Kentucky is a beautiful state with a lot of coal mining, bourbon, bluegrass music, and horse racing history. We have also been home to some amazing musicians, and visiting musicians who were touched by the Bluegrass State and inspired to write a song about it. Each one of these songs holds true to a piece of our history, and can remind us what an incredible state we are blessed to live in.

Here are 13 songs about Kentucky that will take you on a memory trip with the musicians:

1) Blue Moon of Kentucky, Rosine native Bill Monroe 

It was later released with Elvis Presley “That’s All Right”, and became a huge hit, but Patsy Cline did my favorite version.

2) Kentucky in the Morning, Tom T Hall

This is a beautiful song about waking up and enjoying the countryside in Kentucky. It was Hall’s dedication to the Bluegrass State.

3) You Will Never Leave Harlan Alive, Darrel Scott of London KY

This was redone by Brad Paisley and became popular at that time, but Patty Loveless did a heartfelt version that can bring a tear to your eye. This is about the problems and poverty of the coal mining families who made their home in Harlan.

4) My Old Kentucky Home, Stephen Foster

Most people are familiar with this famed song about the Bluegrass State by Stephen Foster in the 1800s. It has been redone by many, but John Prine is probably my favorite.

5) Moonshiner, Bob Dylan

The actual place this is written about is unclear, but it is reminiscent of the old moonshiner days in Kentucky. In 1933, Tex Ritter wrote Jack of Diamonds, which is very similar but not exact.

6) Kentucky Rain, Eddie Rabbit and Dick Heard

Elvis Presley’s voice made this song ring out across America.

7) Run for the Roses, Dan Fogleberg

Fogleberg wrote this for and about the 1980 Kentucky Derby.

8) Kentucky Mandolin, Yonder Mountain String Band

This renowned bluegrass song has been redone a few times, but most recently in 2004 by the Yonder Mountain String Band. This has some amazing picking all throughout the song. Well worth the listen.

9) Postcards from Kentucky, Rocky Votolato

The song is about starting a new life in Kentucky after a sad time.

10) Kentucky Bourbon, Murder by Death

The cellist/keyboardist wrote this song while scrubbing out her bathtub. It is meant as a good time Kentucky drinking song, nothing more, nothing less.

11) Kentucky Women, Neil Diamond

This 1967 hit song hit the American, Australian and Canadian music charts. It was redone by Deep Purple in 1968, and again, hit all the charts, including the top 100 in America.  Just for the record, Kentucky women do “shine in their own kinda light”.

12) Kentucky Moon, Jake Ousley

This song was written to encourage “a chill, happy mood” according to Ousley. I think he did a fine job.

13) Paradise by John Prine

This is written about the town of Paradise in beautiful Muhlenberg County. Beautiful song, sad story. The town was abolished due to coal mining and destruction of the property but the amazing environment lives on in song.

Some of you may not be fans of bourbon or horse racing, but you cannot dispute the beauty of Kentucky’s land and people. Many call the Bluegrass State home because it’s hard to find anywhere else that has such a friendly, down home atmosphere. I am grateful to these wonderful musicians who tried to capture the beauty and history of our fair state in song. There are plenty of other songs about Kentucky, so please post your favorites in the comments.

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