Covering the Land of Lincoln

Spin this 50 states, 50 songs playlist for the Fourth of July

Songs about America stretch to every corner of the country, from the lands Woody Guthrie sang about to everywhere between and beyond.

This Fourth of July, I wanted to make a musical travelogue. To criss-cross the country and cover all 50 states in one epic, 50-song playlist. For a song to make the cut, there were only two rules:

First, the state name must be in the song title. Simple as that. The songwriter doesn’t have to comment on the state, hail from it (or even live in the US), or extol the virtues of its landmarks. Just name the state and let that be honor enough.

And second, I tried (mostly) to avoid obvious choices. No “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Hotel California” or the like. Those songs are terrific, but to make this a little more interesting, it was worth skipping the instant click.

That’s all—everything else was fair game. Throw this playlist on somewhere in the middle of your holiday weekend and, just maybe, it will deepen or even complicate your appreciation for America and its music.

Alabama to Florida

“Alabama Pines,” Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (2011)

“Alaska,” Maggie Rogers (2017)

“Arizona Hotel,” Wilco (1996)

“Mary Queen of Arkansas,” Bruce Springsteen (1973)

“Goodbye to California,” John Hiatt (2011)

“Colorado blues,” Ryan Culwell (2022)

“Connecticut to Carolina,” Mount Moriah (2013)

“Delaware,” Drop Nineteens (1992)

“Florida,” Modest Mouse (2007)

Georgia to Louisiana

“Georgia,” Brittany Howard (2019)

Singer-songwriter Brittany Howard performs on the

“Hawaii,” Blackbird Blackbird (2010)

“Idaho,” Gregory Alan Isakov (2009)

“Champaign, IL,” Old 97s (2010)

“Indiana,” Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek (2014)

“Iowa,” Donovan Woods and Aoife O’Donovan (2021)

“Not in Kansas,” The National (2019)

“My Old Kentucky Home, Goodnight,” John Prine (2019)

“Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,” Emmylou Harris (1978)

Maine to New Hampshire

“Maine,” The Tragic Thrills (2017)

“Going to Maryland,” The Mountain Goats (1994)

“Feelin’ Massachusetts,” Juliana Hatfield Three (1993)

“Michigan,” The Milk Carton Kids (2011)

“Minnesota,” Tiny Moving Parts (2016)

“Mississippi Goddam,” Nina Simone (1964)

“Happiness, Missouri,” El Vy (2015)

“Montana,” Tyco (2014)

“A house in Nebraska,” Ethel Cain (2022)

“Sands of Nevada,” Mark Buttonler (2000)

“New Hampshire,” Sonic Youth (2004)

Sonic Youth (from left) Lee Ranaldo, Mark Ibold, Kim Gordon, Steve Shelley and Thurston Moore

New Jersey to Rhode Island

“New Jersey Makes, the World Takes,” Sense’s Fail (2018)

“New Mexico’s No Breeze,” Iron and Wine (2013)

“The Only Living Boy in New York,” Simon and Garfunkel (1970)

“North Carolina,” The Devil Makes Three (2004)

“N Dakota,” Parquet Courts (2013)

“Look at Miss Ohio,” Gillian Welch (2003)

Gillan Welch

“Oklahoma Sky,” Miranda Lambert (2011)

“Coming Home (Oregon),” Mate Kearney (2015)

“Pennsylvania,” Jars of Clay (2013)

“Rhode Island,” The Innocence Mission (2010)

South Carolina to Wyoming

“South Carolina,” Archers of Loaf (1996)

“South Dakota Wild One,” The Deslondes and Riley Downing (2022)

“Tennessee,” Arrested Development (1992)

“Texas Sun,” Khruangbin and Leon Bridges (2020)

“C’mon Utah!” Shovels and Rope (2019)

“Long Vermont Roads,” The Magnetic Fields (1994)

“Virginia Moon,” Foo Fighters and Norah Jones (2005)

“The Last Great Washington State,” Damien Jurado (2018)

“West Virginia Waltz,” Sierra Ferrell (2021)

“Minnesota, WI,” Bon Iver (2011)

Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.

“wyoming,” Water Liars (2012)

How to listen:

Find this playlist with the online version of the story or at

Aarik Danielsen is the features and culture editor for the Tribune. Contact him at [email protected] or by calling 573-815-1731. Find him on Twitter @aarikdanielsen.

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