Take a Trip Through the States with Songs for Alaska—America’s Songbook

Every state across the country has its own type of music that makes it what it is. In a multi-part series, American Songwriter will take a look at each of the 50 states and the music that emanates from each of the various and unique landscapes.

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Next stop: ALASKA

Alaska may not instantly come to mind as a sonic destination, but the state is first in variety, artistry, and musical ingenuity. Not one genre dominates the state as folk, rock, classical, opera, pop, and a variety of music from the region’s Indigenous communities mingle across the Last Frontier.

Making up America’s Songbook, here is a playlist of songs for Alaska about the state and by the statesmen.

1. “They Sing to Each Other (Version A)” – Pamyua

A Yup’ik band from Anchorage, Pamyua, preserves their culture through music while also combining other styles to create their distinct brand of self-described tribal funk and Inuit soul. They represent the diverse musical landscape of the region crafting a sound uniquely their own by celebrating their roots.

2. “Alaska and Me” – John Denver

Throughout his career, John Denver has become synonymous with the great outdoors, so it’s no surprise he has a song about Alaska … or three in his catalog.

Here’s to Alaska, here’s to the people / Here’s to the wild and here’s to the free / Here’s to my life in a chosen country / Here’s to Alaska and me, goes his ode to the state in the signature sweet Denver way.

3. “Who Will Save Your Soul”- Jewel

Raised on a homestead in the Alaskan wilderness, ’90s pop icon Jewel fondly said of her upbringing “We lived far from town. We had to walk 2 miles just to get to the saddle barn I was raised in… No running water, no heat—we had a coal stove and an outhouse and we mainly lived off of what we could kill or can. We picked berries and made jam. We caught fish to freeze and had gardens and cattle to live on. I rode horses every day in the summer beneath the Alaskan midnight sun. I loved it there.”

Playlist for Alaska

“Alaska and Me” – John Denver

“Stephanie Says” – Velvet Underground

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana (by way of guitarist Jason Everman)

“Road to Alaska” – Bee Gees

“Far Alaska” – Jethro Tull

“Melody” – Kate Earl

“Who Will Save Your Soul”- Jewel

“Alaska” – Dr. Dog

“They Sing to Each Other (Version A)” – Pamyua

“Fairbanks Alaska” – Joe Walsh

“Alaska Bloodline” – Joe and Bing

“Edge Of A Broken Heart” – Vixen

“North To Alaska” – Johnny Horton

“Feel It Still” – Portugal. The Man (John Gourley)

“Fairbanks, Alaska” – The Front Bottoms

“Alaska” – Maggie Rogers

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