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Famous songs about every state

  • Famous Songs About Every State
    1/ Phil Guest // Wikimedia

    Famous Songs About Every State

    It seems like you could come up with countless songs about some states. California’s sandy beaches and green valleys have inspired tracks by Tupac Shakur, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beach Boys and Johnny Cash, just to name a few. New York, Texas and Florida seem equally popular, but West Virginia or Indiana? Those states might be a little harder to find in album notes.  

    In a quest to find the most popular songs ever written about all 50 states, Stacker searched every corner of the internet. The tracks span all genres, topics and decades, but all reference or pay homage to at least one of the states. Read on for an interesting list of famous songs written about each state and their Spotify plays. Though you’ll find plenty of old favorites on this list, you might be surprised by the artists behind songs about Kansas, Washington and a few others.

  • Alabama
    2/ MCA Records // Wikicommons

    Alabama

    “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Spotify plays: 230,622,326

    Though this classic Southern rock jam is an ode to Alabama, it was actually written by a band from Jacksonville, Florida. Still, that fact doesn’t stop Alabamians from screaming the words at college football games and dive bars every time it comes on.

  • Alaska
    3/ Atco Records // Wikicommons

    Alaska

    “Road to Alaska” by the Bee Gees

    Spotify plays: 25,155

    This Bee Gees song actually mentions several states—Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio and Alaska—but focuses on the “road to Alaska” metaphor. The image of Alaska as a faraway, lonely place certainly comes through the song.

  • Arizona
    4/ Steve Alexander // WIkicommons

    Arizona

    “Take It Easy” by the Eagles

    Spotify plays: 68,675,913

    The small city of Winslow, Arizona got its moment in the spotlight when the Eagles recorded this hit track in 1972. Any girl in town with a flatbed Ford probably has a special affinity for the classic rock song.

  • Arkansas
    5/ Wikicommons

    Arkansas

    “Mary Queen of Arkansas” by Bruce Springsteen

    Spotify plays: 911,989

    Springsteen’s narrator croons this folk song to his lover Mary, who is pregnant out of wedlock. By the end of the verse, he’s got a plan to run away together to Mexico—far, far from their home in Arkansas.

  • California
    6/ mattbuck // WIkicommons

    California

     “California Gurls” by Katy Perry 

    Spotify plays: 161,359,374

    The pop star’s jam paints the Golden State in technicolor, with lines like “sun-kissed skin / bikinis on top.” While California isn’t all sandy beaches and tropical palm trees, residents still love singing along to the “West coast represent” sentiment.  

  • Colorado
    7/ Hughes Television Network // Wikicommons

    Colorado

    “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver

    Spotify plays: >1000

    John Denver’s song about a young man finding himself in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains paints an idyllic picture of the wilderness. You can almost see the majestic firs, craigy peaks, trickling streams and silver clouds.

  • Connecticut
    8/ Eric Carpenter // WIkicommons

    Connecticut

    “Connecticut” by Judy Garland

    Spotify plays: n/a

    Garland rates Connecticut above Paris, Naples, Montana and Capri in this love song to the state. She sings wistfully about its quaint villages, green hills and peaceful lakes in this homesick tune.

  • Delaware
    9/ NBC Television // Wikicommons

    Delaware

    “Delaware” by Perry Como

    Spotify plays: n/a

    It’s all about wordplay in this Perry Como song from 1959. He turns Delaware into a pun on “what did Dell wear,” California into “why did Cali phone ya?” and Minnesota into “she sipped a Minne-soda.”

  • Florida
    10/ Debby Wong // Shutterstock

    Florida

    “Floridays” by Jimmy Buffett

    Spotify plays: n/a

    Jimmy Buffett has become synonymous with beers on the beach, lazing in a lawn chair and throwing a few back in Margaritaville—the “Floridays” lifestyle, in other words. Even the relaxed melody of this song emphasizes the state’s low-key frame of mind.

