Songs about Western and Midwestern States?
June 28, 2006 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Mixtape filter: I need songs that reference any of the states of California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah.

The boyfriend and I are taking a roadtrip to all of these places. I want to include some songs on this mix about the states we will be visiting. Even a one line mention is okay, or even songs that allude to geographical areas or special traits about the state. Bonus points if it's folk or metal.

Things I'm thinking of already:
-"North Dakota" by Lyle Lovett
-"Number 6 Driver" by Eddie From Ohio (lyrics: "and there's a cold wind blowin' in Wyoming...")
-"Nebraska" by Bruce Springsteen

Thank You Mefite Music Addicts!
posted by sarahnade to Media & Arts (70 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, one of my favorite Weird Al Yankovic songs.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:32 PM on June 28, 2006

"Going to California" - Led Zeppelin
"Under the Bridge" - RHCP (about Los Angeles)

Sorry, none of these are folksy or metal.
posted by muddgirl at 7:32 PM on June 28, 2006

Also, it's about a road trip.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:32 PM on June 28, 2006

I like "I can't drive 55" by Sammy Hagar.

We can cover all the states with that one. ;-)

(FTR, I'm the boyfriend she's referring to.)
posted by drstein at 7:33 PM on June 28, 2006

Mason Jennings has two songs about California and one about Minnesota (1997) on his first ep, which is the one I'd recommend.
posted by princelyfox at 7:34 PM on June 28, 2006

California by Rufus Wainwright
posted by slightlybewildered at 7:38 PM on June 28, 2006

Drivin' on 9 by The Breeders:
Drivin' on 9
I sure look pretty
Carson City
Walking down the isle

Viva Las Vegas by Elvis

Of course the obligatory California Dreamin' by the Mamas and the Papas
Big Sur by the Thrills

General good road trip songs:
Another white dash by Butterfly Boucher
Beautiful by Moby

I love road trips, have fun!
posted by lannanh at 7:42 PM on June 28, 2006

Trucker's Atlas by Modest Mouse
posted by saladin at 7:44 PM on June 28, 2006

Nevada: 'Viva Las Vegas,' by Elvis, the Dead Kennedys or somebody else
posted by box at 7:44 PM on June 28, 2006

California Girls -- Beach Boys

Minnesota -- Push Stars (After the Party CD)

California Dreamin' -- Mamas & the Papas
posted by bim at 7:45 PM on June 28, 2006

Twin Falls by Built to Spill is about Twin Falls, Idaho
posted by youcancallmeal at 7:45 PM on June 28, 2006

"Dakota" by Stereophonics. Not even totally sure if it's about the state, but it's damn good.
posted by awegz at 7:45 PM on June 28, 2006

Bob Dylan's 'Let Me Die in my Footsteps' contains the line 'Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho.' And there are a million songs about California--I seem to recall an earlier AskMe on the topic.
posted by box at 7:47 PM on June 28, 2006

California Uber Alles - Dead Kennedys
or the cover by Disposable Heroes of Hiphopracy
posted by zerokey at 7:50 PM on June 28, 2006

Oops--wasn't California, but Los Angeles.
posted by box at 7:52 PM on June 28, 2006

Camper Van Beethoven: The History Of Utah, (Don't You Go To) Goleta (which mentions a bunch of university towns in CA), and probably several others.
posted by xil at 7:54 PM on June 28, 2006

Idaho by the Bodeans
Leaving Las Vegas by Sheryl Crow
posted by alexmikayla at 7:56 PM on June 28, 2006

Best answer: Robert at Trees Lounge has a music blog. He is working through every state (alphabetically) with songs about that state. Here are the ones for California, Idaho, Iowa and Minnesota (which is far as he has got alphabetically).
posted by TheRaven at 7:57 PM on June 28, 2006

"Moving to Montana Soon,
Gonna be a Dental Floss Tycoon..." - Frank Zappa
posted by jozxyqk at 7:58 PM on June 28, 2006

Hazard - Richard Marx
Omaha - Counting Crows
Dressed up Like Nebraska - Josh Rouse
Omaha Stylee - 311
I've Been Everywhere - Johnny Cash
Turn the Page - Bob Seger
posted by Ostara at 7:59 PM on June 28, 2006

reno dakota - the magnetic fields
going back to cali - ll cool j
california - phantom planet (from the OC)
rocky racoon - the beatles
posted by Xalf at 8:02 PM on June 28, 2006

Idaho - Josh Ritter
posted by a22lamia at 8:07 PM on June 28, 2006

iowa - dar williams
posted by makonan at 8:07 PM on June 28, 2006

My Own Private Idaho - B52s
posted by whatzit at 8:10 PM on June 28, 2006

Sands of Nevada - Mark Knopfler

Outshined - Soundgarden (mentions both California AND Minnesota... on consecutive lines no less...)
posted by logicpunk at 8:12 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

