Table of Contents
- 1. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver
- 2. “Charleston Girl” by Tyler Childers
- 3. “16 Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford
- 4. “Remember” by Mac Miller
- 5. “Union, God, and Country” by Steve Earle
- 6. “Morning Morgantown” by Joni Mitchell
- 7. “Come Home to West Virginia” by Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.
- 8. “West Virginia My Home” by Hazel Dickens
- 9. “Last Public Hanging in West Virginia” by Flatt & Scruggs
- 10. “Jamboree Jones” by Johnny Mercer
West Virginia, the Mountain State, has a rich history and culture that has inspired countless musicians and songwriters over the years. From bluegrass and country to rock and pop, West Virginia has been the subject of countless songs and ballads, each capturing the spirit and soul of this rugged and beautiful region.
In this article, we will explore ten of the best songs about West Virginia, each of which showcases the unique beauty and character of this storied state. These songs range from traditional Appalachian ballads to modern pop anthems, and each offers a glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry of West Virginia.
Whether you’re a longtime resident of the state or simply a lover of American music and culture, these songs are sure to inspire and uplift you. So sit back, relax, and let the music transport you to the heart of West Virginia, where the hills are alive with the sound of music and the spirit of the people is as strong and resilient as the mountains themselves.
1. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a classic country-folk song written by John Denver, Bill Danoff, and Taffy Nivert. The song was released in 1971 and quickly became a hit, reaching the top ten on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.
The song’s gentle melody, backed by acoustic guitar and soft harmonies, creates a nostalgic and wistful mood. The lyrics describe the longing of a traveler to return to the simple and familiar surroundings of their childhood home in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.
The song’s opening lines, “Almost heaven, West Virginia / Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River,” evoke the beauty and serenity of the region, while the chorus’s repeated refrain of “Take me home, country roads” expresses the singer’s desire to be reunited with the place and people they hold dear.
Denver’s clear and earnest vocals, coupled with the song’s vivid imagery and memorable melody, make “Take Me Home, Country Roads” a timeless classic that continues to resonate with listeners today. It has been covered by countless artists and has been featured in several movies and TV shows, cementing its place in the pantheon of American folk music.
2. “Charleston Girl” by Tyler Childers
“Charleston Girl” is a heartfelt and soulful song by Tyler Childers, a country-folk singer-songwriter from Kentucky. The song is a tribute to a girl from Charleston, West Virginia, who has captured the singer’s heart.
The song begins with a gentle acoustic guitar melody that gradually builds in intensity as Childers’ soulful voice takes center stage. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of the titular girl, describing her beauty, grace, and charm. The singer’s admiration for her is palpable, and his longing for her is expressed in lines like “I can’t keep her out of my mind / I dream about her all the time.”
The song’s chorus is an anthemic declaration of the singer’s devotion to the Charleston girl, with Childers singing, “She’s a Charleston girl, and she’s got my heart / And I’ll love her till the day I die.” The melody and lyrics blend together to create a powerful emotional impact that is sure to resonate with listeners.
“Charleston Girl” is a standout track on Childers’ critically acclaimed album, “Purgatory,” and showcases his unique brand of country-folk that is both deeply personal and universally relatable. The song’s raw and authentic sound, coupled with its poignant lyrics, make it a standout in the contemporary country-folk genre.
3. “16 Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford
“16 Tons” is a classic American folk song that was popularized by Tennessee Ernie Ford in the 1950s. The song’s memorable chorus, “You load sixteen tons, what do you get? / Another day older and deeper in debt,” became a cultural touchstone and a symbol of the struggles faced by working-class Americans during that era.
The song’s slow and mournful melody is accompanied by a simple but powerful guitar riff and Ford’s distinctive, gravelly voice. The lyrics describe the grueling and backbreaking work of coal miners, who are trapped in a cycle of endless labor and poverty. The song’s chorus serves as a poignant reminder of the human toll of such work, and the futility of struggling to make ends meet in a system that seems rigged against them.
Despite its dark subject matter, “16 Tons” has become an enduring classic and a cultural touchstone. It has been covered by numerous artists and has been featured in films, TV shows, and commercials, cementing its place in the American musical canon. The song’s resonance with listeners continues to this day, as it speaks to the enduring struggle for economic justice and the dignity of work.
4. “Remember” by Mac Miller
“Remember” is a poignant and introspective song by Mac Miller, the late rapper and musician from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The song was released posthumously in 2018, following Miller’s tragic death at the age of 26.
The song’s somber melody is driven by a simple piano riff, which is accompanied by Miller’s introspective lyrics and distinctive, laid-back flow. The song explores themes of mortality, legacy, and the nature of artistic creation, as Miller reflects on his own life and legacy.
The chorus, “Remember all the times we had? / Remember all the days we could’ve had? / Remember every single kiss and hug? / Remember all the shit that we was lost?” serves as a powerful reminder of the impermanence of life and the importance of cherishing the moments we have with those we love.
“Remember” is a poignant and deeply personal song that showcases Miller’s prodigious talent and his ability to connect with listeners on a deeply emotional level. The song’s themes of loss and remembrance, combined with Miller’s introspective lyrics and understated delivery, make it a standout in the world of contemporary hip-hop.
5. “Union, God, and Country” by Steve Earle
“Union, God, and Country” is a powerful and politically charged song by Steve Earle, the influential country-rock musician and activist. The song was released in 2002, during a time of heightened political tension and division in the United States.
The song’s driving guitar riff and pounding drums create a sense of urgency and intensity, which is matched by Earle’s fierce and unapologetic lyrics. The song is a scathing critique of the Bush administration and its policies, particularly the war in Iraq and the erosion of civil liberties at home.
