Table of Contents
- 1. “Witchita Lineman” by Glen Campbell
- 2. Wichita Skyline
- 3. “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore” by Jo Dee Messina
- 4. “On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” by Judy Garland
- 5. “Home on the Range” by Roy Rogers
- 6. “Kansas Rain” by John Stewart
- 7. “Ringing in the Year” by Turnpike Troubadours.
- 8. “Belexes” by Kansas
- 9. “One’s On The Way” by Loretta Lynn
- 10. “Sunflower” by Russ Morgan
Kansas, located in the heart of the United States, has long been an inspiration for songwriters. The state’s rolling prairies, towering wheat fields, and small towns have provided a rich tapestry for musicians to draw from. Whether it’s the state’s long-standing history as a center of agriculture and industry or its cultural and historical significance, Kansas has served as a muse for many artists. In this article, we will take a closer look at the top 10 best songs about Kansas. From classic rock to country, these songs capture the essence of the Sunflower State and showcase its unique character. Some of these songs celebrate the state’s natural beauty, while others delve into the struggles and triumphs of everyday life in Kansas. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or a curious outsider, these songs are sure to strike a chord and resonate with anyone who loves this great state. So, let’s dive in and explore the best songs about Kansas.
1. “Witchita Lineman” by Glen Campbell
“Wichita Lineman” is a classic song by American singer-songwriter Glen Campbell, released in 1968. The song is about a lonely lineman who is working on the telephone wires in Wichita, Kansas and is missing his significant other. It was written by Jimmy Webb, who also wrote some of Campbell’s other hits such as “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Galveston”. The song has a melancholic and wistful quality, with Campbell’s smooth vocals perfectly conveying the emotion of the lyrics. The arrangement features a lush orchestration and a memorable guitar solo that has become iconic. The song was a commercial and critical success, reaching the top of the charts in both the US and UK. It has since been covered by many artists and has become a beloved classic. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000 and was also included in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
2. Wichita Skyline
“Wichita Skyline” is a beautiful and contemplative song by singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin. The song describes the city of Wichita, Kansas and its skyline, which is “the only thing that changes” as the seasons pass. Colvin sings about the loneliness and longing she feels as she gazes out at the cityscape, wondering where her lover is and whether they will ever be together again. The lyrics are poetic and introspective, with Colvin’s delicate vocals perfectly complementing the melancholy melody. The song is a tribute to the city of Wichita, which is often overlooked in popular culture, and a poignant expression of the universal human experience of yearning for connection and love.
3. “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore” by Jo Dee Messina
Jo Dee Messina’s “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore” is a lively and upbeat country song that pays homage to the state of Kansas. The song’s lyrics reference iconic landmarks and places like the Yellow Brick Road and the Wizard of Oz, which were both set in the state. Messina sings about the feeling of being transported to a magical place, and the excitement of exploring new surroundings. The song features twangy guitar riffs and an upbeat tempo that perfectly capture the spirit of Kansas. Messina’s energetic and enthusiastic delivery brings the lyrics to life, making this song a fun and catchy ode to the Sunflower State. Whether you’re a Kansas native or just passing through, “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore” is sure to get your toes tapping and your head nodding along to the rhythm.
4. “On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” by Judy Garland
“On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” is a classic song from the 1946 film “The Harvey Girls,” performed by the legendary Judy Garland. The song is an ode to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, which was a major railroad company in the late 19th and early 20th century. The song features upbeat music and lyrics that describe the journey on the railway from Kansas to California. It also highlights the opportunities that the railway provided for people to travel and see the country. The song was a massive hit, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song and becoming one of Garland’s signature songs. It has since been covered by many other artists and has remained a popular tune for over 75 years. The song captures the spirit of adventure and freedom that the railway provided, and is a great reminder of the important role that transportation has played in shaping the United States.
5. “Home on the Range” by Roy Rogers
“Home on the Range” is a classic American folk song that has become closely associated with the state of Kansas. It is said to have been written by Dr. Brewster Higley, a Kansas physician, in the late 19th century. The song’s simple and heartfelt melody, along with its lyrics celebrating the beauty and tranquility of the American prairie, have made it a beloved and enduring part of the country music canon. In this rendition by Roy Rogers, the song is given a lively and upbeat interpretation, with his smooth vocals accompanied by the twangy sound of his guitar. The song’s refrain, “Home, home on the range / Where the deer and the antelope play / Where seldom is heard a discouraging word / And the skies are not cloudy all day,” captures the essence of the wide open spaces of the Midwest and the sense of freedom and possibility that it represents. “Home on the Range” remains a favorite of many country music fans, as well as a source of pride for the people of Kansas.
