Table of Contents
- 1. “My Old Virginia Home” By The Carter Family
- 2. “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” By Lin-Manuel Miranda
- 3. “Carry Me Back To Old Virginny” Written By James A. Bland
- 4. “James River Blues” By Old Crow Medicine Show
- 5. “Sweet Virginia Breeze” By The Robbin Thompson Band
- 6. “Our Great Virginia” By Mike Greenly
- 7. “I Went Down To Virginia” By Frank Sinatra
- 8. “Virginia” By Clipse
- 9. “Clinch Mountain Backstep” By Ralph Stanley
- 10. “Virginia Moon” By Foo Fighters
Virginia has long been a hub of musical creativity and innovation, with a rich and diverse musical heritage that spans from the earliest days of American folk music to the cutting-edge sounds of contemporary hip-hop and indie rock. Over the years, countless musicians have been inspired by Virginia’s natural beauty, its vibrant culture, and its rich history, and have used these themes to create songs that capture the essence of the state in all its glory.
In this list, we will explore 10 of the best songs about Virginia, spanning genres and eras to showcase the breadth and depth of the state’s musical legacy. From classic folk songs to hard-hitting hip-hop anthems, these songs all share a common thread of capturing the spirit of Virginia in all its complexity and diversity.
Whether you’re a lifelong Virginian or a curious outsider looking to explore the state’s musical heritage, these songs offer a powerful and evocative window into the soul of the Commonwealth. So sit back, hit play, and let the music transport you to the rolling hills, bustling cities, and hidden corners of one of America’s most fascinating and enduring cultural treasures.
1. “My Old Virginia Home” By The Carter Family
“My Old Virginia Home” is a sentimental and nostalgic country song by The Carter Family, a legendary American music group from Virginia. The song’s lyrics reminisce about the singer’s childhood memories and life in their hometown of Virginia. The song describes the beauty of the natural surroundings, including the rolling hills, the blue skies, and the meandering rivers. The singer also recalls the people and places they knew, such as the old oak tree, the church on the hill, and the sound of the train passing through town.
The song’s melody is simple and evocative, featuring acoustic guitar, banjo, and fiddle accompaniment, which creates a rustic and authentic feel. The Carter Family’s harmonies are rich and heartfelt, conveying a sense of deep emotional connection to the subject matter. The song’s chorus is particularly memorable, featuring the lines “Take me back to my old Virginia home/Where the daisies and the clover grow.”
Overall, “My Old Virginia Home” is a tender and wistful tribute to the singer’s roots and to the beauty of rural America. The song captures the sense of longing for home that many people feel, even as they move on to new places and experiences. It is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with listeners today.
2. “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” By Lin-Manuel Miranda
“Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” is a high-energy, rap-infused Broadway showstopper from the hit musical “Hamilton,” written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The song describes the climactic battle of the American Revolutionary War in 1781, which culminated in the surrender of British forces at Yorktown, Virginia. The lyrics vividly depict the chaos and violence of the battle, as well as the courage and determination of the American soldiers.
The song opens with the sound of gunshots and cannon fire, as the soldiers charge into battle. Miranda’s fast-paced and rhythmic lyrics convey the sense of urgency and adrenaline that must have been felt in the heat of the moment. The chorus features the line “The world turned upside down,” which refers to the shock and disbelief felt by the British soldiers upon their defeat.
The song’s musical arrangement is dynamic and exciting, featuring a mix of traditional orchestral instruments and contemporary beats. The use of rap and hip-hop elements adds a modern twist to the historical subject matter, making it feel fresh and relevant. The song’s chorus is particularly memorable, featuring a powerful call-and-response between Miranda and the ensemble cast.
Overall, “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” is a thrilling and unforgettable musical number that captures the drama and excitement of one of the most important moments in American history. It is a testament to the power of music to bring history to life and to make it accessible to a new generation of listeners.