The song’s chorus, “Union, God, and Country / We ain’t sure just what it means / But we know it ain’t our power / That’s bound to feed the machine,” is a biting commentary on the use of patriotic rhetoric to justify political and economic power.
“Union, God, and Country” is a rallying cry for political and social change, and a testament to Earle’s commitment to using music as a means of speaking truth to power. The song’s raw and unflinching critique of American politics and culture, combined with Earle’s fiery delivery and musical prowess, make it a standout in the world of contemporary protest music.
6. “Morning Morgantown” by Joni Mitchell
“Morning Morgantown” is a gentle and wistful folk song by Joni Mitchell, the acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter. The song was released in 1970 on Mitchell’s third studio album, “Ladies of the Canyon.”
The song’s lilting melody and Mitchell’s soft, soaring vocals create a sense of serenity and contemplation, as she reflects on the simple pleasures of life in a small town. The lyrics describe the beauty of the natural world, as well as the sense of community and connection that can be found in a close-knit community.
The chorus, “Good morning Morgantown / Waking up to another day / This little town keeps draggin’ me down / But I won’t run away,” is a testament to Mitchell’s resilience and determination, as she finds beauty and meaning in even the most mundane aspects of everyday life.
“Morning Morgantown” is a beautifully crafted song that showcases Mitchell’s unique talent for blending poetic lyrics with intricate guitar arrangements and lush vocal harmonies. The song’s evocative imagery and wistful tone make it a standout in Mitchell’s extensive catalog of folk classics.
7. “Come Home to West Virginia” by Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.
“Come Home to West Virginia” is a heartfelt and patriotic song by Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., an American jazz singer and winner of the sixth season of “America’s Got Talent.” The song was released in 2016 and pays tribute to Murphy’s home state of West Virginia.
The song’s soaring melody and Murphy’s smooth, soulful vocals create a sense of pride and longing for the beauty and cultural richness of the state. The lyrics celebrate the state’s natural wonders, such as the Appalachian Mountains and the New River Gorge, as well as the warmth and resilience of its people.
The chorus, “Come home to West Virginia / Where the mountains and the rivers meet / Come home to West Virginia / Where the heart and the soul find peace,” is a call to those who have left the state to return and rediscover the beauty and sense of community that it offers.
“Come Home to West Virginia” is a beautifully crafted song that showcases Murphy’s vocal range and his deep love for his home state. The song’s themes of homecoming and cultural pride make it a standout in the world of contemporary country and jazz music, and a testament to the enduring beauty and strength of West Virginia.
8. “West Virginia My Home” by Hazel Dickens
“West Virginia My Home” is a poignant and deeply personal song by Hazel Dickens, the legendary American bluegrass and folk singer-songwriter. The song was released in 1965 and has since become a classic in the world of traditional Appalachian music.
The song’s simple melody and Dickens’ raw, emotive vocals create a sense of longing and nostalgia for the rugged and beautiful terrain of West Virginia, where Dickens was born and raised. The lyrics describe the natural beauty of the state, as well as the struggles and hardships of its working-class people.
The chorus, “West Virginia, oh my home / West Virginia, where I belong / In the dead of the night, in the still and the quiet / I slip away like a bird in flight,” is a testament to the enduring power of home and the connection between people and the land.
“West Virginia My Home” is a powerful and deeply personal song that showcases Dickens’ unique ability to capture the spirit and soul of the Appalachian region. The song’s themes of home, identity, and connection to the natural world make it a standout in the world of American folk music, and a testament to the enduring legacy of Appalachian culture.
9. “Last Public Hanging in West Virginia” by Flatt & Scruggs
“Last Public Hanging in West Virginia” is a haunting and evocative bluegrass song by the legendary American duo, Flatt and Scruggs. The song was released in 1961 and tells the true story of the last public execution in the state of West Virginia, which took place in 1897.
The song’s mournful melody and Scruggs’ driving banjo create a sense of foreboding and tragedy, as the lyrics describe the brutal hanging of a man named John Hardy, who had been convicted of murder. The song’s lyrics are based on actual newspaper accounts of the event and convey the sense of shock and horror that gripped the small town where the execution took place.
The chorus, “John Hardy was a desperate little man / Carried two guns every day / He shot a man on the West Virginia line / And you oughta seen John Hardy getting away,” is a reminder of the brutal and unforgiving nature of life in the Appalachian region, where violence and justice often went hand in hand.
“Last Public Hanging in West Virginia” is a powerful and haunting song that showcases Flatt and Scruggs’ unique ability to capture the essence of traditional Appalachian music. The song’s themes of justice, tragedy, and the harsh realities of life in the region make it a standout in the world of American roots music.
10. “Jamboree Jones” by Johnny Mercer
“Jamboree Jones” is a cheerful and upbeat swing song by Johnny Mercer, the legendary American lyricist, singer, and composer. The song was released in 1942 and quickly became a hit, with its catchy melody and playful lyrics.
The song’s lively tempo and Mercer’s smooth vocals create a sense of joy and excitement, as the lyrics describe the fun and frivolity of a country jamboree. The song’s lyrics celebrate the joy of dancing and socializing, and the carefree spirit of rural life.
The chorus, “Jamboree Jones, play that fiddle / Jamboree Jones, make it twiddle / Jamboree Jones, take your bow / Jamboree Jones, make it now,” is a playful invitation to the jamboree band to keep the party going and the music flowing.
“Jamboree Jones” is a fun and lighthearted song that showcases Mercer’s talent for crafting memorable and catchy lyrics. The song’s themes of music, dancing, and community make it a standout in the world of swing and big band music, and a testament to the enduring popularity of traditional American folk culture.