10 Songs Everyone From Arkansas Should Recognize
Whether it’s songs about Arkansas or songs written by a native of the Natural State (or even if the song references a native), Arkansans will usually know about it. Granted, there are some melodies that every Arkansas local knows – the U of A fight song is almost a thematic gathering of the troops to call the Hogs. “The Arkansas Traveler” song was even responsible for the name of the capital city’s MiLB baseball team, the Arkansas Travelers. Check out these other songs that feature Arkansas and see how many you recognize!
10. Collin Raye: “Little Rock”
An uplifting country song from this Arkansas native about the capital city was released in 1994.
One of the hits from Raye’s album ‘Extremes’, the song was nominated for a Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year.
9. Grand Funk Railroad: “We’re An American Band”
“Out on the road for forty days! Last night in Little Rock put me in a haze!” This 1973 classic from Grand Funk Railroad name checks both the capital city and one of its most infamous residents.
“Sweet Sweet” Connie Hamzy, who allegedly had the whole show in the opening verse, was and is still known in Arkansas for being a notorious groupie who got cozy with many, many bands and other entertainment shows that ran through Little Rock from the late 1960s well into the 1990s. Hamzy is considered a local legend in Little Rock, having been featured on television shows and in magazines especially during both of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns where she claimed to have been good friends with the former Arkansas governor when he was in office.
8. Henry Thomas – “Arkansas”
This old blues song has a little bit of it all – ramblin’, gamblin’, and a little moonshinin’ too!
Henry Thomas’s “Arkansas” remains a favorite country blues standard for serious guitar pickers.
7. Jimmy Driftwood – “Down in the Arkansas”
Born near Mountain View, Arkansas, Jimmy Driftwood wrote over 6,000 songs and gained national fame when Johnny Horton recorded Driftwood’s “The Battle of New Orleans” in 1959.
Born James Corbett Morris, he was given the name Driftwood as the result of a joke his grandfather had played on his grandmother. When the two went to visit their new grandson, Driftwood’s grandfather arrived first and wrapped a bundle of old sticks in a blanket. When Driftwood’s grandmother arrived, she was handed the bundle and remarked, “Why, it ain’t nothing but driftwood.”
6. Jimmy McCracklin – “Arkansas”
The late Jimmy McCracklin, father of the West Coast Blues, is said to have been born in Helena, Arkansas before he grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, so that may have given him inspiration for this number.
McCracklin, a favorite of fellow musician Bob Dylan, enjoyed a successful career and passed away at the age of 91 in 2012 while living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
5. Sufjan Stevens – “The Lord God Bird”
This song by Detroit-based songwriter Sufjan Stevens is a more recent release and is based in Arkansas. The song’s lyrics are about the extremely endangered ivory billed woodpecker.
Reports of at least one male ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas in 2004 were investigated and subsequently published in April 2005 by a team led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
4. The Gossip – “Arkansas Heat”
The groundbreaking indie rock band The Gossip are natives of Searcy, Arkansas despite the band’s Olympia, Washington roots.
The band’s style has been described as “a soul or gospel” voice with “a sort of funky punk soundtrack”.
3. “The Arkansas Traveler” Folk Song
This standard fiddle classic came to define not only the state of Arkansas itself but also its laid back, friendly culture.
“The Arkansas Traveler” was the state song of Arkansas from 1949 to 1963; it has been the state historical song since 1987.
2. Glen Campbell – “Arkansas”
This Arkansas native puts in words the beauty of the Natural State and what a glory it is to live here!
Originally released in 1969, this song still very much embodies the spirit and the feelings of today’s Arkansas residents and natives of the state.
1. Wayland Holyfield – “(Arkansas) You Run Deep in Me”
“Oh, I may wander but when I do – I will never be far from you! You’re in my blood and I know you’ll always be…” If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’re just not from around here.
Most natives of the Natural State will sing the lyrics loud and proud right along with you to this one. Many remember this classic jewel as the sign-off song for Channel 2 (or “PBS” as they call it around the rest of the country). “You Run Deep in Me” is one of Arkansas’s official state songs, written in 1986 by native Arkansan Holyfield for the state’s 150th anniversary celebration.
The Natural State is home to a lot of singers and songwriters who have gone on to do great things in the music industry, but there’s nothing like a good song about home.