This article was originally published in 2015.
Over the course of country music history, each state has been immortalized in songs, some better than others.
No place inspires us quite like our home states can. Sometimes we love them, sometimes we hate them; sometimes we just can’t wait to get out of them. Some states had too many songs to choose from (Texas, Carolina, Georgia) others had too few, but here are the best country songs for each state.
“Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Could it really be anything else? While more southern rock than country, this might be the most well-known song on this list.
- “Angel From Montgomery” – John Prine
- “Alabama Pines” – Jason Isbell
- “Florence, Alabama” – Joe Fletcher
“North to Alaska” – Johnny Horton
A quintessential gold rush song released with the movie of the same name. Also a No. 1 single for Horton.
“Take it Easy” – The Eagles
This song is so famous that there is a statue “standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.”
- “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” – Glen Campbell
- “Big Iron” – Marty Robbins
- “Willin’” – Linda Rondstadt
- “Ocean Front Property” – George Strait
“Arkansas Traveler” – Pete Seeger
The state song for almost 20 years, “Arkansas Traveler” has several versions with different lyrics. Pete Seeger breathes a humorous life into it.
- “Annabelle (Arkansas is Callin’ You)” – Hot Apple Pie
“Sunset Boulevard” – Charlie Robison
Because “Sunset Boulevard” is a heartbreaking piece about dreams that are never realized. And because “California Stars” is already on everyone’s list.
“Rocky Mountain High” – John Denver
John Denver’s 1975 hit “Rocky Mountain High” is easily the most iconic song about the state.
“Rockin’ the Zydeco World” – River City Slim & the Zydeco Hogs
The most unexpected piece on the list, “Rockin’” is a zydeco track from the north. It features callouts to towns and cities in Connecticut.
“Hotel Song” – Josh Ritter
While not technically about Delaware, the singer does catch sight of his new crush’s license plate as she drives away and sighs “Oh, it must be gorgeous there.”
“Margaritaville” – Jimmy Buffett
Florida: [insert Jimmy Buffett song here] But really, is there any song that is more symbolic of the mythology that Buffett has created about the Key West lifestyle?
- “Grapefruit, Juicy-Fruit” – Jimmy Buffett
“Georgia on my Mind” –Willie Nelson
Not only is Willie Nelson’s song the best song about Georgia, it’s also one of the best songs in history. Ray Charles’ version may even outdo Willie’s.
- “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” – Reba McEntire
- “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – Charlie Daniels Band
“Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian” – John Prine
Prine’s tongue-in-cheek jaunt features licks straight from the island’s beaches and a significant smattering of the Hawaiian language. Just be careful who you sing it to.
- “Blue Hawaii” – Elvis Presley
“Idaho” – Reckless Kelly
The Braun brothers of Texas country (Reckless Kelly, Mickey & the Motorcars) were born and raised in Idaho, and aren’t shy to get nostalgic about its beauty.
- “Idaho” – John Ritter
“Get Your Kicks on Route 66” – Asleep at the Wheel
Route 66 starts in Chicago. ‘Nuff said.
- “Don’t Ride That Horse” – Old Crow Medicine Show
“Small Town” – John Mellencamp
Mellencamp’s ode to small-town America could apply anywhere, but he wrote it about his hometown in Indiana.
“Iowa” – Dar Williams
Dar Williams taunts us with the voluptuous hills of Iowa as she chases what it seems cannot be caught.
- “It Sure Can Get Cold in Des Moines” – Tom T. Hall
“Kansas City Star” – Roger Miller
Roger Miller will not abandon Kansas City, which has made him a star, despite Omaha’s better offer. This song could be read as satirical.
- “Wichita Lineman” – Glen Campbell
“Blue Moon of Kentucky” – Bill Monroe
A country standard, this classic from Bill Monroe is the official State Bluegrass Song of Kentucky, the home of bluegrass music.
- “Blue Kentucky Girl” – Emmylou Harris
- “Paradise” – John Prine
- “Kentucky Rain” – Elvis Presley
“Amos Moses” – Jerry Reed
Louisiana simply has too much good music to choose just one song. On the other hand, “Amos Moses” is simply too much fun not to choose to represent the bayou mentality.
- “Louisiana Saturday Night” – Mel McDaniels
- “Jambalaya” – Hank Williams
- “Adalida” – George Strait
- “City of New Orleans” – Willie Nelson
“We Can’t Make it Here” – James McMurtry
When James McMurtry penned this song, Maine had just lost 30,000 jobs to outsourcing. Maine was also McMurtry’s biggest market once upon a time.
And, most importantly, because Tim McGraw’s “Portland, Maine” should not be any state’s best song.
“Streets of Baltimore” – Tompall and the Glasser Brothers
Several country greats, including Charlie Pride and Gram Parsons, have recorded this country classic about a blue-collar guy who loses his darling to the allure of Baltimore.
- “Pretty Girl from Annapolis” – The Avett Brothers
“Please Come to Boston” – Dave Loggins
Dave Loggins is best remembered for this hit song, in which he tries to convince his lover to move to Boston, Denver and Los Angeles, respectively. Loggins said the song was mostly true, all except for the lover. She was imaginary.
- “Boston” – Kenny Chesney
- “Alice’s Restaurant” – Arlo Guthrie
- “Whoever’s in New England” – Reba McEntire
“Saginaw Michigan” – Lefty Frizzell
Lefty Frizzell’s tune about two Michigan newlyweds and their cruel father is one of country music’s best story songs.
- “Pretty Girl From Michigan” – The Avett Brothers
“Minneapolis” – Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams pretty much has the perfect voice to suggest the winters of Minneapolis. Oh, and her broken heart.
Covering not just one, but two states, Twitty and Lynn’s duet is a country classic.
