Sure, there are tons of songs about the Big Apple, but upon consideration, songs about Georgia seem to be everywhere. They appear in lots of different musical genres, and the overarching message of most of them is about longing for the place, to be back there, to return home to the Peach State.
Here are 25 songs about Georgia, from the state song to a fight song to a murder ballad and just about everything in between.
1. “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles
In 1930, “Georgia on My Mind” was a hit for writer and singer Hoagy Carmichael. However, it became a smash hit for Ray Charles when he released it as a single in 1960.
Since then, Ella Fitzgerald and Willie Nelson have recorded their seminal versions of the song.
Its passing reference to the Georgia pines and the peaceful life in the state quickly endeared the song to Georgians. The Georgia legislature voted to name “Georgia on My Mind” the state song in 1979.
2. “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips
Songwriter Jim Weatherly originally wrote and recorded this song as “Midnight Train to Houston,” saying he came by the inspiration from 1970s stars Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors telling him they needed to take a midnight plane to Houston.
Cissy Houston changed the destination to Georgia and recorded the song in 1973, and later that year, Gladys Knight and the Pips laid down the classic version most of us know today.
Knight attributed the song’s power to the events in her own life when she recorded it, mirroring those in the lyrics. It’s a song about a woman trying to decide the right thing to do— for her and him.
When the train leaves the station for Georgia, she’s still at the station, having made up her mind.
3. “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” by Reba McEntire
While you probably know this as a Reba McEntire song, it has a more storied history. Plus, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” bears a pretty cool label: murder ballad.
The song tells of infidelity, misunderstandings, murders, and an innocent man going to the gallows. It’s a real hoot.
Written by Bobby Russell, the song spent was at first refused by several artists. Russell’s wife, comedian Vicki Lawrence, decided to keep it for herself, confident it would be a hit. She was right.
She had a number one single with it in 1973, and then country superstar Reba McEntire recorded it in ‘91. Reba’s version only made it to number 12, but it’s had staying power, and now she’s the artist most associated with the song.
4. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band
Fiddler Charlie Daniels wrote “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” in just a couple of days, but the song drove his eponymous band to the top of both the country and pop charts (well, number three on the pop charts, which is nothing to sneeze at).
The song tells of a fiddling contest between fiddling phenom Johnny and the devil himself. The rules are that if Johnny wins, he gets a gold fiddle, but if he loses, the devil gets his soul. The devil goes first, making a lot of noise but not, if you listen closely, playing much of anything like music.
Then it’s Johnny’s turn. He gives a lights-out performance that’s so good, even the devil has to admit that he lost. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the song is that the devil actually kept his word.
5. “Meet in the Middle” by Diamond Rio
A life-long love story that starts with pre-teens sneaking out at night to meet each other, this megahit for Diamond Rio was a romantic piece that wasn’t schlocky. It’s fun and upbeat, and it showcased a new sound for Nashville in 1991.
The kids in the song live however far apart 700 fenceposts is, so they meet in the middle to canoodle under the Georgia pines.
When they later marry, that middle fencepost helps them remember the importance of compromise in any successful relationship.
6. “Sweet Georgia Brown” by Many Different Artists
Jazz musician Ben Bernie co-wrote the song, and while Georgia is a girl in this song, that girl was named for the state.
But the real attraction to this song isn’t in the lyrics but the murderously catchy melody. It’s the kind of tune that you hum for days and days afterward once you hear it.
An incredibly diverse roster of musicians has recorded it, including Bing Crosby, Roberta Flack, Nancy Sinatra, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
The Beatles recorded it during their storied time in Hamburg, Germany, but the most ubiquitous version— the one used by the Harlem Globetrotters, was laid down in 1949 by Brother Bones and His Shadows.
7. “The Moon Over Georgia” by Shenandoah
Not so much a song about Georgia as it is about choosing a place other than Georgia, Shenandoah’s 1991 release nevertheless spent some time in the Billboard Top Ten.
The song’s narrator recounts how his mate, in the past, had the chance to be with a wealthy Savannah partner, but she instead chose love. The narrator has a small house and not much else.
But rather than living in a mansion with a rich man she doesn’t love, she finds different riches in the view of the stars and the love of her mate.
It’s a nice nod to substance over style, something that was lacking in the Hot Young Country movement going on when this song debuted.
