Plenty of songs have extolled the watery, nubile virtues of Miami, or even of Florida in general. But few -- beyond those by hyper-local artists based here -- have name-checked other specific locales in South Florida's tri-county area. Which is why "West Palm Beach," written by the folkie Bonnie "Prince" Billy under his on-and-off Palace Brothers moniker, is so surprising. Billy (born Will Oldham) is from Louisville, Kentucky, and his bittersweet, country-flavored paean to the city starts off pretty generically: "
I cant get the sand out of my shoes / This being in Florida's done a number on my blues / Just the way the women walk round here."
But why West Palm Beach specifically? Ah, the obvious answer comes in the second verse: "Grandma lives down the road." Still, it's kind of nice to hear an idealized little ditty about a place that's an unlikely subject for an outsider's song. Billy's version of West Palm doesn't, it seems, involve being stuck forever on westbound traffic on Okeechobee Road, or dodging table-dancing trophy wives at the City Place Opa to get to the faux-Rococo Muvico theater. (Then again, his song was written before City Place existed at all ... imagine that!)
The song first appeared in general release in the mid-Nineties as a Palace Brothers single; Billy later re-recorded it in 2004 for a solo disc, Bonnie "Prince" Billy Sings Greatest Palace Music. After the jump, listen to an MP3 of this later version of the song.
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(Photo by Florent Mazzolini, via www.dragcity.com)