10 Of The Best Songs About Arizona: Grand Canyon State Playlist

Written by Laura Macmillan
Last updated

There is no mistaking that Arizona is a truly unique and beautiful state. With its vast desert landscapes and iconic Grand Canyon National Park, it’s no wonder that so many musicians have written songs about it.

Whether you grew up in Phoenix or Flagstaff, these tunes will have you singing along and reminiscing about your time spent in the Grand Canyon State. If you’re ever feeling homesick for Arizona, or just want to listen to some great music about the Copper State, we’ve got you covered.

So put on your cowboy boots and grab a cold one as we look at 10 of the best songs about Arizona. Let’s get started.

1. “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” By Glen Campbell

mournful country song “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” is about Phoenix, Arizona. The song was originally written by Jimmy Webb and recorded by Johnny Rivers in 1965 before being popularized by Glen Campbell two years later.

Webb wrote the song about a breakup when he was 21. The lyrics are intentionally unrealistic, citing absurd drives to faraway cities. He intended this as a metaphor for having unrealistic expectations at the end of a relationship.

Campbell’s “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles and won two Grammy Awards.

2. “Take It Easy” By Eagles

One of the Eagles’ signature songs, “Take It Easy,” is about not growing up too fast. Cowriter Jackson Browne originally started writing it for his solo album, but he later asked for help from Eagles’ frontman Glenn Frey.

The Eagles performed the song four times per night at a Colorado nightclub for about a year before recording it. After so many performances, the song gradually evolved into the country-style number we know today.

The first line distinctly mentions Winslow, Arizona, which boomed in popularity due to this song. In 2016, a statue of Glenn Frey was placed on a corner in Winslow in his honor.

3. “By The Time I Get To Arizona” By Public Enemy

Written to protest Arizona in the early ’90s, “By the Time I Get to Arizona” is a political hip-hop song by Public Enemy.

The song is a criticism on racism, saying that pretending to be nice and smiling doesn’t make up for them not being free. It’s been described as one of the greatest hip-hop songs in history.

Frontman Chuck D. wrote the songs after Arizona Governor Evan Mecham repealed Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday.

The music video opens with archive footage of Governor Mecham stating he will oppose the holiday “as long as [he is] alive.” The video controversy ended with Public Enemy tracking down the governor.

4. “Ocean Front Property” By George Strait

So many breakups leave you crushed and alone, while other breakups may leave you excited for the future. “Ocean Front Property” is a country song mostly about the latter. 

In this song, the singer boasts about getting a new property by the ocean in Arizona as they leave their ex-love in the dust. The song cleverly has themes of sadness and remorse hidden between the lines, despite the optimistic attitude.

It was written by Dean Dillon, Royce Porter, and Hank Cochran before being recorded by George Strait. The song reached #1 in Canada and the United States in 1987.

5. “Arizona” By Kings Of Leon

In 2007, the Kings Of Leon released “Arizona” in their album Because Of The Times. It is a slow alternative rock song about a girl in Copper State.

Inspired by a trip to the state, Nathan and Caleb Followill had a quick trip to a brothel tucked away in the desert.

The song is largely about one female worker they saw in this brothel. They felt ashamed and heartbroken to see the place in person and left.

It’s a very complicated song about this woman, going back and forth between feeling awful for her and admitting how much they may like her.

6. “Big Iron” By Marty Robbins

Released on Marty Robbins’s Old West–themed album Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs, “Big Iron” tells the story of a fatal duel in Agua Fria, Arizona.

Texas Red, a young and notorious outlaw, is confronted by a heroic Arizona Ranger. Despite Texas Red’s reputation and the townspeople’s worries, the ranger leaves Agua Fria victorious.

Robbins’s grandfather was a Texas Ranger and would tell our singer countless tales about his job when he was a child. Many of the stories from Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs are based on his grandfather’s stories.

7. “There Is No Arizona” By Jamie O’Neal

Country song “There Is No Arizona” depicts the state of Arizona as an unreachable dream.

The story follows a couple going long-distance after he moves to Arizona. He promises he’ll call for her to join him after he gets things settled down, but all she ever gets from him is a postcard missing a return address.

It was released on Australian singer Jamie O’Neal’s debut album Shiver. The song reached #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks.

O’Neal got the idea for the title “There Is No Arizona” from the Stephen King movie Dolores Claiborne.

8. “Arizona Skies” By Los Lobos

If you want to listen to a song that perfectly encapsulates Arizona, the invigorating instrumental song “Arizona Skies” is it.

The song was released on country-rock group Los Lobos’s sixth album Kiko. This experimental album performed better than any other Los Lobos album prior.

It features prominent light strings by David Hidalgo, Conrad Lozano, and Cesar Rosas over rhythmic drums played by Pete Thomas.

The song evokes the feeling of relaxing in a warm paradise and staring up at beautiful, rolling skies the Grand Canyon State is known for.

9. “The Ballad Of Boot Hill” By Johnny Cash

Released on the EP Johnny Cash Sings ‘The Rebel —Johnny Yuma,’ “The Ballad Of Boot Hill” tells the true story of a gunfight in Arizona in 1881.

The real-life 30-second shootout occurred between Doc Holliday with a few lawmen and three gunmen from the Cowboys, a group of notorious outlaws.

“The Ballad Of Boot Hill” was written by Carl Perkins, a.k.a. the King of Rockabilly. The song was first released in 1959 and re-released on many other albums and EPs through 1992.

It’s also been covered by other country artists such as Billy McFarland, Johnny Western, and Jeff Johnson.

10. “Phoner To Arizona” By Gorillaz

Last on our list of Copper State songs is “Phoner To Arizona,” a very interesting, purely instrumental electronic piece.

It was released on the English band Gorillaz’s album The Fall, which featured various instrumental tracks inspired by numerous stops on the American leg of their World Tour.

Every song in The Fall was written and recorded in the locations they were based on. “Phoner To Arizona” was recorded entirely on an iPad.

The music video features a compilation of photos and videos the band took in the state very choppily cut together, creating a unique music experience that takes you to the Grand Canyon State without needing a single word.

Summing Up Our Playlist Of Arizona Songs

Many songs about Arizona tend to have similar themes: relax, don’t take life too fast, fight for what you love, do what makes you happy, and don’t start a shootout with the law. Regardless of the theme, they’re all worth the listen.

What songs about Arizona do you think best captures the state? Which songs about Arizona did we miss? 

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.