America’s Most Recognizable State Songs, Ranked

Quick, what’s your state song? Exactly.

There’s a reason nobody can name their state’s official song, and that reason is they all pretty much forgettable. And since the advent of electric guitars, there’ve been a lot of state-friendly tracks laid down that are more cutting edge than, say, “Hail Minnesota!” or “The State of Maine Song”.

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But what are they, you ask (other than the obvious “Sweet Home Alabama” and “New York, New York”)?

Well, we decided to find out, identifying the best song about the state (or, at least about a city, landmark, or something in every single state). In the end, there were a ton, but we narrowed it down to these six—perfect for putting a cool twist on your next road-trip rendition of “The License Plate Game”

Alabama

“Sweet Home Alabama”, Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Sweet Home Alabama” is unequivocally the theme song for the South. Despite referencing Alabama, it is held dear by nearly everyone below the Mason-Dixon line. It’s a jovial tune that begs listeners to grab their cowboy boots, throw back a cold one, and get out on the dance floor.

A song by Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd that first appeared in 1974 on their second album, Second Helping, is often associated with Forrest Gump.

Michael David Winery, Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Michael David Winery, Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

California

“California Dreamin”, Beach Boys

The Beach Boys virtually defined the image of surfers, hot rods, sun, beaches, girls, and fun, fun, fun that became the California myth. The titles of their songs said it as well as anything: “California Girls,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Surfer Girl,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and “Dance, Dance, Dance”.

With these hits and others, the group created a new sound in rock and roll. It was called the “surf sound,” but in fact it was a combination of older rock verities set in entirely new lyrical and musical contexts.

Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kentucky

“Blue Moon of Kentucky”, Patsy Cline
Elvis probably made this song about asking the moon to keep shining over a lost love famous, but Patsy Cline—as she did with most songs—sang it best.

South Carolina

“South Carolina Low Country”, Josh Turner
It may be the coolness of the shadows beneath the huge oaks and Spanish moss, that I love most about the “South Carolina Low Country, but don’t just take my word for it. Josh describes his music as “South Carolina Low Country.” “That phrase could actually define my music,” he says.

Edisto Island, South Carolina Lowcountry © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Edisto Island, South Carolina Lowcountry © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Because I’m from South Carolina. I have a South Carolina accent. I have a South Carolina upbringing. I have a low voice, and I’m a country artist. So South Carolina Low Country is like the perfect description of the kind of music that I do. It has that backwoods kind of swampy feel, but at the same time it’s very elegant.”

Louisiana

“Way Down Yonder in New Orleans”

The song tells of New Orleans, the destination which the singer desires.

“Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” is a popular song with music by John Turner, Jr. and lyrics by Henry Creamer. First published in 1922, it was advertised by Creamer and Layton as “A Southern Song, without A Mammy, A Mule, Or A Moon”, a dig at some of the Tin Pan Alley clichés of the era.

Avery Island, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Avery Island, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Delaware

“Delaware”, Perry Como
In addition to answering the burning question of “What did Delaware?” (A BRAND NEW JERSEY!!), Perry also asks us where has Ore Gone?, what did Missis sip?, How did Wiscon sin?, and why did Cali Phone ya? Oh yes, it’s a clever one.

Worth Pondering…

No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell and a song to sing.

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