  • Georgia
    11/ Carl Lender // Flickr

    Georgia

    “Devil Went Down to Georgia” by Charlie Daniels Band

    Spotify plays: 32,873,433

    “Devil Went Down to Georgia” might be one of the all-time country classics, thanks to the impressive fiddling, rapid-fire wordplay and toe-tapping melody. The image of the devil crouched on a hickory stump, playing the fiddle so fast that fire shoots out his fingertips  is hard to get out of in your mind.

  • Hawaii
    12/ Dutch National Archkves

    Hawaii

     “Happy Hawaii” by ABBA

    Spotify plays: 995,964

    A stereotypical Hawaiian vacation of walking barefoot on the beach, learning to surf and swimming in the ocean comes to life in this ABBA song. The sound of waves crashing in the background only makes the beach vibes stronger.  

  • Idaho
    13/ Alterna2 // Wikicommons

    Idaho

    “Private Idaho” by the B’52s

    Spotify plays: 2,914,861

    The state of Idaho doesn’t get a favorable treatment in this 1980 dance rock track. The idea of “living in your own private Idaho / underground like a wild potato” doesn’t exactly sound appealing, after all.

  • Illinois
    14/ Joe Lencioni

    Illinois

     “Casimir Pulaski Day” by Sufjan Stevens

    Spotify plays: 16,305,441

    Though this Sufjan Stevens song never mentions the state by name, it comes from the bands Illinois album and gets its name from Casimir Pulaski Day, a local Chicago holiday honoring a Revolutionary War cavalry officer born in Poland. The beautifully melancholy lyrics recall first love, loss and growing up. 

  • Indiana
    15/ Butler Corey

    Indiana

    “Indiana” by Jon McLaughlin

    Spotify plays: 565,576

    McLaughlin explains his love for Indiana by all the things it’s not: near the ocean, near the mountains, near the city. He finds beauty in what most residents—particularly anxious teenagers—might see as reasons to get out of town. 

  • Iowa
    16/ Wikicommons

    Iowa

    "Iowa Stubborn" from The Music Man 

    Spotify plays: 229,960

    Meredith Willson's musical The Music Man was famously inspired by his childhood in Iowa. The catchy show tune pokes fun at Iowans and their "chip-on-the-shoulder attitude." As a native, Wilson's permitted to make these declarations and ultimately concludes the song in favor of Iowa, encouraging the main character to "give Iowa a try!"

  • Kansas
    17/ Evan Guest // Wikicommons

    Kansas

    “Hood Go Crazy” by Tech N9ne

    Spotify plays: 47,254,092

    This isn’t the Kansas that Dorothy pined for in the Wizard of Oz, that’s for sure. Tech N9ne’s party anthem proudly proclaims that “Kansas girls go crazy,” making it popular among young Kansans. 

  • Kentucky
    18/ Ger1axg // Wikicommons

    Kentucky

    “Kentucky Woman” by Neil Diamond

    Spotify plays: 1,108,837

    Diamond’s ode to Kentucky is actually a tribute to the strong woman he fell in love with from that state. Lines like “Kentucky woman / She shines with her own kind of light” makes it a classic love song. 

  • Louisiana
    19/ Bede735

    Louisiana

    “Down Louisiana Way” by George Strait

    Spotify plays: 76,163

    Any native son or daughter coming home to Louisiana after a long absence will resonate with this song. As Strait croons in this ballad, “true love waits down Louisiana way.”

  • Maine
    20/ U.S. Air Force photo by Budd Butcher

    Maine

    “Portland, Maine” by Tim McGraw

    Spotify plays: 1,270,976

    This 2014 track of McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Town album doesn’t exactly glorify Maine: It’s a breakup song about ending a long-distance relationship before it begins to save the heartache. Even so, it’s a lovely (if sad) country tune.

  • Maryland
    21/ Hairsprary

    Maryland

     “Good Morning Baltimore” by the Original Cast of Hairspray

    Spotify plays: 7,874,740

    Tracy Turnblad sings this happy-go-lucky tune on her way to school in Hairspray, the 2002 musical inspired by the cult favorite 1988 John Waters film. Cheeky lyrics like “There’s the flasher who lives next door / There’s the bum on his barroom school / They wish me luck on my way to school” make it a favorite among theater fans and Baltimoreons alike.  