6. “Kansas Rain” by John Stewart
“Kansas Rain” is a soulful country ballad that captures the essence of the Midwestern state of Kansas. The song tells a story of a man who finds himself in Kansas, feeling lost and alone, but the sound of the rain falling on the prairie reminds him of home. John Stewart’s vocals are emotive, and the acoustic guitar and harmonica accompaniment create a mood that is both melancholic and soothing. The lyrics paint a picture of the Kansas landscape, the people, and their way of life, all while capturing the feelings of isolation and longing that come with being far from home. The song’s chorus, “Kansas rain, wash away my pain, let me start again, let me start again,” is a plea for renewal and hope, as the protagonist searches for a way to make a new life in this unfamiliar place. “Kansas Rain” is a beautiful ode to the state of Kansas and the emotional complexities of being far from home.
7. “Ringing in the Year” by Turnpike Troubadours.
“Ringing in the Year” is a lively and energetic song by the Oklahoma-based band Turnpike Troubadours. The song features a driving beat and catchy guitar riffs, with lead singer Evan Felker’s vocals full of emotion and grit.
Lyrically, “Ringing in the Year” tells the story of a man who is facing the end of the year and all the challenges and changes that come with it. He reflects on his past experiences and struggles, and looks forward to a fresh start and new opportunities in the coming year. The chorus is especially memorable, with the repeated refrain of “Ringing in the year with one more round, let the past and the future all come down.”
Overall, “Ringing in the Year” is a rollicking and fun song that captures the spirit of the new year and the hope and optimism that comes with it. The Turnpike Troubadours bring their signature blend of country, rock, and folk to the song, making it a standout track on their album “A Long Way from Your Heart”.
8. “Belexes” by Kansas
“Belexes” is a progressive rock instrumental track by the American band, Kansas, from their self-titled debut album released in 1974. The song features intricate guitar riffs, keyboards, and dynamic shifts in tempo and mood, showcasing the band’s technical musicianship and complex arrangements. The title of the track is a made-up word, and it serves as an abbreviation of “Bellicose Reflex”, referring to a physical reflex in which a person becomes aggressive in response to a particular stimulus. The track showcases the band’s ability to create intricate and atmospheric music with heavy rock elements. The guitar solos in the song by Kerry Livgren and Rich Williams are particularly noteworthy, showcasing their technical proficiency and virtuosity. “Belexes” remains a fan favorite and an example of Kansas’ early musical style that helped establish them as a prominent name in the progressive rock scene.
9. “One’s On The Way” by Loretta Lynn
“One’s On The Way” by Loretta Lynn is a classic country song that talks about the everyday life of a housewife in Kansas. The song is a humorous take on the struggles and responsibilities of a mother, wife and homemaker, with lyrics that highlight the chaos and madness of her daily routine. With Loretta’s powerful voice and clever songwriting, the song paints a vivid picture of life in rural Kansas during the 1970s. The song’s catchy chorus and relatable lyrics made it a hit among women of all ages who could identify with the song’s message. Even today, “One’s On The Way” remains a timeless classic that captures the essence of life in Kansas and the challenges that come with it.
10. “Sunflower” by Russ Morgan
“Sunflower” is a classic big band jazz tune performed by Russ Morgan and his orchestra in the 1940s. The song has a lively and upbeat tempo with a catchy melody and features the lyrics, “sunflower, that’s my heart you’ve taken, sunflower, you’ve made my life a song”. The use of the sunflower as a metaphor for love and passion is a common theme in the song, and the instrumentation of the orchestra creates a bright and cheerful atmosphere. The song became a popular hit during its time and has remained a beloved classic in the genre of big band jazz. It has also been covered by various artists over the years, including Rosemary Clooney and The Manhattan Transfer. “Sunflower” is a timeless song that captures the essence of the golden age of jazz and swing music, and continues to delight audiences with its lively and spirited performance.