Take a Trip Through the States with Songs for Georgia—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: Georgia

If you thought the greatest thing out of Georgia was the peach, think again. From the valleys of the Appalachian and the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the coastal plains and back again, every mile of the state has bred more legends and nurtured more hits than most.

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

1. “Georgia on My Mind” – Ray Charles

It was Ray Charles who made the 1930s standard, “Georgia On My Mind,” famous, a tune that would become the official state song thanks to the legendary artist’s version. Albany-born Charles spent his early years in the state and came back often to perform.

Before a performance in 1961, he reportedly refused to perform in front of a segregated audience and was sued by the promoter for his stance. While he regularly returned to his home state to perform throughout the next decade, it wasn’t until 1979 that the state issued a formal apology to the musician and adopted his classic tune as their own.

2. “Hey Ya!” – Outkast

The hip-hop duo Outkast formed in Atlanta in the 1990s. With their intricate soul-minded, funk-infused style, the pair—André “3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton—helped popularize Southern hip hop and make Atlanta the epicenter of it all.

3. “Georgia” – Elton John

British musical legend Elton John has regularly referred to Atlanta as his American home, having been a part-time resident of the swanky Buckhead neighborhood since the 1990s.

He bid adieu to the state on his farewell tour this year, but not before telling the crowd, “You might see me walking around the streets in Atlanta because I’m not going anywhere. I’ve lived here for 30 years, and I’ve loved every single minute. So I will take you with me in my heart, in my soul, and I’ll never forget you.”

Playlist for Georgia

“Georgia on My Mind” – Ray Charles

“Prove It on Me Blues” – Ma Rainey

“Ramblin’ Man” – The Allman Brothers

“Tutti Frutti” – Little Richard

“Midnight Train to Georgia” – Gladys Knight & The Pips

“Hey Ya!” – Outkast

“Georgia” – Elton John

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” – Reba McEntire

“Country Girl” – Luke Bryan

“Highway 20 Ride” – Zac Brown

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – The Charlie Daniels Band

“The Moon Over Georgia” – Shenandoah

“Losing My Religion” – R.E.M.

“(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” – Otis Redding

“Watermelon Crawl” – Tracy Byrd

“Bad and Boujee” – Migos

“Chattahoochee” – Alan Jackson

“Sweet Augusta Darlin’” – Vince Gill

“I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train” – Billy Joe Shaver

“Georgia Peaches” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

“House Party” – Sam Hunt

“Walkin’ Back to Georgia” – Jim Croce

“Oh, Atlanta” – Little Feat

“Love Shack” – The B52’s

“Cedartown, Georgia” – Waylon Jennings

“Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” – Billy Currington

“Why Georgia” – John Mayer

Photo by Gettyimages.com

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