- “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” – Ray Stevens
- “Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Town” – Charlie Pride
- “Down in Mississippi” – Sugarland
- “Mississippi Delta Blues” – Jimmie Rodgers
“All the Spirits of St. Louis” – Johnny Paycheck
The title is a play on the name of the first plane to fly nonstop from New York to Paris, but the song is about Paycheck’s epic bender in Missouri’s biggest city.
- “Missouri” – Merle Travis
- “Frankie and Johnny” Jimmie Rodgers
“Montana Cowgirl” – Emmylou Harris
A good old romp about a girl who has traveled away and is called back by her homeland.
- “Big City” – Merle Haggard
- “Montana Rodeo – Chris LaDoux
“Omaha” – Waylon Jennings
Nobody can make regret sound so much like heartbreak as Waylon Jennings. In the song, nowhere else Jennings travels is quite so good as Omaha.
“Ooh, Las Vegas” – Gram Parson
Gram Parsons sings about the traps and temptations of Sin City in this standout track from his landmark solo album, Grievous Angel.
“Down the River” – The Dusty Gray Band
The Dusty Gray Band is 100% downhome country rock and roll from New Hampshire. Try not to tap your foot along to “Down the River.”
“Walk Through the Bottomland” – Lyle Lovett
Lyle Lovett, backed by Emmylou Harris, sings of a love affair between a New Jersey girl and a cowboy in this cut from Lovett’s classic album Pontiac.
“South of Santa Fe” – Brooks & Dunn
It doesn’t get much more country than “South of Santa Fe.” The desolation of the song matches the landscape of New Mexico perfectly.
- “New Mexico” – Johnny Cash
“New York, New York” – Ryan Adams
There are about a million songs about New York, but Ryan Adam’s is pure celebration. The fact that the video was released, coincidentally, on 9/11 just adds to its ethos.
- “Rhinestone Cowboy” – Glenn Campbell
“Wagon Wheel” – Old Crow Medicine Show
Wagon Wheel is one of the most popular American songs of the 21st century, and it’s reference to hitchhiking through Raleigh has made it a huge hit among North Carolina State students.
“North Dakota” – Chris Knight
In typical Knight fashion, “North Dakota” chronicles living in the state, then introduces a healthy dose of heartbreak.
- “North Dakota” – Lyle Lovett
- “Parachute” – Harbor Hills
“Look at Miss Ohio” – Gillian Welch
With one of the simplest, catchiest, and yet somehow still haunting, hooks of all time (Oh, me, oh, my, oh, would you look at Miss Ohio), this song is yet another about a dissatisfied youth.
“Okie from Muskogee” – Merle Haggard
“Okie” walks the line between being an honest celebration of the simplicity of Oklahoma living and a biting satire of it. All while also being an anti-war protest song.
- “Boys from Oklahoma” – Cross Canadian Ragweed
- “Choctaw Bingo” – James McMurtry
- “Tecumseh Valley” – Townes Van Zandt
“Portland, Oregon” – Loretta Lynn & Jack White
The song that put the sloe gin fizz on the map, and firmly established it as being Portland’s own.
“The Weight” – The Band
Nazareth, in this case, is not Israel but Pennsylvania. It’s located about four miles east of Bethlehem.
“Sweet Rhode Island Red” – Ike & Tina Turner
The singer in this song never makes it to Rhode Island, but she is named after its most famous bird.
“Carolina” – Corey Smith
Corey Smith sees reminders of his old flame wherever he looks in South Carolina. He’s reminded of her in the Hartwell Bridge and the cobblestones of Charleston.
- “South Carolina Low Country” – Josh Turner
“Rapid City, South Dakota” – Dwight Yoakam
This song, written by Texas country lyricist Kinky Friedman, paints a picture of the sleepy life in Rapid City during the winter.
- “Rocky Racoon” – The Beatles
- “Deadwood, South Dakota” – Nanci Griffith
“Tennessee Waltz” – Patsy Cline
Written in 1946 and originally performed by Patti Page, the Tennessee Waltz is the most iconic country song about the Volunteer State. Patsy Cline’s version is the best.
- “Walking in Memphis” – Mark Cohn
- “Tennessee Jed” – Levon Helm
- “Tennessee Stud”, “Nashville Sucks” – Cory Morrow
“Songs about Texas” – Pat Green
It would be foolish to try and choose one song to represent Texas. So instead here is a song that pays tribute to all the rest of the songs that pay tribute to Texas.
Honorable mentions: All the rest.
“Utah Trail” – Tex Ritter
Song, film, ideology; “Utah Trail” is what Western used to mean.
- “Salt Lake City” – Hank Williams, Jr.
“Moonlight in Vermont” – Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson does a beautiful rendition of this old standard about the Green Mountain State.
“Shenandoah Valley Breakdown” – Traditional
“Shenandoah Valley Breakdown” is what music from Appalachia is all about.
- “Sunday in the South” – Shenandoah
- “Carry Me Back to Virginia” – Old Crow Medicine Show
“Talkin’ Seattle Blues” – Todd Snider
“Talkin’ Seattle” is pretty much a rundown of everything Washington, from Ichiro (when he was Washington) to the Space Needle. Oh, and Kurt Cobain.
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver
Was there ever a song that made you want to go home more than this one? A warm-hearted sing-along that belongs completely to West Virginia.
“Milwaukee, Here I Come” – Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton
You could work in a brewery in Milwaukee, or you could chase Grand Old Opry stars in Nashville. Either way, you’re going to be drinking.
“The Beaches of Cheyenne” – Garth Brooks
The protagonist in this song is able to haunt Cheyenne, where her man died in a rodeo, while simultaneously haunting California, where she committed suicide.
- “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” – George Strait