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When you think of Arizona, what image first springs to your mind? If you’re like most people, it’s probably the Grand Canyon. While the state is most famous for this natural wonder, Arizona has so many other things to offer. So, let’s go on a musical journey with these songs about Arizona because the best way to learn about a state is through the music it inspired.
11 Songs About Arizona
1. “Tucson Train” by Bruce Springsteen
“Come here lookin’ for a new life
One I wouldn’t have to explain
To that voice that keeps me awake at night
When a little peace would make everything right
If I could just turn off my brain
But now my baby’s coming in on the Tucson train.”
The narrator in the song is a tired construction worker who decides to leave San Francisco and move to sunny Arizona. Now, he is waiting for the Tucson train to visit his lady friend and show her that he has truly changed.
2. “Hey Willie” by Waylon Jennings
“Hey Willie let’s pack up and catch us a slow train
And go back to Phoenix to a far brighter day
Where stars were for shining in the Arizona sky
And music meant more than fortune or fame.”
The song is reminiscent of Waylon’s old friend and fellow country star, Willie Nelson. Waylon recalls simpler times when they still weren’t rich and famous. He wishes they could go back and enjoy the starry Arizona sky again.
3. “Arizona” by Rex Allen, Jr.
“I love you Arizona;
Desert dust on the wind;
The sage and cactus are blooming,
And the smell of the rain on your skin.”
The song includes poetic descriptions of Arizonian nature, like its harsh climate, mountains, deserts, streams, and scarce vegetation. The song was designated the Official State Centennial Song and the alternate state anthem in 1981.
4. “Surprise, AZ” by Richard Buckner
Put us out of our sweet misery.”
A newspaper story about a mother and son who died in a car accident in the small town of Surprise, Arizona, inspired this sad song. The tragic irony of life is heightened because their untimely deaths happened in Surprise.
5. “There Is No Arizona” by Jamie O’Neal
“There is no Arizona
No painted desert, no Sedona
If there was a Grand Canyon
She could fill it up with the lies he’s told her
But they don’t exist, those dreams he sold her
She’ll wake up and find
There is no Arizona.”
In the song, the man leaves his woman, goes to Arizona, and promises to return or send for her. The woman waited patiently for him until she received a postcard from Arizona with no return address. Finally, she realizes that her fantasy of living a better life with him in Arizona will never come true. Arizona, as she sees it, doesn’t exist.
6. “Get Your Kicks On (Route 66)” by Nat King Cole
“Now you go through St. Louis
And Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty
You see Amarillo
Gallup, New Mexico
Don’t forget Winona
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino”
The song describes the journey down historic Highway 66. As the narrator is going to California, he passes three locations in Arizona: Flagstaff, Kingman, and Winona.
7. “Ocean Front Property” by George Strait
“I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona
From my front porch, you can see the sea
I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona
If you’ll buy that, I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free.”
The narrator regrets breaking up with his sweetheart, so he tells her a few white lies, like that he doesn’t love her, he doesn’t miss her, etc. Then, he breaks his lying pattern by telling her he has some ocean-front property in Arizona, which is a blatant lie (since Arizona is landlocked). He hopes that she will realize that the first lies were actually true.
8. “Take It Easy” by Eagles
“Well, I’m a standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me
Come on, baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me
We may lose and we may win, though we will never be here again
So open up I’m climbin’ in, so take it easy”
Music fans have made the small town of Winslow, Arizona, a regular stop on their travels due to this song. Winslow is located on Route 40 in northern Arizona, allowing it to be an ideal stopping point for travelers heading from California to New Mexico.
9. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” by Glen Campbell
“By the time I get to Phoenix, she’ll be rising
She’ll find the note I left hanging on her door
She’ll laugh when she reads the part that says
I’m leaving ’cause I’ve left that girl so many times before.”
In this 1967 country song, the narrator is ending a love affair. He leaves her while she is sleeping and goes on a journey. It takes him through the southern part of the country toward Oklahoma. As he passes Phoenix, he thinks about how his ex must be handling the news.
10. “King of Arizona” by Clutch
“Swallow took the sun
From that bitter ground
And now we were heavy
With the burden of a crown.”
The song’s narrators are thought to be American Indians, the Kings of Arizona. Since there are at least 21 federally-recognized reservations, including the Navajo, Apache, and Hopi people, it is no wonder that this song is filled with American Indian symbolism.
11. “Painted Desert” by Pat Benatar
“Ya’ know that, this town’s like a painted desert
Dead heat, movin’ in the city
I’m lost in a painted desert
In a Painted Desert without you.”
In northern Arizona, the Painted Desert is a vast area of layers of beautifully colored sedimentary rocks, typically red and purple. The narrator uses the Painted Desert to express how lonely she feels when she isn’t with her significant other in the song.
Final Thoughts on Songs About Arizona
Through these 11 songs about Arizona, we’ve learned that there is much more to it than the Grand Canyon (although it is a magnificent place). It is a place where you can love, lose, and get your kicks.
Don’t forget to check out the links and videos of the songs so that you can experience them in their entirety.