Table of Contents
- 1. “Chicago” By Sufjan Stevens
- 2. “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” by Frank Sinatra
- 3. “65th And Ingleside” By Chance The Rapper
- 4. “Someday We’ll Go All The Way” By Eddie Vedder
- 5. “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” By Creedence Clearwater Revival
- 6. “Johnsburg, Illinois” By Tom Waits
- 7. “Homecoming” By Kanye West
- 8. “100 Chicagos” By Lupe Fiasco
- 9. “2120 South Michigan Avenue” By The Rolling Stones
- 10. “My Kind Of Town” By Frank Sinatra
Illinois, a state in the Midwestern region of the United States, is known for its vibrant culture, historical significance, and diverse music scene. From the bustling city of Chicago to the scenic countryside, the state has inspired numerous musicians to create songs that celebrate its unique character. This article presents the top 10 best songs about Illinois that showcase the rich heritage and beauty of the state. The list includes a mix of genres, from blues and rock to folk and country. Each song captures the essence of Illinois in its own unique way, reflecting on the state’s history, landmarks, and people. These songs are not only a celebration of Illinois but also serve as an inspiration to its residents and visitors to explore the state’s treasures. Whether you are a lifelong resident or a first-time visitor, these songs will take you on a musical journey through the heart of Illinois. So, sit back, turn up the volume, and get ready to be transported to the land of Lincoln through the power of music.
1. “Chicago” By Sufjan Stevens
“Chicago” is a song by American indie folk musician Sufjan Stevens, released on his 2005 album “Illinois.” The song is a tribute to the city of Chicago and its landmarks, history, and culture. The track features Stevens’ signature blend of indie folk and experimental orchestration, with lyrics that reference iconic Chicago sites such as the John Hancock Center, Lake Michigan, and the Sears Tower. The song has been praised for its vivid imagery and evocative storytelling, with many considering it a standout track on the album. “Chicago” has since become one of Stevens’ most popular songs and has been covered by numerous artists.
2. “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” by Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra’s “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” is an upbeat and jazzy tribute to the vibrant city of Chicago. Originally written in 1922 by Fred Fisher, the song was later made famous by Sinatra in his 1957 album “Come Fly With Me.” The lyrics paint a vivid picture of Chicago’s bustling nightlife, from the bright lights of State Street to the jazz clubs and dance halls of the North Side. Sinatra’s smooth vocals are accompanied by a lively orchestra, complete with horns, drums, and a swinging rhythm section that captures the energy of the city. The song has since become an iconic anthem for Chicago, capturing the spirit and essence of this dynamic metropolis.
3. “65th And Ingleside” By Chance The Rapper
Chance the Rapper’s “65th and Ingleside” is a love letter to his hometown of Chicago, specifically the South Side neighborhood of Englewood. The song pays homage to the streets and landmarks that shaped Chance’s upbringing, while also reflecting on his personal growth and maturity. With its smooth jazz-influenced beat and introspective lyrics, “65th and Ingleside” is a departure from Chance’s more upbeat and energetic tracks, showing a more vulnerable and emotional side of the artist. The song’s title refers to the intersection where Chance’s fiancée, Kirsten Corley, grew up, and the lyrics touch on the couple’s journey to rekindling their relationship and starting a family. Overall, “65th and Ingleside” is a heartfelt tribute to Chance’s roots and a celebration of his love for his city.
4. “Someday We’ll Go All The Way” By Eddie Vedder
“Someday We’ll Go All The Way” is a song by American musician Eddie Vedder, known for being the lead vocalist of the alternative rock band Pearl Jam. The song is an ode to the city of Chicago, celebrating its sports culture and the never-ending spirit of its fans. The lyrics are inspired by the Chicago Cubs’ 2008 season, when they advanced to the National League Division Series, and reflect the hope and optimism of Chicagoans as they wait for their team to win a World Series title.
The song features Vedder’s signature gravelly voice accompanied by acoustic guitar, piano, and strings, creating an emotional and nostalgic sound. The chorus is a rallying cry for Cubs fans, expressing the belief that someday their team will win it all, and the joy that it will bring to the city. The song has become an anthem for Cubs fans and Chicago sports fans in general, played at many games and events.
“Someday We’ll Go All The Way” captures the heart and soul of Chicago and its sports culture, inspiring hope and unity among its fans.
5. “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” By Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door” is a song by the American rock band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, which was released in 1970. The song has a laid-back and catchy melody that features a unique blend of country, rock, and psychedelic influences. It is known for its whimsical and surreal lyrics, which describe a series of bizarre and colorful images that the narrator sees from his back door, including a giant doin’ cartwheels, a statue wearin’ high heels, and a dinosaur Victrola.
