Table of Contents
- 1. “Jersey Girl” by Tom Waits
- 2. “I’m From New Jersey” by John Gorka
- 3. “Hackensack” by Fountains of Love
- 4. “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” by Bruce Springsteen
- 5. “Raise Your Hands” by Bon Jovi
- 6. “Jersey Bounce” by Ella Fitzgerald
- 7. “Wildwood Days” by Bobby Rydell
- 8. “I Like Jersey Best” by John Pizzarelli
- 9. “Over on the Jersey Side” by Bill Murray
- 10. “Open All Night” by Bruce Springsteen
New Jersey has long been a muse to musicians, inspiring some of the greatest songs in music history. From Bruce Springsteen’s anthems to Bon Jovi’s rock ballads, the Garden State has captured the hearts of countless artists and listeners alike. This list compiles some of the best songs about New Jersey, showcasing the state’s rich musical heritage and cultural significance. Whether you’re a native New Jerseyan or simply a lover of great music, these songs will take you on a journey through the streets of Newark, the boardwalks of Asbury Park, and the shores of the Atlantic. So sit back, turn up the volume, and get ready to be transported to the land of Bruce and Bon Jovi with these top 10 songs about New Jersey.
1. “Jersey Girl” by Tom Waits
“Jersey Girl” is a song by American singer-songwriter Tom Waits, originally released on his 1980 album “Heartattack and Vine”. The song has become one of Waits’ most popular and beloved compositions, and has been covered by a number of artists over the years. The song is a romantic tribute to a working-class girl from New Jersey, with Waits’ gravelly vocals and sparse piano accompaniment capturing the beauty and resilience of his subject. The lyrics are filled with vivid descriptions of life in the Garden State, from the neon lights of the Jersey Shore to the diners and bars that dot the highways and byways of the state.
2. “I’m From New Jersey” by John Gorka
I’m From New Jersey” is a song by American folk singer-songwriter John Gorka, released on his 1991 album “Jack’s Crows”. The song is an ode to Gorka’s home state, celebrating the unique quirks and charms of life in the Garden State. The song’s lyrics are filled with references to the landmarks and people of New Jersey, from the “Sandy Hook to Cape May” beaches to the diners and turnpikes that crisscross the state. Gorka’s gentle guitar strumming and earnest vocals capture the spirit of New Jersey, with its proud working-class roots and fiercely independent spirit.
3. “Hackensack” by Fountains of Love
“Hackensack” is a song by the American rock band Fountains of Wayne, released on their 2003 album “Welcome Interstate Managers”. The song is a wistful tribute to a lost love, with the protagonist reminiscing about his time spent in the New Jersey town of Hackensack with his ex-girlfriend. The song’s lyrics capture the melancholy beauty of the suburban landscape, with references to strip malls, parking lots, and gas stations evoking the mundane but bittersweet details of everyday life. Lead singer Chris Collingwood’s plaintive vocals add to the song’s emotional depth, conveying a sense of longing and regret. Despite its focus on a specific town in New Jersey, “Hackensack” has resonated with listeners around the world, becoming one of Fountains of Wayne’s most beloved and enduring songs. Its themes of love, loss, and nostalgia are universal, and its celebration of the small moments that shape our lives has made it a beloved classic of modern rock music.
4. “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” by Bruce Springsteen
“4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” is a song by Bruce Springsteen, released in 1973 on his album “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle”. The song is a nostalgic and romantic ode to the seaside resort town of Asbury Park, New Jersey, and its boardwalk culture. The song opens with a description of the carnival atmosphere of the boardwalk, with its flashing lights, spinning rides, and crowded beach. Springsteen then introduces the character of Sandy, a local girl who represents the innocence and beauty of the town. As the song progresses, Springsteen contrasts the romantic vision of Asbury Park with the harsh realities of life in a struggling, working-class town. He describes the “teen angels” who have “lost their wings”, and the “Spanish Johnny” who “drinks his money away”. Despite these hardships, Springsteen celebrates the resilience and spirit of the people who call Asbury Park home.
