Florida Needs A New Song

November 9, 2011

After tossing and turning for hours and hours last night, I finally gave up and made my way to the computer.  For some reason I started wondering about the Florida State Song.  So what better way to cure insomnia than with a little trivia.

In 1913, Florida My Florida was adopted as the state song. True, it befitted the times, with lyrics such as:

 The golden fruit the world outshines
Florida, my Florida,
Thy gardens and thy phosphate mines,
Florida, my Florida,

In country, town, or hills and dells,
Florida, my Florida,
The rythmic chimes of the school bells
Florida, my Florida,

Will call thy children day by day
To learn to walk the patriot’s way
Firmly to stand for thee for aye
Florida, my Florida.

Yet, digging a little deeper, you find that the melody of the song is taken from another state song, Maryland My Maryland.  This is hardly acceptable for an independent Florida.

In 1935 the Florida Congress, in its infinite wisdom, replaced Florida My Florida  with The Swanee River,  otherwise known as Old Folks at Home, as the state song.  I understand that the song’s composer, Stephen Foster, is a cultural icon of sorts, but the guy never even set foot in Florida, much less visited the Swanee River.  It’s even reported that the only reason he used Swanee in the song was because its cadence happened to fit nicely in the music he had already composed.  It was an afterthought, not an inspiration. I say our state politicians at the time were caught up more in celebrities than state patriotics.

Obviously it’s time for a change.  Florida needs a new song.

A quick look around netted three Florida-themed songs presently out there.

One, Florida by Patty Griffin, quickly falls out of contention when it starts with: 

A couple of young girls went sailing down A1A
Into the arms of Florida, sailing down the highway
Singing their heads off, protected by the holy ghost
Flying in from the ocean, driving with their eyes closed

The next find was that of a song entitled Moving to Florida by the very mature sounding group Butthole Surfers. Their brilliance starts out like this:

Well, well I been movin’ down to Florida.
And I’m gonna bowl me a perfect game.
Well I’m gonna cut off my leg down in Florida, child.
And I’m gonna dance one-legged off in the rain

I braved one more find, which was Florida by Mofra.  At least this one makes a statement, with lyrics like this:

Now skyscrapers and superhighways
Are carved through the heart of Florida
Building sub-divisions while the swamps are drained
Makin’ room for people and amusement parks

It’s like watchin’ someone you love die slow
Yeah, they’re killin’ her one piece at a time
I know some fools who think I should let go
But they never seen Florida through my eyes

Florida I know you’re out there hidin’ from me
You get harder and harder to find
Everyday she keeps slippin’ away
Florida, please don’t fade on me now

I’m hoping there’s something better out there. Or at least someone willing to step up and write something better.

Florida needs a new song.

And I need some sleep.

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A Floridian in Texas

September 10, 2010

Instead of staying in Florida this past Labor Day Weekend, we decided to wander around the great state of Texas.  

Of course you can’t see all of Texas in just four days, so we chose the area west of San Antonio.  We based ourselves in Del Rio, on the Mexican border, and started wandering.  The title lyrics to the song Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks kept playing in my head, over and over again, as we drove through wide open land full of cacti, blooming sagebrush, longhorn cattle, horses, and goats.  We explored breathtaking caverns and canyons, and hiked mysterious trails.  We even recovered from a u-turning vulture that slammed into our rental car.  And we sat in the hot sun, eating ice cream, taking in the scenery that is Texas. 

Did I think of my home state of Florida during those wanderings?  Absolutely.  For example, as we enjoyed the views on our drive to Sonora Caverns, we ended up on I-10 for a few miles. Oddly enough, I never equated our I-10 with the rest of the country.  The Interstate that starts in Jacksonville does not end in the Florida Panhandle.  Instead it continues across 8 states before ending at the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California.  The difference here in Texas, however, is a lawful speed limit of 80 miles per hour.  

The Lone Star Flag of Texas

I also thought of Florida after seeing several Texas State Flags flying high -at ranches, banks, homes, restaurants and just about anywhere else you can think of. This was the case throughout our wanderings.  Texans are proud of their flag, proud of being Texans.  Matt and I sat dumbfounded one day, trying to recall exactly what the Florida State Flag looks like.  We blamed it on the fact that we rarely see it hanging at residences in our neighborhood or beyond.  Are the Texans more proud of being Texans than Floridians are of being Floridians? 

State Flag of Florida

I also thought of the Sunshine State on Monday night after we clicked on our hotel television set for the first time and saw the wrath of Tropical Storm Hermine which came ashore around Brownsville, Texas.  Trackers had it heading straight for San Antonio on Tuesday, the day we were to fly back to Florida. Fortunately we had no problems getting out of Texas.  But it did remind me that Texas and Florida do share the seasonal threat of tropical storms and hurricanes just the same. 

It’s always wonderful to travel to a place different from your own, but it’s also wonderful to return home again.  And Florida is home.   But if I couldn’t live here, Texas would be a top contender for my weekly wanderings.