And California's in a bunch of The Decemberists songs. I'm sure someone will nag for this being incomplete, but you can start with California One Youth and Beauty Brigade and Los Angeles, I'm Yours (if you're feeling liberal, I don't think it actually says California in the lyrics).
posted by whatzit at 8:13 PM on June 28, 2006

Springsteen's "Promised Land," has a line about a 'rattlesnake speedway in the Utah Desert.' The Del-Lords have an excellent number called 'Cheyenne,' that'll cover Wyoming. John Prine's "Sabu Visits The Twin Cities Alone" makes a lot of minnesota references. Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" famously talks about shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die.

That's four states down.
posted by jonmc at 8:14 PM on June 28, 2006

Hyperion and Sunset by Grant Lee Buffalo is beautiful and has some nice references to Oregon and the west.
posted by docpops at 8:18 PM on June 28, 2006

Oh - Mark Kozelek's version of Trucker's Atlas is lovely and has great references to travel, and Montana in particular.
posted by docpops at 8:20 PM on June 28, 2006

Utah Saints - Utah Saints
posted by pompomtom at 8:22 PM on June 28, 2006

Idaho: Interstate by the Refreshments
Idaho by John Linnell (of They Might Be Giants)

California: I Remember California by R.E.M.
California Stars by Billy Bragg and Wilco
California by David Poe, also by Rufus Wainwright,
also by Tom Petty, also by Low
Interstate 8 by Modest Mouse (this is about SoCal but is also about road tripping and is appropos.)

Nevada: Nevada by John Linnell (of They Might Be Giants)
Don't Make Me Come To Vegas by Tori Amos
All The Way To Reno by R.E.M.

Iowa: Iowa by John Linnell (of They Might Be Giants)

Montana: Montana by Frank Zappa
Montana by John Linnell (of They Might Be Giants)

Nebraska: Omaha by the Counting Crows
Omaha by Damien Jurado

Utah: Utah by John Linnell (oh fuck it, just by the whole "State Songs" album.)

Minnesota: Outshined by Soundgarden

Everywhere: I've Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash
Trucker's Atlas by Modest Mouse -- also Sun Kil Moon's cover of this song is gorgeous.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:24 PM on June 28, 2006

Here're a few on California, but none of them particuarly folksy, and nowhere near metal:

It Never Rains (In Southern California) - Tony Toni Tone
All I Wanna Do - Sheryl Crow
California Love - Tupac
(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 - originally recorded by Nat King Cole, but there are any number of artists who've done a cover that may work for you
posted by phoenixc at 8:25 PM on June 28, 2006

"California" by Joni Mitchell is a great song, and hits the folk requirement.

"Nevada, California" by The Jayhawks, but that's probably cheating. (They also do "Sioux City" which is about Iowa, but probably doesn't reference the state name directly.)
posted by j-dawg at 8:30 PM on June 28, 2006

Estimated Prophet -- Grateful Dead
Friend of the Devil -- GD (Mentions both Reno (Nevada) and Utah)
Hotel California -- Eagles (Most over played song ever)
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:42 PM on June 28, 2006

Idaho: Josh Ritter
posted by trixie_bee at 8:43 PM on June 28, 2006

Most of my suggestions have been taken (Folsom Prison Blues covers both Nevada and California; If you don't mind the country, Trisha Yearwood sings a gorgeous song called "On a Bus to Saint Cloud" [Minnesota]. Eddie From Ohio also has a song called Minnesota 1945.

If you don't mind the cheese, Marie Osmond and Dan Seals had a song called "Meet Me in Montana" in the 70s sometime.
posted by julen at 8:48 PM on June 28, 2006

I knew I'd think of a couple more:

"Big River" (several versions, including a great one by The Highwaymen) references St. Paul, MN and Davenport, IA (among other places).

"Reno, Nevada" by Fairport Convention.

"Blue Montana Skies" by Riders in the Sky.

Again, no explicit state name in the lyrics, but Lucinda Williams does "Minneapolis."