8. “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding
Georgia has about 250 Carolina bays, which are mysterious geological formations left over from the Pleistocene era, but none of them house the titular dock in this Otis Redding classic.
While the word “Georgia” only appears once in the lyrics, the song is about longing for the state that the narrator left for San Francisco. He spends his time looking out over the bay, wistfully remembering his home and longing to return.
Presumably, he never makes it back— he repeats throughout the song that he’ll just sit on the dock and waste time. The recurring whistled hook adds to the song’s melancholy feel.
9. “Ramblin’ Man” by The Allman Brothers
Songwriter Dickey Betts admitted that “Ramblin’ Man” was inspired by a childhood spent with his peripatetic father. He said he was ramblin’ even as a child.
The song’s story begins in Georgia and quickly moves on, but still, the song has associations with the state. The narrator’s father hailed from and died there, presumably while the narrator’s mother was pregnant.
Since he was born on a bus, the narrator may not have even been born in Georgia, but he travels through the South, making weak ties as he presumably plays music in city after city.
10. “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson
The Chattahoochee River runs between Georgia and Alabama before veering into north Georgia.
Alan Jackson sings about growing up somewhere in Georgia along that river. He recalls good times with friends and young women and the summer heat.
The mention of the river recurs throughout the lyric, so we know its importance in the narrator’s life. He never mentions the town or city where he grew up.
The takeaway is that his actual childhood home was the Chattahoochee River. That probably made for a pretty great childhood.
11. “Watermelon Crawl” by Tracy Byrd
“Watermelon Crawl” is a good, old-fashioned story song. A man driving through Georgia finds himself intrigued by a sign advertising a watermelon festival. He isn’t in a hurry, so he checks it out.
He learns that one of the festival’s features is wine made from watermelons and that wine fuels the party that’s already in full swing when he shows up.
However, the Georgia town’s mayor is a law-abiding citizen (or at least wants to limit his town’s liability), so he announces that if you’re drinking the watermelon wine, you shouldn’t drive. His alternative suggestion is to stay at the party and do the watermelon crawl.
While it seems like that might be how you get home (crawling) when you’re drunk on watermelon wine, it turns out it’s actually a dance. The newly crowned Watermelon Queen grabs the narrator’s hand and teaches him the dance. Seems like a good time.
12. “Sweet Augusta Darlin’” by Vince Gill
Vince Gill remains one of the most accomplished, virtuosic, and versatile musicians, not just in country music. “Sweet Augusta Darlin’” appeared on Gill’s 2006 box set “These Days,” a four-disc set that saw the guitarist write, play, and sing in a stunning variety of country music styles.
This song, about a woman from Augusta (perhaps a nod to Gill’s legendary golfing ability, since that’s where they hold The Master’s golf tournament every spring), is a bluegrass waltz that finds Gill playing mandolin and singing about his one true love (other than golfing).
While Gill’s real-life wife Amy Grant grew up in Nashville, she was born in Augusta. That’s probably not a coincidence.
13. “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train” by Billy Joe Shaver
This autobiographical song lists Shaver’s childhood antics, adventures, and lessons.
It’s an uptempo, train-beat country song with some nice picking in it. But, perhaps its actual claim to fame is the people who’ve covered it, including Johnny Cash and Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.
While Shaver’s 1973 recording of the song barely made the Top 100, “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train” remains one of those songs that everybody’s heard.
14. “Georgia Woods” by Keith Urban
Apparently, the pine trees in Georgia are so glorious that they know about them way down in Australia, where Urban comes from.
The song’s narrator admits to losing control of his emotions under those pines in the face of falling in love. He admits to letting his guard down and that the true beauty in the Georgia woods isn’t the full moon but the woman by his side.
Urban said he wrote the song on a guitar that used to be owned by country music legend Waylon Jennings, which was a gift from his movie star wife, Nicole Kidman.
15. “Rainy Night in Georgia” by Brook Benton
A simple song about a roaming man who misses his girl back in Georgia, this hit for R&B star Brook Benton blew up in 1970, just months after Tony Joe White, the songwriter, recorded his own version.
While “Rainy Night in Georgia” wasn’t much of a hit for White, the song’s success propelled him to renown for his songwriting abilities. White also wrote “Polk Salad Annie.”