  • Massachusetts
    22/ ceedub13

    Massachusetts

    “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys

    Spotify plays: 81,021,187

    Tracy Turnblad sings this happy-go-lucky tune on her way to school in Hairspray, the 2002 musical inspired by the cult favorite 1988 John Waters film. Cheeky lyrics like “There’s the flasher who lives next door / There’s the bum on his barroom school / They wish me luck on my way to school” make it a favorite among theater fans and Baltimoreons alike.  

  • Michigan
    23/ Mika-photography

    Michigan

    “Lose Yourself” by Eminem

    Spotify plays: 459,117,113

    Though Eminem never mentions Michigan by name in this song, it’s all about his upbringing in a Warren, Michigan trailer park and his attempt to launch his rap career. The track, which was the lead single on the soundtrack to 8 Mile, became the first rap song to ever win the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2003. 

  • Minnesota
    24/ Tony Webster

    Minnesota

    “Say Shh” by Atmosphere

    Spotify plays: 487,024

    This rap song brags about all the Land of 10,000 Lakes’ selling points: wide open spaces, clean air, drinkable tap water, cheap rent and safe parks. And when anyone asks you where you’re from, just say “shh” so Minnesota doesn’t get overcrowded with defectors from other states.

  • Mississippi
    25/ 12019, Pixabay

    Mississippi

    “Mississippi Girl” by Faith Hill

    Spotify plays: 4,246,349

    This country tune about how a big recording artist still loves her country roots in Mississippi epitomizes the state’s down-home spirit. Southerners who’ve left home for the big city will no doubt empathize with lines like “a Mississippi girl don't change her ways / Just 'cause everybody knows her name.” 

  • Missouri
    26/ Unknown // Wikimedia

    Missouri

    “Missouri Waltz” by Glenn Miller

    Spotify plays: n/a

    Glenn Miller released his take on this minstrel song in 1940 on a 78 record with "Beautiful Ohio" on the other side. "Missouri Waltz" was also packaged on the 1947 album "Glenn Miller Masterpieces, Volume II, " which took Billboard's #1 spot for a week in 1947, and five weeks (one week and another four-week streak) in 1948. By 1949 "Missouri Waltz" was Missouri's state song, marking a meteoric leap from minstrel tune to ragtime melody to marching band hit: It's still played before every home football game by the University of Missouri's Marching Mizzou band.

  • Montana
    27/ Andrea Klein // Wikimedia

    Montana

    “Montana Song” by Hank Williams Jr

    Spotify plays: n/a

    Peaceful Montana winters—with deep snow drifts, cozy campfires and brisk winds—come to life in this Hank Williams Jr. song. He wistfully wishes for someone special to cuddle up with him in his sleeping bag, and we have to agree that it sounds pretty good.

  • Nebraska
    28/ aphrodite-in-nyc // Flickr

    Nebraska

    “You and I” by Lady Gaga

    Spotify plays: 41,007,909

    Lady Gaga only mentions Nebraska a few times in this pop-rock song—she’s singing to her “cool Nebraska guy” and belts out a few bars of “Nebraska, I love ya” late in the song—but it’s still a winner. Sprawling cornfields, dirt roads and big blue skies also feature prominently in the music video.  

  • Nevada
    29/ MGM // Wikimedia

    Nevada

    “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley

    Spotify plays: 12,512,051

    Ever wonder the reason why Elvis impersonators became such an integral part of the Vegas scene? It all has to do with this 1963 song that became renowned the world over as a symbol of the city. Though countless other artists have since covered “Viva Las Vegas,” Presley’s rendition is still the most popular.  

  • New Hampshire
    30/ Bertrand // Wikimedia

    New Hampshire

    “New Hampshire” by Sonic Youth

    Spotify plays: 164,033

    This Sonic Youth song references New Hampshire boys only once, but it’s still the most popular song about the state. The unusual guitar riffs and unorthodox instruments give the track a particularly interesting sound.

