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Famous songs about every state

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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!"

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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. 

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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. 

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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.”

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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.

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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.  

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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.  

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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. 

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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.

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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.” 

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.  

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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.

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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. 

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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.” 

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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.”

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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.

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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?

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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.”

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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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