5. “Raise Your Hands” by Bon Jovi
“Raise Your Hands” is a high-energy rock anthem by Bon Jovi, released in 1988 as the second single from their album “New Jersey”. The song features a heavy guitar riff and a catchy chorus that encourages listeners to join in and raise their hands in celebration. The lyrics of “Raise Your Hands” are centered around the idea of letting go of your worries and living in the moment. The song begins with the lines “You – you got a nasty reputation / We’re in a sticky situation” which suggests that the protagonist is facing some kind of challenge. However, the chorus encourages him to forget his problems and raise his hands up high: “Come on, raise your hands / When you want to let it go / Raise your hands / When you want to let a feeling show”. “Raise Your Hands” is a classic example of the upbeat, anthemic rock sound that Bon Jovi became known for in the late 80s and early 90s. The song’s energetic and optimistic message, coupled with its memorable hook, has made it a fan favorite and a staple of Bon Jovi’s live shows.
6. “Jersey Bounce” by Ella Fitzgerald
“Jersey Bounce” is a classic swing tune that was first popularized by Benny Goodman in the 1940s. The song has since been covered by a number of jazz and big band artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, who recorded her version in 1958. Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Jersey Bounce” features her signature scat singing, with her voice playfully weaving in and out of the brass and percussion sections. The song opens with a lively instrumental introduction, with the horns and piano playing a fast-paced melody that sets the tone for the rest of the track. When Fitzgerald enters, she improvises her own lyrics on top of the melody, using her voice as another instrument in the arrangement.
7. “Wildwood Days” by Bobby Rydell
“Wildwood Days” is a nostalgic song by Bobby Rydell about a summer vacation at Wildwood, a popular seaside resort in New Jersey. The song was released in 1963 and quickly became a hit, reaching number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has a fun and upbeat melody, with Rydell’s vocals expressing a sense of excitement and anticipation for the upcoming trip. The lyrics describe the various activities and attractions of Wildwood, such as the boardwalk, roller coasters, and arcade games. The chorus encourages listeners to “come and join the fun” and experience the magic of Wildwood for themselves. The song captures the essence of summertime in New Jersey, evoking feelings of joy, freedom, and carefree fun. For many people, Wildwood and other Jersey Shore towns hold a special place in their hearts, representing cherished memories of family vacations, summer romance, and youthful adventures. “Wildwood Days” is a beloved anthem that celebrates the unique culture and spirit of New Jersey’s seaside resorts.
8. “I Like Jersey Best” by John Pizzarelli
I Like Jersey Best” is a lighthearted and catchy song by jazz guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli that celebrates the Garden State of New Jersey. The song features playful lyrics that highlight the many great things about the state, such as the boardwalks, diners, and famous landmarks like the George Washington Bridge and Atlantic City. Pizzarelli’s smooth and upbeat vocal delivery is accompanied by his signature guitar playing style, which combines jazz chords with swing rhythms. The song also features a lively horn section that adds to the festive feel of the track. The song has become a beloved anthem for New Jerseyans, who take pride in their state and its unique culture. Pizzarelli’s tribute to the state has resonated with many who share his fond memories of growing up in New Jersey and enjoying all that it has to offer.
9. “Over on the Jersey Side” by Bill Murray
Over on the Jersey Side” is a song that was originally featured in the 1978 comedy film “National Lampoon’s Animal House” and was performed by actor Bill Murray, who portrayed the character of Tripper Harrison. The song is a humorous tribute to the state of New Jersey, with lyrics that highlight the state’s iconic landmarks, such as the Jersey Shore, the Turnpike, and Atlantic City. The song is an upbeat, lighthearted tune with a catchy melody that captures the playful spirit of the film. Murray’s delivery is tongue-in-cheek and his lyrics are clever and humorous, making it a memorable part of the movie’s soundtrack. Although not originally intended to be a serious tribute to New Jersey, the song has become a beloved anthem for fans of the state and the film. It has been covered by various artists over the years and is often played at events and celebrations in New Jersey.
10. “Open All Night” by Bruce Springsteen
Open All Night” is a rock song by Bruce Springsteen from his album “Nebraska,” released in 1982. The song is set in New Jersey and tells the story of a man driving through the state late at night, stopping at various places along the way. The lyrics are full of vivid descriptions of the state, including references to the boardwalk in Asbury Park, diners, and the New Jersey Turnpike. The song is notable for its sparse, acoustic sound, which is typical of the “Nebraska” album as a whole. Springsteen recorded the album at home on a 4-track cassette recorder, giving it a raw and intimate feel. The album was a departure from his usual sound, and it was initially met with mixed reviews. However, over time it has come to be regarded as a classic and a favorite among Springsteen fans.