The song has become an anthem for the state of Illinois, as it references many of its cultural icons and symbols, such as the cornfields and the State Fair. Despite its seemingly lighthearted tone, the song has a deeper meaning about the joy and wonder of life and the need to appreciate the small and beautiful things that surround us. The catchy tune and playful lyrics have made it a beloved classic and a staple in American popular culture.
6. “Johnsburg, Illinois” By Tom Waits
“Johnsburg, Illinois” is a bluesy folk song by Tom Waits that tells a story of a man who leaves his small Illinois town to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood. However, he ultimately returns home to find that life in his hometown is what truly matters to him. Waits paints a vivid picture of the Midwest town, describing the people and places with a sense of nostalgia and appreciation. The song has a slow, mournful melody that perfectly captures the bittersweet feeling of returning home after a long absence. Waits’ gravelly voice adds to the sense of world-weariness and longing that permeates the song. Overall, “Johnsburg, Illinois” is a haunting tribute to the beauty and simplicity of small-town life, and the sense of belonging that can only be found in the place where one grew up.
7. “Homecoming” By Kanye West
“Homecoming” is a song by American rapper Kanye West, featuring Chris Martin of the band Coldplay. The song is a tribute to West’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois, and samples “Home” by American singer-songwriter Curtis Mayfield. The upbeat and catchy track, released in 2007, details West’s struggles with fame and the longing he feels for his hometown. Martin’s vocals on the chorus add a touch of nostalgia and wistfulness to the song, making it an emotional ode to Chicago. The music video for “Homecoming” also features Chicago landmarks and a parade through the city. It was nominated for Best Hip-Hop Video at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. The song has been praised for its unique sound and West’s honest lyrics about his experiences growing up in Chicago. It remains a popular track among fans and is often cited as one of West’s best songs.
8. “100 Chicagos” By Lupe Fiasco
“100 Chicagos” by Lupe Fiasco is a powerful and emotional rap song that addresses the issue of gun violence and its devastating impact on communities across America, particularly in Chicago. The song opens with a sample of a news report describing a shooting that took place in the city, setting the tone for the rest of the track.
Lupe’s lyrics are introspective and raw as he reflects on his own experiences growing up in Chicago and witnessing the violence firsthand. He addresses the systemic issues that contribute to the problem, such as poverty, lack of education, and inadequate access to resources.
The chorus is haunting, with Lupe repeating the line “100 Chicagos” to emphasize the widespread nature of the issue. He also references historical figures such as Malcolm X and Fred Hampton, who fought for justice and equality in Chicago, and challenges listeners to take action and create change.
The song’s production is minimalistic, with a somber piano melody and sparse percussion, allowing Lupe’s lyrics to take center stage. The overall effect is a powerful and poignant call to action that demands attention and inspires reflection on the urgent need for solutions to gun violence in America.
9. “2120 South Michigan Avenue” By The Rolling Stones
“2120 South Michigan Avenue” is a blues rock instrumental track by The Rolling Stones, named after the address of Chess Records studio in Chicago. The song features a classic blues riff, punctuated by Mick Jagger’s harmonica and Keith Richards’ guitar solos, creating an energetic and dynamic sound.
The song pays homage to the African American musicians who recorded at Chess Records in the 1950s and 60s, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Chuck Berry. The Rolling Stones were heavily influenced by these musicians and their style of blues, which they incorporated into their own music.
“2120 South Michigan Avenue” captures the raw energy and spontaneity of the blues, with each member of the band taking turns to showcase their skills. The song is a testament to the band’s musical prowess and their ability to pay tribute to the genre that inspired them.
The track is also significant in the context of the civil rights movement, as it highlights the important role that African American musicians played in shaping American popular music. The song is a celebration of this legacy and a reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice in America.
Overall, “2120 South Michigan Avenue” is a classic blues rock instrumental that showcases The Rolling Stones’ musical talents and pays tribute to the rich history of blues music in America.
10. “My Kind Of Town” By Frank Sinatra
“My Kind of Town” is a classic song by Frank Sinatra that celebrates the city of Chicago, which was famously referred to as his “kind of town.” The song opens with a swinging brass section and Sinatra’s smooth vocals, setting the tone for a lively and upbeat track.
The lyrics paint a vivid picture of the city, describing its bustling streets, diverse neighborhoods, and vibrant nightlife. Sinatra sings of his love for the city, highlighting its unique character and charm. The chorus, with its catchy melody and sing-along lyrics, is a tribute to the city’s enduring appeal.
The song was written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, who collaborated on many of Sinatra’s most famous tracks. The upbeat tempo and joyful tone of “My Kind of Town” perfectly capture the spirit of the city, and the song has become a beloved anthem for Chicagoans.
The track has been covered by many other artists over the years, but it remains a signature song for Sinatra and a timeless tribute to the Windy City. “My Kind of Town” is a classic example of Sinatra’s ability to capture the essence of a place with his music, and it continues to inspire nostalgia and fond memories of Chicago to this day.