A few months back, my girlfriend Sharona and I road-tripped from St. Petersburg to Atlanta to seek out nerdtastic Walking Dead filming locations.
Despite myriad warnings from friends and Floridians about the intensity of Georgia state troopers – much more fearsome than zombies, they insisted – I moronically mashed the gas anyway… and was busted in Dooly County, Ga. Fine: $460!!! For the rest of our journey, I toodled around Driving Miss Daisy-style, cruising the Peach State at 37 mph.
Long, costly, I’m-an-idiot story short: I’ve never been so happy to come home. Welcome to Florida indeed! In fact, while crossing our glorious state line, blissfully headed south into paradise, I started thinking up fun, fast, festive tracks for my third Summer Playlist for the good folks at VISIT FLORIDA.
Now, it’s time for the ultimate Florida road trip, boys and girls.
From Jacksonville to Carol City to Key West, from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Flo Rida to Jimmy Buffett, here are 50 tunes perfect for driving through Vacationland, U.S.A.
Along the way, we’ll share some history, indulge in local pride and share a margarita or three. Some of the music picks are sneaky and cheeky; some are just meant for dancing. This is our most-groovin’ playlist yet, so buckle up, roll down the window and crank that radio!
CROSSING THE GEORGIA-FLORIDA BORDER
1. I Can’t Drive 55, Sammy Hagar
2. Cruise, Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly
3. Are You Ready for the Summer? Lisa Loeb (Yep, the theme from Meatballs.)
4. Holiday Road, Lindsey Buckingham (Yep, the theme from National Lampoon’s Vacation. After all, Clark W. Griswold is the patron saint of this playlist.)
You know who’s from Jacksonville? All of these knuckly dudes.
5. Ramblin’ Man, the Allman Brothers Band
6. What’s Your Name, Lynyrd Skynyrd
7. Hold On Loosely, .38 Special
8. Flirtin’ With Disaster, Molly Hatchet
9. Take a Look Around, Limp Bizkit
10. C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train), Quad City DJs
Oh, and this guy . . .
11. Wang Dang Taffy Apple Tango (Mambo Cha Cha Cha), Pat Boone
12. Corduroy, Pearl Jam (Did you know Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready is from Pensacola? Interviewed him a few years back. Swell guy.)
13. Boys ’Round Here, Blake Shelton
14. Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’), T-Pain (T-Pain, aka Faheem Rasheed Najm, was born here.)
15. I Don’t Believe a Word You Say, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite (This is my thinly veiled nonpartisan political jab, a face-meltingly ferocious cut.)
16. Six Days on the Road, Mudcrutch (Mudcrutch was formed in Gainesville in 1970, just a bunch of young local scruffs who would soon become . . . )
17. Make It Better (Forget About Me), Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
18. Go Faster, Black Crowes
19. Fastest Girl in Town, Miranda Lambert
20. Looking for Space, John Denver
Today’s Category: Former Disney Stars, Naughty Division!
21. We Can’t Stop, Miley Cyrus
22. Come & Get It, Selena Gomez
23. Crazy, Britney Spears
24. Candyman, Christina Aguilera
25. SexyBack, Justin Timberlake
26. Pineapple Princess, Annette Funicello (C’mon, those sweaters? Exactly.)
27. Walk the Dinosaur, Was Not Was (I really like Dinosaur World)
28. Strawberry Fields Forever, the Beatles
29. Maybe It Was Memphis, Pam Tillis (Pam is from here. Her father, country icon Mel Tillis, was born in Dover, Fla., and attended the University of Florida. Okay, not the most exciting trivia, but your Aunt Shirley will love it.)
30. Girls Girls Girls, Motley Crue
31. Pirate Flag, Kenny Chesney
32. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, the Rolling Stones (May 7, 1965. At the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, in the wee small hours of the morning, Keith Richards woke up in a stupor, somnambulantly recorded a riff into a tape machine, then passed out again. Much later, he woke up and presto! What he heard on the tape was none other than the otherworldly beginning of one of the greatest rock songs ever. Cool story, huh?)
33. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Aretha Franklin
34. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Otis Redding
ST. PETE BEACH
Both of these cuts are from the dizzying, downright awesome soundtrack for 2013 college-girls-in-trouble flick Spring Breakers, raucously shot on St. Pete Beach.
35. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, Skrillex
36. Hangin’ With da Dopeboys, James Franco & Dangeruss
37. Alley-Gator, ZZ Top
38. Summertime Blues, Alan Jackson (Just because.)
39. American Girl, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Can’t have enough Petty in Florida.)
40. American Girls, Counting Crows
41. Low, Flo Rida (Flo Rida, aka Tramar Lacel Dillard, was born here.)
42. Bugatti, Ace Hood feat. Future & Rick Ross (Rick Ross, aka William Leonard Roberts II, was raised here.)
43. Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway), Billy Joel
44. I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho), Pitbull
45. Everybody’s Talkin’, Harry Nilsson (Yep, the theme from Midnight Cowboy. Sure, totally depressing Miami connection, but a heartbreaking song. Long live Ratso!)
CRUISING DOWN A1A
46. The entirety of Jimmy Buffet’s 1974 album A1A, perhaps the greatest musical tribute to Florida living and lazing around. Man, I LOVE this record. Wanderlusty ballads don’t get much better than Trying to Reason With the Hurricane Season.
47. Key Largo, Bertie Higgins
48. Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First), John Mellencamp
49. Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows, Leslie Gore
50. Sweet Freedom, Michael McDonald (Before I had ever been to South Florida, I saw 1986 Billy Crystal-Gregory Hines buddy comedy Running Scared. McDonald’s hit plays during a funny-sexy montage of weary Chicago cops getting away, and getting lucky, in the Conch Republic. I became obsessed with the state – probably because I was watching the movie whilst snowbound and freezing my tuchus off in sub-zero Syracuse, N.Y. Even though I live here now, I’m still obsessed with Florida, top to bottom and all rockin’ cities in between. Happy Summer, everybody!)
Sean Daly is the pop music critic for the Tampa Bay Times.