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

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

“By the Time I Get to Phoenix” is a mournful country song 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.

Webb 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 No. 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. Co-writer 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

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

The song is a criticism of 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Frontman Chuck D wrote the songs after Arizona Governor Evan Mecham repealed Martin Luther King Jr.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 Governer 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 leave may 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 No. 1 in Canada and the United States in 1987.

5. “Arizona” by Kings of Leon

Released on Kings of Leon’s 2007 album Because Of The Times, “Arizona” is a slow alternative rock song about a girl in Arizona.

Inspired by a trip to the state Nathan and Caleb Followill had to a brothel tucked away in the desert. The song is largely about one sex worker they saw in this brothel. They felt ashamed and heartbroken to see the brothel 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’ 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’ grandfather was a Texas Ranger and would tell Robbins 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

“There Is No Arizona” is a country song that 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 No. 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

“Arizona Skies” is an invigorating instrumental song that perfectly encapsulates the state.

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.

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 took place 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, aka 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

“Phoner to Arizona” is a very interesting electronic song that is purely instrumental. 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 are 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 Arizona very choppily cut together, creating a unique music experience that takes you to Arizona without needing a single word.

Summing Up Our List 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.

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

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Written by Laura Macmillan
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.