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Idaho is commonly known as the Gem State. It is home to almost 72 different types of precious stones. However, its biggest gem is its nature, with many beautiful bodies of water. That’s why the state’s name is derived from a Native American word that means “land of many waters.”
There are many more notable things about Idaho that are often overlooked, but one of the quickest and most engaging ways to learn about these hidden treasures is through music. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of 10 songs about Idaho.
10 Songs About Idaho
1. “Here We Have Idaho”
“And here we have Idaho
Winning her way to fame
Silver and gold in the sunlight blaze
and romance lies in her name.”
This is the official state song of Idaho. A fun fact is that two University of Idaho students used the music for a song contest entry in 1917. Known as “Our Idaho,” the winning entry became the unofficial anthem of the University of Idaho.
Later, two verses were added to the song, and the title was changed before it became the official state song.
It’s a perfect fit for the state, as it mentions the beautiful aspects of Idaho nature, such as the beautiful valleys and majestic forests. The lines “silver and gold” also allude to the many gems found in this Gem State.
2. “The Boise Song” by Jewel
“There´s river rafting in Boise, there’s Hyde Park in Boise
And a botanical garden in Boise, and an old prison in Boise
Lots to do in Boise, lot to see in Boise
But there’s no Z in Boise.”
In the summer of 2010, Jewel performed at Outlaw Field in Boise and won over the crowd with a song she’d written called “The Boise Song,” despite a few false starts.
The song points out how the name of the capital city of Idaho is spelled in a comedic way, with each verse concluding with the phrase “But there is no Z in Boise.”
The song goes on to mention the different things you can find in this city. There are different parks, activities like rafting, and many more… But you’ll never find a Z in Boise.
3. “Idaho” by Josh Ritter
“Til that single word you wrote
The single word, it landlocked me
Turned the masts to cedar trees
And the wind to gravel roads
Idaho, oh, Idaho.”
The first time you hear this song, you can’t help but stop and take it all in. It’s a powerful piece, mainly because it so accurately depicts Idaho.
It can be interpreted in two ways. Either the narrator has been away from Idaho for too long and misses the beauty and simplicity of the state, or he left the girl he loved in Idaho and still misses her.
Regardless of the interpretation, with this song’s clean and simple sound, the lyrics stand out even more than they would if it were just a poem.
4. “Idaho” by Delta Spirits
“Yeah, we’ll hang low
Like they do it out in Idaho
Don’t run, we roll
As we’re calling up the radio.”
This song’s message is a little more esoteric. Delta Spirit is being called back to Idaho. However, even though freedom is calling him home, it won’t sway him. When it comes to “Idaho,” the performer from Delta Spirit will never come back.
This song about Idaho is great for when you’re embarking on a long road trip and are about to cross state lines. The varied tempo is sure to keep you on your feet, too.
5. “Private Idaho” by the B-52s
“You’re livin’ in your own Private Idaho, Idaho
You’re out of control, the rivers that roll
You fell into the water and down to Idaho
Get out of that state.”
Using Idaho as a metaphor for paranoia, the lyrics “get out of that state” refer to escaping one’s own thoughts. Idaho was taken as the title because the band found Idaho a bit of a mystery. Despite its natural beauty, the band was aware of the presence of extreme right-wingers and other undesirable elements in this state.
The line, “swimming ‘round and ‘round like the deadly hand of a radium clock,” has an interesting historical context. Radioactive radium was used in the 1920s to paint the dials of glow-in-the-dark watches.
Brushes were held in the mouths of the women who painted with the element. This resulted in a high cancer rate and a settlement for the workers in a 1928 lawsuit.
6. “Idaho” by Train
“Texas, are you my friend, cause I’m afraid of you
Hey Maine, hey, you’re a little too high for me
And Fla, you’re just a little too low
D.C., you could be the end of me
I think I’m movin’ to Idaho
I ain’t afraid of you.”
Idaho is a haven for those seeking tranquility and respite from the outside world. Since most people see Idaho as anything but a potato state, the singer has no reason to be afraid.
He doesn’t want to live in a crowded city. The narrator prefers a quiet life. But even though he longs to be there, he knows he can’t abandon his current plans.
7. “Idaho” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
“Idaho, lovely Idaho
Daisies on the grass
The cows and you
Idaho, lovely Idaho
Playing pick-up sticks
Santa Claus, apple sauce.”
The band expresses their love for Idaho in this song. They mention all the things that they admire and associate with this state. Through these lyrics, the narrator also expresses his love for a girl in Idaho. The catchy beat makes it perfect for a road trip.
8. “Idaho” by Down Like Silver
“Where can we go from here?
Where can we go?
We keep trying to get back
In “Idaho,” the singer expresses the same yearning to be back in her native state. The singer begins the song by describing a tense relationship. Before asking where she should go next, she tries to determine what’s wrong and why exactly it’s happening.
She simultaneously reflects on the future of her relationship and her own physical location.
It’s clear to her where she needs to be. Idaho isn’t often referred to as a place to get away from it all or a vacation spot. However, the song “Down Like Silver” proves that a sense of peace can be associated with Idaho no matter where you are or who you’re with.
9. “Meet Me in McCall” by Brenn Hill
“Then meet me in McCall
And make it early fall
Bring a good horse and a rifle and that’s all
We’ll ride the golden aspen trail
‘Neath timber dark and tall
So meet me in McCall
In the early fall.”
The singer includes some of his personal family history in this song. In 1996, a wood-cutting accident claimed the life of his uncle Ray. The song describes how his uncle visited him in a dream.
Of all places, they were in the mountains west of McCall in the dream, a place they had previously visited.
The singer expresses that he wishes that that dream had been the reality – that he could turn back time and spend some more time with his deceased uncle. He lists things he would do with him, like riding horses and hunting.
These activities are typical for natives of Idaho but memorable for the singer since they remind him of his loss.
10. “What’s Your Name” Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Well, its eight o’clock in Boise, Idaho
I’ll find my limo driver
Mister, take us to the show
I done made some plans for later on tonight
I’ll find a little queen
And I know I can treat her right.”
The lyrics are based on a true story about a band’s roadie getting into a fight in a hotel bar while the band was on tour. After being asked to leave the bar, the band ordered champagne to another room.
However, the incident did not take place in Boise, Idaho, as the song suggests. Instead, the lyric was altered when Van Zant learned that 38 Special was kicking off their first national tour in that city. As a fan of the band, he celebrated the start of their national tour in this way.
Final Thoughts on Songs About Idaho
Whether you’re planning to visit Idaho or you just want to know more about the state, these 10 songs about Idaho are a great start. Aside from being excellent road trip songs, they also portray Idaho’s beautiful nature and the love the locals have for the state.
Many of them even mention how people leaving Idaho often wish to come back. Feel free to click on each of the links to listen to the songs. They will make feel like you’re already in Idaho.