Friday, September 28, 2007

Singing the Florida blues

Do you think it's time for Florida to adopt a new state song?

For the record, our "official'' song is the 1851 Stephen Foster standard "Swanee River (Old Folks at Home),'' which was adopted in 1935.

Written by a great American musical storyteller and commemorating a river (actually, the Suwannee) that flows across Florida to the Gulf of Mexico, it's a song about yearning for your beloved home. I always assumed that Foster must have known the river and its people to have captured the dreamy sentiment so well.

Apparently Foster never even visited Florida, which shouldn't disqualify "Swanee River'' as the state song. However, folks have complained for years about the southern black dialect Foster used for lyrics. Specifically, the song contains a reference to "darkeys'' which many find racially offensive.

Now a movement is under way — again — to replace "Swanee River'' with a new state song. The Florida Music Educators' Association is leading the search, and more than 100 entries have been received. (Details are available at

And, as education reporter Sylvia Lim wrote in today's Herald, our own Rowlett Elementary boys choir has submitted a version of the song with new lyrics written by music teacher Dave Walters.

There's no harm in having some musical fun. If Foster were alive he might even submit a new song himself for consideration. But no doubt there are much bigger decisions facing Florida's future, so we hope the Legislature doesn't get all hog-tied on this in the next session.

Anybody for Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville''?


1 comment:

The Master said...

Florida is such a diverse state, we really need a different song for each region.
The gulf coast can't share a song with the east coast; they're too different. As is central Forida. As is north Florida.
It's all part of what makes us the greatest state in the union. It's what separates us from, say, Missouri or some other god-forsaken place like that.

Here are a couple of suggestions (and sample lyrics) from The Master:

For the Keys, Jimmy Buffett's "Migration":
Most of the people who retire in Florida
Are wrinkled and they lean on a crutch
And mobile homes are smotherin' my Keys
I hate those bastards so much
I wish a summer squall would blow them all
The way up to fantasy land
Yeah they're ugly and square, they don't belong here
They looked a lot better as beer cans

For central Florida, from Mofro's Lochloosa:
Lord have mercy knows - how much I love it
Every mosquito every rattlesnake
Every cane break - everything
Every alligator every blackwater swamp
Every freshwater spring - everything
All we need is one more damn developer
Tearing her heart out
All we need is one more Mickey Mouse
Another golf course another country club
Another gated community
Lord I need her
Lord I need her
And she's slipping away

(As you can tell, The Master is not overly fond of developers.)