3. “Carry Me Back To Old Virginny” Written By James A. Bland
“Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” is a classic American song written by James A. Bland in 1878. It is a nostalgic ode to the state of Virginia, with lyrics that depict the singer’s longing to return to the state where they were born and raised. The song’s opening line, “Carry me back to old Virginny,” immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece, which is filled with references to the state’s natural beauty, rich history, and cherished memories.
The song’s melody is slow and somber, with a simple, repetitive structure that emphasizes the wistful, mournful quality of the lyrics. It has been recorded by countless artists over the years, ranging from traditional folk singers to modern-day pop stars. Some of the most notable renditions of the song include those by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Nat King Cole.
Despite its popularity, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” has also been the subject of controversy in recent years due to its racially charged lyrics. In the original version of the song, Bland wrote about “darkies” and “massas,” perpetuating harmful stereotypes and romanticizing the antebellum South. As a result, some artists and organizations have chosen to alter or retire the song altogether in an effort to promote more inclusive and respectful cultural representation.
Overall, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” remains a beloved piece of American musical history, with a haunting melody and lyrics that evoke a sense of longing for a simpler time and place.
4. “James River Blues” By Old Crow Medicine Show
“James River Blues” is a folk/country song by Old Crow Medicine Show that tells the story of a man who has been forced to leave his home in Virginia due to hard times and economic hardship. The song’s melody is upbeat and lively, with a driving rhythm that captures the energy and resilience of the song’s protagonist.
The lyrics are filled with references to the landscape and culture of Virginia, with the James River serving as a central symbol of the protagonist’s connection to his homeland. The song’s chorus, which repeats the line “Oh James River, stay the hell where you belong,” speaks to the protagonist’s ambivalent feelings about his departure and his yearning to return to the place he loves.
Despite its upbeat tempo, “James River Blues” is a poignant and reflective song that captures the challenges and sacrifices that many Americans have faced in the pursuit of a better life. It has been covered by numerous artists in a variety of styles, and has become a staple of Old Crow Medicine Show’s live performances.
Overall, “James River Blues” is a testament to the power of music to capture the spirit of a place and a people, and to provide comfort and inspiration to those facing difficult times. Its lively melody and heartfelt lyrics make it a beloved classic of the Americana genre, and a testament to the enduring legacy of Virginia’s rich musical tradition.
5. “Sweet Virginia Breeze” By The Robbin Thompson Band
“Sweet Virginia Breeze” is a classic rock song by The Robbin Thompson Band that celebrates the beauty and culture of the state of Virginia. The song’s melody is upbeat and catchy, with a driving rhythm and infectious guitar riffs that capture the energy and vitality of the state and its people.
The lyrics are filled with references to Virginia’s natural wonders, including its rolling hills, sparkling waters, and lush forests. They also speak to the state’s rich musical heritage, with nods to famous Virginia musicians like Patsy Cline and the Carter Family.
At its heart, “Sweet Virginia Breeze” is a tribute to the spirit of community and resilience that defines Virginia and its people. The song’s chorus, which repeats the line “Sweet Virginia Breeze, keeps me alive and well,” speaks to the enduring power of the state’s culture and landscape to inspire and uplift those who call it home.
With its infectious melody and heartfelt lyrics, “Sweet Virginia Breeze” has become an enduring classic of the Virginia rock scene, and a testament to the enduring spirit of the state and its people.
6. “Our Great Virginia” By Mike Greenly
“Our Great Virginia” is a patriotic anthem by Mike Greenly that celebrates the history, culture, and spirit of the state of Virginia. The song’s melody is stirring and uplifting, with soaring vocals and triumphant brass that capture the majesty and grandeur of Virginia and its people.
The lyrics pay tribute to the state’s role in American history, with references to famous Virginians like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as well as to the state’s natural beauty and cultural landmarks. The chorus, which repeats the line “Our Great Virginia, our pride and joy,” speaks to the deep sense of pride and attachment that Virginians feel for their home state.
