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

Idaho is more than its potatoes. It is a land of unspoiled, untamed landscapes full of wonder, majesty, and echoing music. Idaho has been the birthplace of, home, and inspiration to innumerable sounds and song makers.

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

1. “Idaho” – Josh Ritter

From Moscow, Idaho, Josh Ritter’s narrative song telling with its vivid lyrics and distinct Americana style has cemented him forever in the singer-songwriter canon. Hushed and wide open, his songs are reminiscent of the landscape of his native Idaho.

2. “What’s Your Name” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Well, it’s eight o’clock in Boise, Idaho

“What’s Your Name” tells the story of something that actually happened to Lynyrd Skynyrd while on tour. The story goes, the band was drinking at a hotel bar where they had stopped for the night while on the road. It was there that one of their roadies got into a fight, forcing the group to get kicked out of the bar and take the party up to their rooms.

The event did happen, however not in Boise or even in Idaho. But it is the biggest hit to mention the state.

3. “Private Idaho” – B-52s

Livin’ in your own Private Idaho / Underground like a wild potato, goes the B-52s’ “Private Idaho.” As unusual, silly, and equally mysterious as the Athens, Georgia-formed band themselves, the song is an anomaly. The lyrics are wacky and nonsensical, but also ominous.

Band member Fred Schneider once explained to the Idaho Statesman, “Idaho is pretty mysterious to all of us. I know it’s a beautiful state, but then I know there’s also a lot of crazy right-wingers and all that stuff … The song’s about all different things. It’s not like a parody of Idaho or anything.”

Playlist for Idaho

“Private Idaho” – B-52s

“Twin Falls” – Built to Spill

“Idaho” – Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons

“What’s Your Name” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

“U Can’t Hold No Groove” – Victor Wooten

“Fall Back Down” – Rancid

“Idaho” – Josh Ritter

“All the Debts I Owe” – Caamp

“Starlight on the Rails” – Rosalie Sorrels

“Idaho” – Yonder Mountain String Band

“Idaho Pines” – Hot Buttered Rum

“Footsteps of a Fool” – Judy Lynn

“Idaho” – Afroman

“The Boise Song” – Jewel

“I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” – Paul Revere & the Raiders

“Idaho” – Train

Photo: Gettyimages.com

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