16. “Georgia Peaches” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Georgia Peaches” is a raucous example of Southern rock from THE Southern rock band. While some argue that the song is about prostitutes, the lyrics seem like perhaps the narrator just loves looking at southern women.
If they can use their looks and sexuality to get by, more power to them. Does that make them prostitutes? That seems like a misogynistic takeaway.
17. “Walkin’ Back to Georgia” by Jim Croce
Another song of longing for the Empire State of the South, Croce’s 1972 love song recalls better times in Macon. The narrator finds himself penniless, having taken some wrong turns in life.
The one thing that keeps him going as he goes back to Georgia (on foot) is the hope that the girl who loved him might still be there and take him back. We never find out if he made it back or if she was waiting on him.
18. “Oh, Atlanta” by Alison Krauss and Union Station
Bad Company originally recorded “Oh, Atlanta” in 1979, but Alison Krauss and Union Station popularized the song in 1995 with their album “Now That I’ve Found You.”
This song is unusual for a love song in that narrator isn’t coming back to Atlanta because she loves someone there, but instead because she loves Atlanta— a pretty cool town that probably deserves its own love song.
19. “Highway 20 Ride” by Zac Brown Band
Wyatt Durette has written quite a few songs for the Zac Brown Band and Luke Combs. He co-wrote “Highway 20 Ride” with Brown.
The song tells of the drive to Augusta on Highway 20, a father driving his son back to the boy’s mother in the wake of a divorce.
It’s a bittersweet song that made it to the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2010. It was Zac Brown Band’s third number one hit.
20. “Cedartown, Georgia” by Waylon Jennings
The title track from Waylon Jennings’ 1971 album tells of heartbreak, jealous rage, and murder.
The narrator meets his bride in their hometown, then takes her away to New Orleans. Once there, he catches her cheating, kills her, and puts her body on a train back to Georgia.
Jennings reigns as the king of Outlaw Country, and this single and the album were part of the early days of his move away from the Nashville sound to the rougher, less-polished oeuvre he’d come to be known for.
21. “Why Georgia” by John Mayer
While John Mayer is just a couple of years too old to be called a millennial, he still serves as the soundtrack for many millennials’ lives, and “Why Georgia” is one of his many songs that captures the zeitgeist of that age group.
He sings it in the first person. Rather than singing as a character, Mayer sings as himself, giving voice to the uncertainty and insecurity of life in one’s 20s— waiting for the perceived onset of adulthood that seems to occur at age 30.
Mayer sings of renting a room and aimlessly knocking around Georgia as he tries to figure out what to do with his life. The song itself is classic Mayer— raspy voice, mid-tempo lilt, and that stuttering acoustic guitar of his.
22. “Lonely Night In Georgia” by Marc Broussard
Georgia in this song isn’t the destination but the place keeping the narrator from his love. Broussard’s quintessential blues voice lends itself well to the song’s melancholia.
Lonely in Georgia, 200 miles from his love, the one thing that keeps him going is the idea of getting back home to his love.
23. “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech”
Probably the most fun college fight song, “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech” brags about the engineering acumen of a Georgia Tech graduate, not to mention his superhuman ability to drink rum.
The Tech man will dress his daughter in the school colors and teach his son to shout, “To hell with [the University of] Georgia.”
For entirely unclear reasons, Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev sang “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech together during their 1959 Moscow meeting. Go figure.
24. “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” by Lobo
Lobo’s 1971 hit sings of missing the old days in Georgia, which turns out to be a universal theme.
Lobo himself (originally christened Roland Kent LaVoie) admitted that though the song is filled with tales of being in Los Angeles and other places while longing for home, Georgia was the only place mentioned in the tune that he’d actually been to.
The song was such a hit that even the Brady Bunch (albeit their cartoon avatars) sang it.
25. “Georgia” by Elton John
Although Sir Elton John has a home in Atlanta today, he wasn’t living there when he wrote “Georgia” in 1978.
Still, he and lyricist Gary Osborne captured the easy feel of life in the Peach State. It longs for a simpler time, with the narrator pining for some acreage in favor of the ever-moving progress of the world around him.
We could have made this list at least twice as long and still fill it with great and well-known songs.
But, this list of 25 songs about Georgia is a pretty comprehensive look at the variety of music about our nation’s fourth state.