, remember: "I only came for two days of playing/But every time I come I always wind up stayin'/This the type of town I could spend a few days in/Miami the city that keeps the roof blazin'." It was true then, and it's true now. Just ask Pitbull.