I’m a music fan. I grew up in the ’60’s listening to AM radio which played all kinds of Top 40 music like the Beatles, Beach Boys and Rolling Stones. In the late ’60’s I, like many other radio listeners, switched over to the FM dial. The music played on that medium was much less structured and offered not only some of the popular tunes, but also included folk, soul, southern rock and the California Sound. I loved all of it.
In 1977 the FM station I was listening to played a song called “Margaritaville.” At the time I was living in Louisville, Kentucky and the song hit this Florida boy like a hammer. It made me think of my beach life and how much I missed fresh shrimp and the smell and feel of the salt air. Unbeknownst to me this one song also struck a chord with a lot of snowbound northerners and began a new genre of music labeled Tropical Rock, or Trop Rock.
I finally made it back to Florida in the early 90’s and by that time there were lots of artists dabbling in trop rock with songs about sailing, sitting on a beach, drinking tequila and getting sand on your toes instead of snow on your boots. I began collecting those tunes and the invention of online music was my enabler. I downloaded the good with the not-so-good and became known as the beach and fishing music authority by friends and listeners of my weekend fishing and outdoors radio show.
So on that note, no pun intended, I offer readers a comprehensive list of the must-have music for those that don’t get to go to the beach, boat or fish nearly enough.
Just about anything sung by Jimmy Buffett will work. I know, most Floridians don’t listen to him all that much because we live here and in most cases live a life like his songs. Take a listen on those rare cloudy, rainy days. After all, he is the king of Trop Rock.
The heir apparent to JB is Kenny Chesney. He released a song called “How Forever Feels” in 1999 and mentioned Jimmy Buffett. That’s all it took. He obviously figured out the beach tune formula and has a lot of great island tunes. My personal favorite is “The Life.” It’s about fishing, playing guitar, hanging out at the bar with friends, loving your wife and being thankful to be able to do it each and every day.
Down in Key West at the Schooner Wharf Bar there’s a singer/songwriter named Michael McCloud. His songs are about kicking back in the islands and doing as little as possible. I like that. A lot. He has lots of original music that’s available on iTunes and he plays just about daily at Schooner Wharf. Be sure to give him a listen if you’re down that way.
I discovered The World’s Greatest Fishing Band by accident. I did a Google search about eight years ago “fishing music” and they popped up in a couple of places, but with very limited availability. I was able to listen to a couple of songs and knew right away I had hit a home run. I wound up ordering a 4-disc set called Papa Was A Fishin’ Man and have never regretted it. If you can find it, buy it. It will put a smile on any fisherman’s face.
Country music is loaded with artists that have at least one or two fishing, hunting or boating songs that are definitely worth adding to your music collection. Here’s a few to check out on iTunes… Alton Jones, Billy Currington, Brad Paisley, Little Big Town, Caroline Jones, Chris Janson and the Zac Brown Band. One of my personal favorites is by Alan Jackson. It’s called “Drive.” Give it a listen.
There are many, many more, so do what I did. Go online and do a search for fishing or beach songs. You may find that one song that takes you back again and again to that special beach or fishing hole.
Captain Rob Modys is a lifetime Florida outdoorsman and retired spin & fly fishing guide. He is past president and board chairman of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and serves on the board of the Florida Guides Association.