Florida’s State Song and Anthem

Yes, Florida is special. We have 2 songs!

Ever since I was a small child, I remember singing the song “Suwannee River”. I’m not sure if it was just part of the culture where I grew up in Florida, though it was no where near the Suwannee River, or a song we sang at school. I never really paid attention to the lyrics, truly, the only words I remember are “way down upon the Suwannee River… la la la la…. that’s where my heart is turning ever, la la la la la la.” And of course the chorus “All the world is sad and dreary everywhere I roam. How my heart grows weary, far from the old folks at home.”

In 2007, it was agreed that the State Song should be changed because some of the lyrics were offensive. Another song was chosen, but then because so many were wanting the old song to stay, the decision was made to keep both, changing some of the lyrics in original State Song, Suwannee River (Old Folks at Home) to remove any reference to offensive connotations and keeping the new one as the Florida Anthem.

I am always torn in decisions like this because personally, I do not think we should stay attached to a song just because it was the first song chosen by Florida decision makers over 75 years ago. The writer of the song did not even visit Florida, he just wrote the song and needed a river name and after his brother referenced an Atlas, he decided on the Suwannee River as the reference in the lyrics. So, personally, even though I grew up singing the song, I did think it was time for a new one.

That being said, I am not crazy about the new selected anthem. It, for sure, is an anthem type song. It has all the parts and musicality that makes it sound like an anthem. But no one I know says “Flor-i-da” as the song separates out the consonants and emphasizes the “i”. It just doesn’t sit well with me as a native Floridian. In addition, it doesn’t touch on all of the features of our beautiful state. But for now, we have these 2 songs that represent our State.

Old Folks at Home (Suwannee River) – Florida State Song

Old Folks at Home (Suwannee River) Lyrics

Way down upon the Suwannee River,
Far, far away,
There’s where my heart is turning ever,
There’s where the old folks stay.
All up and down the whole creation,
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for my childhood station,
And for the old folks at home.

Chorus

All the world is sad and dreary
Everywhere I roam.
O dear ones, how my heart grows weary,
Far from the old folks at home.

2nd verse

All ‘round the little farm I wander’d,
When I was young;
Then many happy days I squander’d,
Many the songs I sung.
When I was playing with my brother,
Happy was I.
Oh, take me to my kind old mother,
There let me live and die.

3rd verse

One little hut among the bushes,
One that I love.
Still sadly to my memory rushes,
No matter where I rove.
When will I see the bees a humming,
All ‘round the comb?
When shall I hear the banjo strumming,
Down in my good old home.

Revised lyrics, adopted by the Center for American Music, Stephen Foster Memorial, at the University of Pittsburgh. For more details on the revised lyrics, see this article Senate Cleans up Lyrics of State Song.

Florida, Where Sawgrass Meets the Sky

Music and Lyrics by Jan Hinton

Florida, where the sawgrass meets the sky,
Florida, where our hearts will ever lie,
Sitting proud in the ocean like a sentinel true,
Always shielding your own, yet giving welcome.

Florida, land of flowers, land of light.
Florida, where our dreams can all take flight.
Whether youth’s vibrant morning or the twilight of years,
There are treasures for all who venture here in Florida.

Mockingbirds cry and ‘gators lie out in the sun,
Bridges span southward to the Keys and rockets skyward run,
The orange blossoms’ sweet perfume and fireworks fill the air,
And cultures rich our native people share.

Florida, where the sawgrass meets the sky,
Florida, where our hearts will ever lie,
Sitting proud in the ocean like a sentinel true,
Always shielding your own, yet giving welcome.

Florida, land of flowers, land of light.
Florida, where our dreams can all take flight.
Whether youth’s vibrant morning or the twilight of years,
There are treasures for all who venture here in Florida, Florida.

 

About the author

Patti Jewel

Content Marketing Expert and owner of a content focused digital agency. Patti is also a life-long Florida resident, beach lover, nature lover, who is always looking for the positive things to focus on in Florida.