  • New Jersey
    31/ German Federal Archive // Wikimedia

    New Jersey

    “Jersey Girl” by Bruce Springsteen

    Spotify plays: 6,520,474

    Springsteen singing about leaving New York City for the state across the Hudson River fills any Jersey girl (or boy, for that matter) with state pride. Just listen to the audience applaud at the line “cause down the shore everything's all right / you and your baby on a Saturday night” on the live version to see what we mean. 

  • New Mexico
    32/ Aberdeen Proving Ground // Wikimedia

    New Mexico

    “South of Santa Fe” by Brooks & Dunn

    Spotify plays: 314,055

    The wild west comes to life in this twangy country song about an outlaw rolling into a ghost town in search of a place to lie low and instead finding love. It doesn’t get more country than the line “north of heaven / south of Santa Fe.” 

  • New York
    33/ Mike Barry // Wikimedia

    New York

     “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z (featuring Alicia Keys)

    Spotify plays: 97,018,777

    Nearly every New York City neighborhood gets a shoutout in this beloved Jay-Z song about his hometown. What Alicia Keys sings is true: “These streets will make you feel brand new / these lights will inspire you.”

  • North Carolina
    34/ Columbia Records // Wikimedia

    North Carolina

    “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor

    Spotify plays: 19,489,667

    James Taylor fondly recalls better times in North Carolina in this sweet ode to the state. Since the singer-songwriter spent much of his childhood there, it’s easy to see why he has such happy memories in North Carolina.

  • North Dakota
    35/ William P. Gottlieb // Wikimedia

    North Dakota

    “I Got a Gal I Love in North and South Dakota” by Frank Sinatra

    Spotify plays: 29,065

    Frank Sinatra has a bit of a situation on his hands in this song: He has two lovers waiting for him, in both North and South Dakota. As the song goes on, he remembers there’s actually another girl in Minnesota and Texas—how could he possibly choose?

  • Ohio
    36/ Jake Paul // Wikimedia

    Ohio

    “Ohio Fried Chicken” by Jake Paul

    Spotify plays: 8,571,790

    The YouTube and Vine star made this satirical take on a contemporary country song in one day, if the lyrics are to be believed. It’s pretty hard not to crack a smile at lines like “I got my truck / my overalls / just me and my boys making fried chicken y’all.”

  • Oklahoma
    37/ Craig ONeal // Wikimedia

    Oklahoma

    “Oklahoma Sky” by Miranda Lambert

    Spotify plays: 2,250,869

    Miranda Lambert tells a classic story of long-lost love in this folk song. After searching and searching for her love, she begs him to meet her under the lightning-torn Oklahoma sky. 

  • Oregon
    38/ Sun Records // Wikimedia

    Oregon

    “Lumberjack” by Johnny Cash

    Spotify plays: 55,423

    Johnny Cash runs away from his job pulling hay in Iowa to cut lumber in the Pacific Northwest in this song. His romanticized version of lumberjacking includes felling trees with his boys in the woods, living it up in Eugene on Saturday night, then repeating the cycle again until the next weekend. 

  • Pennsylvania
    39/ slgckgc // Flickr

    Pennsylvania

    “Allentown” by Billy Joel

    Spotify plays: 5,660,336

    This Billy Joel song chronicles the loss of factory jobs and the death of the American dream for an entire generation of American workers. Restlessness, anger and unfulfilled promises shine through the lyrics.

  • Rhode Island
    40/ Jazz máx // Wikimedia

    Rhode Island

    “Rhode Island Is Famous for You” by Blossom Dearie

    Spotify plays: 575,867

    Every other state has a famed cash crop: Kentucky has whiskey, Arizona has copper, Georgia has peaches, and so on. But Rhode Island? It’s famous for you, as Blossom Dearie croons in this sweet song.

  • South Carolina
    41/ Gage Skidmore // Wikimedia

    South Carolina

    “South Carolina Low Country” by Josh Turner

    Spotify plays: 797,082

    Josh Turner proclaims that his deep baritone voice only sings the songs of South Carolina, his one true home, in this country song. Visions of “palmetto trees swaying in that Atlantic breeze” and idyllic small town life come to mind.