I feel like Waylon Jennings has a song that references Nebraska, but I can't think of it.
posted by j-dawg at 8:55 PM on June 28, 2006

California Love: Tupac
Hotel California: The Eagles
Like a California King: Everclear
California: Phantom Planet
posted by Amanda B at 8:56 PM on June 28, 2006

"Rider" a traditional song. I like the Dead's version...but, with lyrics like "I'd shine my light through the cold Colorado rain", you can't go wrong.
posted by fieldtrip at 9:48 PM on June 28, 2006

John Linnell's State Songs has Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Iowa, and Utah, along with the hyper-catchy Songs Of The 50 States and other fun bonus tracks. Like almost all TMBG stuff, it's not quite folk and certainly not metal, but it does make for great driving music.
posted by picopebbles at 9:54 PM on June 28, 2006

Vegas Baby by the Weepies

Maybe something by Utah Phillips? I enjoy "The Past Didn't Go Anywhere," his spoken-word collaboration with Ani DiFranco.
posted by bisesi at 10:15 PM on June 28, 2006

Cold in California by Allison Moorer
California Rose by Laura Cantrell
California Dreamin' by the Mamas and Papas
posted by whatideserve at 10:16 PM on June 28, 2006

For Minnesota:

--Dandy Warhols, "Minnesoter"
--Prince, "Uptown" (refers to Mpls)
--Dan Fogelberg, "Leader of the Band" ("one went to Chicago, and the other to St. Paul...")
--"Little Green Apples" ("God didn't make little green apples, and it don't snow in Minneapolis in the winter time...")
--"Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" ("I can still recall, the wheat fields of St. Paul")
--Bob Dylan, "Highway 61 Revisited"
posted by GaelFC at 10:24 PM on June 28, 2006

re: "I've Been Everywhere"--Hank Snow did it best.

California Sun - The Rivieras/The Crickets/Bobby Fuller Four/Annette Funicello/Los Straightjackets/The Dictators/The Ramones
Danny Says - The Ramones (Idaho, L.A.)
California Soul - Brenda & The Tabulations
Salt Lake City - The Beach Boys
Salt Lake City - Bobby Bare
The Happening - The Pixies (Great Salt Lake, Vegas)
Palace of the Brine - The Pixies (Utah)
Sign in the Window - Bob Dylan (Utah, California, et al.)
Talkin' Have Negeilah Blues - Bob Dylan ("Here's a foreign song I learned in Utah")
Elusive Dreams - Lee Hazelwood & Nancy Sinatra (Utah, Nebraska, more)
Psycho Daisies - The Yardbirds (Iowa, California, et at.)
Highway Heading South - Dolly Parton (North Dakota, Montana)
Devo - Red-eye Express (Idaho)
Camper Van Beethovan - Eye of Fatima Pt. 1 (Wyoming)
Cheyanne - Roy Orbison (Nebraska, Wyoming)
posted by hydrophonic at 10:25 PM on June 28, 2006

Witchita Skyline - Shawn Colvin
Blue Sky Lonely - Toni Price
posted by nenequesadilla at 11:18 PM on June 28, 2006

"LA" -- Elliott Smith
"Vegas" -- The Paybacks
"California Desert Party" -- Jonathan Richman
"Reno" -- Jonathan Richman
"You're Crazy for Taking the Bus" -- Jonathan Richman (mentions Salt Lake City, Reno, & Anaheim)
"Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis" -- Tom Waits
"Hang on St. Christopher" -- Tom Waits (mentions Reno)
"San Diego Serenade" -- Tom Waits
posted by JT at 11:25 PM on June 28, 2006

ran into the Devil/And he loaned me twenty bills/I spent the night in Utah/In a cave up in the hills/I start out running but I take my time/A friend of the devil is a friend of mine/And if I get home before daylight/I just might get some sleep tonight

Friend of the Devil, Grateful Dead and a billion other people.
posted by weston at 11:43 PM on June 28, 2006

Zen Mafia - California is sort of a cool rockin' re-imagining of Sweet Home Alabama. You really have to give it a listen.
posted by geekyguy at 11:54 PM on June 28, 2006

If you can wait around 50 years for a comprehensive answer, Sufjan Stevens will be the one and only artist to provide a complete answer to this question with his discography.
posted by superfurry at 1:58 AM on June 29, 2006

Where are you going in California?

Do You Know the Way to San José? - Dionne Warwick
Drinking in L.A. - Bran Van 3000
San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) - Scott McKenzie
posted by srah at 3:42 AM on June 29, 2006

John Denver Wild Montana Skies

Iris Dement Easy's Gettin Harder Everyday (about Coeur d'Alene, Idaho)
posted by cda at 4:11 AM on June 29, 2006

Nebraska, by Nerissa & Katryna Nields
posted by cajo at 4:24 AM on June 29, 2006

Nebraska by moe. off of their Tin Cans and Car Tires CD. But since they are a recording-friendly band, check P2Ps (etree) too if you want to download it. Cool song.
posted by terrapin at 5:41 AM on June 29, 2006

Oh and if it wasn't mentioned already, Promised Land by Chuck Berry is a goodie too. I prefer the Grateful Dead's version(s).

I left my home in Norfolk Virginia,
California on my mind.
Straddled that Greyhound, rode him past Raleigh,
On across Caroline.

