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15 Songs That Perfectly Capture North Carolina

As a music lover, I consider myself lucky to be from such a musically talented state. Whether you’re home or abroad, there’s nothing like some good tunes to kick that NC nostalgia and pride into high gear!

Here are fifteen awesome songs that capture the spirit of North Carolina.

1. James Taylor- Carolina In My Mind

It doesn’t get more ‘Classic Carolina’ then James Taylor! When I went out of state for college, I might have shed a few tears whenever this song came on my ipod!

2. Old Crow Medicine Show- Wagon Wheel

We’ve all sung the first two lines of this song with such pride and happiness! Land of the pine! Thumbin’ my way into North Caroline!

3. Eric Church- Carolina

Granite Falls native Eric Church made the whole nation want to be from Carolina with this song!

4. Al Jolson- Carolina in the Morning

We’re taking it back to 1947 with this original Carolina jam!

5. Carolina Chocolate Drops- Leaving Eden

This song is just beautiful! With family in Eden, it’s dear to my heart. But this song also captures the darker, harder times of North Carolina and the reality of leaving small towns in search of economic prosperity.

6. Ryan Adams- Oh, My Sweet Carolina

You don’t know true homesickness until you leave North Carolina and yearn to come back!

7. Petey Pablo- Raise Up

I’m sorry but this list WOULD NOT be complete without Petey Pablo. C’MON AND RAISE UP! (and yes we all wait for the part where he calls out our hometown.)

8. Shooter Jennings- Gone to Carolina

This gritty but good country song by Shooter Jennings (the son of the late Waylon Jennings) perfectly captures how we can always come back to Carolina, no matter where we are.

9. Avett Brothers- Pretty Girl From Raleigh

While the song makes no ‘direct’ references to the state as a whole, this band from Concord has now hit national celebrity status. A lot of their songs touch on, or have underlying themes about, their Carolina roots . In this video they’re performing on their farm outside of Charlotte. It’s pretty cool and you can hear the North Carolina musical influence heavily in this video!

10. Sonic Youth- Chapel Hill

While Sonic Youth isn’t for everyone, this song is a great meditation on how Chapel Hill was one of the most vibrant and political places after the Cold War. It is also a great ode to the music scene that was in this area at the time.

11. Townes Van Zandt- Greensboro Woman

Women from North Carolina sure are seductive….but Townes had the power to say no!

12. Neko Case- Poor Ellen Smith

This infamous murder ballad about a real murder and execution that happened in Winston-Salem has been adapted by a number of different artists, but I do love this folk/bluegrass version by Neko Case.

13. John D. Loudermilk- Tobacco Road

Originally recorded by John D. Loudermilk in 1960, Tobacco Road became a hit for several artists, most notably being The Nashville Teens in 1964. Yet, Loudermilk perfectly captures his struggles, and perspective, of growing up outside of Durham in this semi-autobiographical song.

14.  The Allman Brothers Band- Soulshine

While Soulshine has no direct references to North Carolina, this Allman Brothers hit was written by Asheville native Warren Hayes.

15. General Johnson and the Chairman of the Board- Carolina Girls

This song is a classic beach vacation jam and the perfect ode to Carolina Girls!

 

Which songs are your favorite, and which ones did I miss? Tell me in the comments!

Emory Rakestraw
Emory was born and raised in North Carolina. She enjoys writing, photography, filmmaking, travel, wine and cheese. You can find more of her work on emoryrakestraw.com