  • South Dakota
    42/ Atco Records // Wikimedia

    South Dakota

    “South Dakota Morning” by the Bee Gees

    Spotify plays: 31,765

    As one of the few states left with truly wide open spaces, it’s not hard to imagine the eagle flying over South Dakota, like the Bee Gees sing about on this track. It’s a lovely ode to solitude, nature and the Mount Rushmore State.

  • Tennessee
    43/ Julio Enriquez // Flickr

    Tennessee

    “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton

    Spotify plays: 100,005,220

    Chris Stapleton’s bluesy tune about getting drunk on love as “smooth as Tennessee whiskey … as sweet as strawberry wine” is just so easy to sing along to. Listen to it while sipping some Jack Daniels for the ultimate effect.

  • Texas
    44/ Own work // Wikimedia

    Texas

    “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” by George Strait

    Spotify plays: 6,393,898


    With ex-girlfriends like Rosanna down in Texarkana, Eileen in Abilene, Allison in Galveston and Dimple in Temple, George Strait really can’t afford to go back to Texas, as much as he’d like to. Since he’s forced to live in exile (see what we did there?) in Tennessee, this song is technically about two Southern states.

  • Utah
    45/ U.S.Embassy Vienna // Flickr

    Utah

    “The Beehive State” by Randy Newman

    Spotify plays: 35,608

    This Randy Newman song is actually lines of dialogue between state delegates on the floor of Congress. The delegate from Kansas asks for funding for a firehouse in Topeka, while the delegate from Utah requests irrigation for the state’s deserts. The song ends with the line “we got to tell this country about Utah / cause nobody seems to know.”

  • Vermont
    46/ Mariamichelle, Pixabay

    Vermont

    “Moonlight in Vermont” by Frank Sinatra

    Spotify plays: 2,001,175

    Frank Sinatra makes this list yet again with his swoon-worthy ballad about falling leaves, a tall sycamore and moonlight falling on a stream in Vermont. The images of snowy ski trails warbling meadowlarks are almost enough to make you want to move there—or at least plan a trip.

  • Virginia
    47/ Jim Pietryga // Wikimedia

    Virginia

    “Sweet Virginia” by the Rolling Stones

    Spotify plays: 7,330,741

    The Rolling Stones personify Virginia as a sweet “honey child” in this little ditty about the state. Though California might have the wine, as Mick Jagger sings, it’s all about sweet, sweet Virginia.

  • Washington
    48/ New Millennium Music // Wikimedia

    Washington

    “Posse on Broadway” by Sir Mix-a-Lot

    Spotify plays: 3,407,464

    Before he became infamous for “Baby Got Back,” Sir Mix-a-Lot rapped about the party scene in his hometown of Seattle in “Posse on Broadway.” He gives shout outs to Mt. Rainier and local Seattle hotspots on the track.

  • West Virginia
    49/ Ckuhl // Wikimedia

    West Virginia

    “Green Rolling Hills” by Emmylou Harris

    Spotify plays: 14,049

    Even though her father warns her to never be a miner, Emmylou Harris still romanticizes the green, rolling hills of West Virginia. Although she plans to move away to some big city, Harris knows she’ll always come back to her country home. 

  • Wisconsin
    50/ danieljordahl // Wikimedia

    Wisconsin

    “Wisconsin” by Bon Iver

    Spotify plays: n/a

    The tone of Bon Iver’s “Wisconsin” evokes the feeling of an icy, midwest winter—probably not unlike how it feels to be standing out in the snow in Wisconsin, just like the lyrics describe. The band is also originally from Fall Creek, Wisconsin, so there’s a double connection to the state.

  • Wyoming
    51/ RCA Records // Wikimedia

    Wyoming

    “Song of Wyoming” by John Denver

    Spotify plays: 28,719

    The “Song of Wyoming” that Denver refers to in this ballad is the sound of the prairie: bird calls, the wind fluttering through cottonwood trees and a coyote howling, all mingling together to form a natural tune. It’s a lonesome song, fit for a solo cowboy riding through the country at night.  

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