Stopped in Charlotte and bypassed Rock Hill,
And we never was a minute late.
We was ninety miles out of Atlanta by sundown,
Rollin' 'cross the Georgia state.

We had motor trouble it turned into a struggle,
Half way 'cross Alabam,
And that 'hound broke down and left us all stranded
In downtown Birmingham.

Straight off, I bought me a through train ticket,
Ridin’ cross Mississippi clean
And I was on that midnight flyer out of Birmingham
Smoking into New Orleans.

Somebody help me get out of Louisiana
Just help me get to Houston town.
There’s people there who care a little 'bout me
And they won't let the poor boy down.

Sure as you're born, they bought me a silk suit,
Put luggage in my hands,
And I woke up high over Albuquerque
On a jet to the promised land.

Workin' on a T-bone steak a la carte
Flying over to the Golden State;
The pilot told me in thirteen minutes
We'd be headin' in the terminal gate.

Swing low sweet chariot, come down easy
Taxi to the terminal zone;
Cut your engines, cool your wings,
And let me make it to the telephone.

Los Angeles give me Norfolk Virginia,
Tidewater four ten O nine
Tell the folks back home this is the promised land callin'
And the poor boy's on the line.

posted by terrapin at 5:45 AM on June 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Jimmy Buffet must love Montana, cause he mentions it in at least three songs:
Come Monday: "Remember that night in Montana, when we said there'd be no room for doubt."
Also, both "RIngling, Ringling" and "Livingstone Saturday Night". Ringling and Livingston are both Montana towns.
posted by juggler at 6:03 AM on June 29, 2006

John Denver apparently had a song called, appropriately enough, "Song of Wyoming."
posted by pardonyou? at 6:50 AM on June 29, 2006

California— Two Minutes Hate
Akuma No Uta— Boris (stretches it)
posted by klangklangston at 7:10 AM on June 29, 2006

california stars by billy bragg + wilco
go west by liz phair
both pretty folksy
posted by apostrophe at 7:24 AM on June 29, 2006

Judy Garland's "Born In A Trunk" (in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho) is a classic.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:46 AM on June 29, 2006

Some country songs:

Heads Carolina, Tails California - Joe Dee Messina
The Beaches Of Cheyenne - Garth Brooks
I Can Still Make Cheyenne - George Strait
California Zephyr - Hank Williams (also mentions Utah, Colorado and Nevada)

The COWPIE Bunkhouse is a good resource for country music lyrics (and tabs).
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:49 AM on June 29, 2006

Oh, forgot one of my most favorite songs. This is old school-style country, not so folksy, but worth a listen:

Streets of Bakersfield - Dwight Yoakam (with the late Buck Owens)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:52 AM on June 29, 2006

Celluloid Heroes (Kinks) references Hollywood Boulevard

I Left My Heart in San Francisco (Tony Bennett)

And it doesn't specifically mention Minnesota, but who doesn't think of Minneapolis when you hear the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore Show?

Love Is All Around (Theme from the Mary Tyler Moore show) - by Joan Jett
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:01 AM on June 29, 2006

Ace Troubleshooter - Chilly Minnesota
Andre Nickatina - Baking Soda In Minnesota
Kind Of Like Spitting - We Got As Far As Minnesota
Tom Waits - 9th and Hennepin
posted by hootch at 9:26 AM on June 29, 2006

Southwest in the Springtime by the Indigo girls.

Randy Newman's I Love LA.
posted by stonefruit at 11:20 AM on June 29, 2006

Actually, make that Southland in the Springtime.
posted by stonefruit at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2006

Since his "Idaho" has already been quoted twice, I'll stand up for "California" by Josh Ritter.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:02 PM on June 29, 2006

Best answer: Check this link:
posted by k8t at 1:17 PM on June 29, 2006

Response by poster: Awesome answers, guys!! (how could I possibly forget Dar Williams' Iowa? One of my favorite songs of ALL TIME!!) The ones I marked as best were both to the Trees Lounge blog-- an huge undertaking and mp3s to download!

This is gonna be a great trip. :)
posted by sarahnade at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2006

"California One" The Decemberists
"San Fransico" Alkaline Trio
"Drinking in LA" Bran Van 3000
"June on the West Coast" Bright Eyes
"Greater Omaha" The Desaparecidos
posted by meeshelle39 at 2:32 PM on June 29, 2006

"Los Angeles" - Frank Black
"It Never Rains In Southern California" - Albert Hammond (cheesy but so what?)
"Malibu" - Hole
"Malibu" - Chick (Different song)
"Santa Monica" - Everclear
"California Here I Come" - Sophie B. Hawkins
posted by SisterHavana at 9:02 PM on June 29, 2006

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