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

A rustle of corn and the cacophony of cattle is not the only sound coming from the state of Iowa. From the Missouri to the Mississippi Rivers, over the gently rolling hills and across the flat plains, the sounds of the Hawkeye State abound.

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

1. “Skin Ticket” – Slipknot

Slipknot and the state of Iowa have become somewhat synonymous throughout their long-running metal stardom. Des Moines natives Shawn Crahan, Joey Jordison, and Paul Gray had been running in similar circles in the city’s heavy metal scene when they eventually formed the masked metal band, Slipknot. Their sophomore studio album was even name after the state.

2. “No Scrubs” – TLC

Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, one-third of the pop-R&B group, TLC, was born in Des Moines. While she moved out of Iowa at the age of nine, there’s no way some of that Hawkeye State magic didn’t rub off on the soon-to-be hip-hop sensation.

3. “The Drycleaner From Des Moines” – Joni Mitchell

I talked to a cat from Des Moines / He said he ran a cleaning plant / That cat was clanking with coin / Well he must have had a genie in a lamp / ‘Cause every time I dropped a dime I blew it / He kept ringing bells / Nothing to it!

“The Drycleaner From Des Moines” is a sleeper hit with its shuffling jazz riffs and Joni Mitchell’s sultry slinking vocals. A song about just that, a dry cleaner from Des Moines, tells the tale of a man with nothing but luck. Maybe him being from Iowa has something to do with it…

Playlist for Iowa

“It Sure Can Get Cold In Des Moines” – Tom T. Hall

“Fireflies” – Owl City

“Chattanooga Choo Choo” – Glenn Miller

“Skin Ticket” – Slipknot

“Stranded In Iowa” – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

“Soulsides” – Art Farmer

“Smoke on the Water” – Deep Purple

“Iowa Corn Song” – Percy Faith

“We Are Young” – Fun.

“The Drycleaner From Des Moines” – Joni Mitchell

“Say It Ain’t So” – Weezer

“No Scrubs” – TLC

“The Iowa Song” – Josh Connor 

“Coming Up Close” – ‘Til Tuesday

(Photo by Gettyimages.com)

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