At its core, “Our Great Virginia” is a call to unity and shared purpose, urging Virginians to come together to build a better future for themselves and their communities. With its powerful message and stirring melody, the song has become a beloved anthem of the Virginia community, and a testament to the enduring spirit of the state and its people.
7. “I Went Down To Virginia” By Frank Sinatra
“I Went Down To Virginia” is a classic swing song by Frank Sinatra that tells the story of a man who travels to Virginia in search of adventure and romance. The song’s melody is lively and upbeat, with a catchy rhythm and jaunty horns that capture the excitement and anticipation of the protagonist’s journey.
The lyrics are filled with references to Virginia’s landmarks and culture, including its rolling hills, blue skies, and bustling cities. They also speak to the protagonist’s longing for connection and companionship, with references to his search for a “sweetheart” and a place to call home.
Despite its light-hearted tone, “I Went Down To Virginia” is a poignant and reflective song that speaks to the universal human desire for love, companionship, and adventure. With its infectious melody and clever lyrics, the song has become a beloved classic of the swing era, and a testament to the enduring appeal of Frank Sinatra’s music.
8. “Virginia” By Clipse
“Virginia” is a hip-hop song by Clipse that explores the gritty reality of life in Virginia’s urban centers. The song’s beat is dark and brooding, with a menacing bassline and distorted samples that create a sense of tension and foreboding.
The lyrics are filled with references to Virginia’s drug culture, with vivid descriptions of drug deals, violence, and addiction. They also speak to the sense of hopelessness and desperation that can arise from life on the margins, with lines like “it’s hard to make a living when nobody’s hiring.”
Despite its bleak subject matter, “Virginia” is a powerful and thought-provoking song that shines a light on the harsh realities of life for many Virginians. It is a reminder that, while Virginia is known for its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, it is also home to communities that face significant social and economic challenges. With its uncompromising lyrics and haunting melody, “Virginia” has become a classic of the Virginia hip-hop scene, and a testament to the genre’s ability to speak truth to power.
9. “Clinch Mountain Backstep” By Ralph Stanley
“Clinch Mountain Backstep” is a classic bluegrass instrumental by Ralph Stanley that showcases the virtuosic picking and high-energy rhythms that define the genre. The song’s melody is fast-paced and frenetic, with lightning-fast banjo runs and soaring fiddle lines that create a sense of urgency and excitement.
The title of the song refers to Clinch Mountain, a prominent range in southwestern Virginia that has long been a hub of bluegrass and old-time music. The song’s driving rhythms and intricate melodies pay tribute to the region’s rich musical heritage, and to the innovative spirit of musicians like Ralph Stanley who have pushed the genre forward.
Despite its lack of lyrics, “Clinch Mountain Backstep” is a powerful and evocative song that captures the spirit of the bluegrass tradition. Its complex harmonies and lightning-fast picking have made it a favorite among musicians and fans alike, and a testament to the enduring appeal of the bluegrass sound.
10. “Virginia Moon” By Foo Fighters
“Virginia Moon” is a dreamy and romantic song by the Foo Fighters that features a collaboration with jazz singer Norah Jones. The song’s melody is mellow and atmospheric, with gentle acoustic guitar and piano that create a sense of intimacy and introspection.
The lyrics tell the story of a couple in love who find solace and companionship under the Virginia moon. They speak to the power of love to heal and transform, with lines like “I’m lost without you, can’t help myself how does it feel to know that I love you baby?”.
The collaboration with Norah Jones adds an extra layer of depth and sophistication to the song, with her sultry vocals and jazzy inflections adding a touch of elegance and refinement to the Foo Fighters’ rock sound.
Overall, “Virginia Moon” is a beautiful and heartfelt song that speaks to the enduring power of love and the transformative potential of human connection. Its gentle melodies and poignant lyrics have made it a favorite among fans of both rock and jazz, and a testament to the Foo Fighters’ ability to create music that resonates deeply with listeners.