America’s Most Recognizable State Songs, Revealed

What’s your state song? Not sure?

There’s a reason nobody can name their state’s official song, and that reason is they all pretty much forgettable.

Jekyll Island, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jekyll Island, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But what are they, you ask?

Every state has a song or two about them, but very few of those songs end up as major hits. Songs like “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Georgia On My Mind,” “California Girls” and “Moonlight in Vermont” prove there are some very recognizable songs out there about some of the nation’s most iconic states. However, few states have as many songs about them as the state of Texas.

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 seven.

Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Georgia

“Georgia On My Mind”, Hoagy Carmichael, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine, Ella Fitzgerald, Brenda Lee, Ronnie Milsap, Oscar Peterson, The Anita Kerr Singers, Jo Stafford, Michael Bolton, and many more great artists. “Georgia on My Mind” is a brilliant work that captures the yearnings of the homesick soul longing for the South.

Arizona

“Ocean Front Property (in Arizona)”, George Strait

What if California broke off and floated away?

King Ranch near Kingsville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

King Ranch near Kingsville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas

“God Bless Texas”, Little Texas

When looking at songs about the state of Texas, it is only fair to choose one by a band that actually named themselves after the state. Little Texas started playing together in 1988, and in 1993 they released a love letter to the state in the anthem “God Blessed Texas.” The song plays everywhere from Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers games to automobile commercials.

Nevada

“Folsom Prison Blues”, Johnny Cash
Folsom is in California, you say? REALLY?? Tell that to Johnny Cash, who shot a man in Reno—just to watch him die—yet somehow ended up in a prison outside Sacramento. You wanna question The Man in Black’s logic for state-line jurisdiction? ‘Cuz we don’t.

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Virginia

“Oh, Shenandoah”, American folk song

The Shenandoah Valley is widely renowned for its beauty and its idyllic landscape of farms, fields, and historic towns. Framed to the east and west by the majestic Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the region is defined by the river made famous in the folk song “Oh, Shenandoah.”

As unclear as is the song’s origin, so is the meaning of its words. Some believe that the song refers to the river of the same name. Others suggest that it is of Native American origin, for it tells the tale of Sally, the daughter of the Indian Chief Shenandoah, who is courted for seven years by a white Missouri river trader. Regardless, “Oh, Shenandoah” remains an American classic.

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Louisiana

“Jambalaya (On The Bayou)”, Hank Williams, Sr.

“Jambalaya”, while maintaining a Cajun theme, is about life, parties, and Cajun food. The song tells of leaving to polea pirogue down the shallow water of the bayou, to attend a party with his girlfriend Yvonne and her family. At the feast they have Cajun cuisine, notably Jambalaya, crawfish pie, and filé gumbo, and drink liquor from fruit jars. Yvonne is his “ma cher amio”, which is Cajun French for “my good friend” or more likely to mean “my girlfriend.” Technically in Cajun culture “ma cher amio” means my dear, which refers to Yvonne in this song.

Colorado

“Rocky Mountain High”, John Denver
We’d like to think this song was the rallying cry for Colorado’s legalization movement, but even if it wasn’t, that John Denver was pretty prophetic.

Worth Pondering…

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

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