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We made a playlist for Tampa Bay

These tracks shed a musical light on life in our home.

A crowd gathers at a concert in St. Pete. The outdoor show is at dusk, with the sun casting a yellow-orange sunset glow into blue skies with a few wispy clouds around. An apartment complex is in the background, and the crowd in the foreground is facing right toward a stage with musicians performing.

Did we just make the playlist of the summer?

“Alexa, crank up the volume.” It’s time to put some TBAY tunes on. Here are a few tracks we put together in an homage to the Tampa Bay area.

“Florida!!!” by Taylor Swift
You can’t escape her. In Swift’s recent release, she sings, “Barricaded in the bathroom with a bottle of wine. Well, me and my ghosts, we had a hell of a time.” That sounds a lot like a night in one of Ybor City’s haunted bars.

“Gator Country” by Molly Hatchet
The Jacksonville-formed band released this song in the late 1970s. In its lyrics, late lead singer Danny Joe Brown calls “Tampa town... a mighty fine place to be.” Brown says “they got green grass and they got high tides and sure looks good to me.” We’ll second that, just look at our parks.

“St. Pete Florida Blues” by Ray Charles
The legendary performer gets bluesy about a lost St. Pete love. Sounds like a snow bird in May. Fun fact: Charles played at St. Pete’s Manhattan Casino several times in the 1950s.

“Killer Parties” by The Hold Steady
Speaking of snow birds, there are several Tampa Bay mentions in this Brooklyn band’s discography. Specifically, members of The Hold Steady seem to be fond of Ybor City’s nightlife. This song was the band’s first mention of the neighborhood, which reads, “Ybor City is tres speedy, but they throw such killer parties.”

A black and white photo of Ray Charles playing the piano and singing. His iconic sunglasses are on and he's wearing a patterned suit which singing into a microphone.

Ray Charles seemingly fell in love with and in St. Pete.

“I Remember Everything” by John Prine
After decades in the spotlight, Prine chose the Gulfport sunlight as home for his final years. The country-folk legend passed away in 2020, the same year he won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. This tearjerker won two Grammys the following year.

“Lovely Day” by Bill Withers
“When I wake up in the mornin’ love, and the sunlight hurts my eyes.” We’re blessed with lovely days in TBAY, including a world record 768 straight days of sunshine in St. Pete.

“Lightning Bolt” by Jake Bugg
Double entendre alert. When the English singer-songwriter sings, “I walk right into the path of a lightning bolt,” he may be singing about an encounter with a Bolts fan. Or maybe he got unlucky during a summer round of golf.

“Wellerman” by Nathan Evans
Evans’ viral cover of a 1970s folk song revived the sea shanty genre in certain circles — and even put them in night clubs. Whether it’s Gasparilla or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the local relevance of a musical genre associated with pirates needs no further explanation.

The flotilla at Gasparilla. There are hundreds of boats behind the pirate ship, all riding toward the City of Tampa during the annual event. There is smoke emerging from the pirate ship.

Petition for more Tampa Bay-themed sea shanties.

Photo by Kiera Andrews

“Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd
Any excuse to relive the Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at Raymond James Stadium. And the Bucs’ win, obviously.

“Ocean Eyes” by Billie Eilish
If you “can’t stop staring at those ocean eyes,” you might be on a pristine Pinellas County beach. Perhaps the sun is dropping into the Gulf of Mexico, making “napalm skies.”

“Paradise” by Coldplay
Friendly reminder: We live where other people vacation. If you’re saving these tracks for your commute, remember to notice the palm trees that line the highway, and the pelican gliding alongside you above calm Bay waters. If you’re like Bill Withers, and the sun hurts your eyes, imagine cold gray skies. No need to dream of a “para-para-paradise” here. See also: “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses.

Would you look at that? We put these tracks into a Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure. If we’ve forgotten any TBAY tunes, please send in your suggestions.

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