Louisiana is a soulful and charming state full of captivating people. Anyone who has experienced the culture of the southern state knows how special it is. Its unreplicable energy makes it the subject of some beautiful songs.
The music about the state spans different genres and tells a myriad of unique stories. Some take place on the bayou, while others detail experiences in the heart of New Orleans. Read on to learn more about the best songs about Louisiana.
1. “Walking to New Orleans” by Fats Domino
Fats Domino himself was from New Orleans, so it makes sense that one of the most iconic southern rock and roll singer-songwriters is responsible for this NoLa-centric hit.
Bobby Charles wrote this song for Fats Domino when Domino invited him to his house in New Orleans. Charles did not have a car, so he joked that he would have to walk.
The thought stuck with him, and he conjured up the song in fifteen minutes. It is now one of the most popular songs about New Orleans.
2. “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals
In “House of the Rising Sun,” the singer talks about how a person’s life can go wrong in New Orleans, including gambling, alcoholism, and prostitution.
While the folk song has been around for nearly a century, the rock band The Animals released its most infamous cover in 1964.
The Animal’s version brings a certain bluesy flair to the song, making it the perfect New Orleans tune. NoLa locals speculate about whether or not the House of the Rising Sun exists.
Some believe that it was a brothel, or at least a euphemism for one, while others think that it is an actual house on Esplanade Avenue.
3. “Born on the Bayou” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival is from California, but the rock band’s 1969 hit song “Born on the Bayou” tells a convincing story about being born and raised on the bayous of Louisiana.
The lead singer’s fictional self grew up in the backwoods of the Louisiana swamps. He would meet Cajun people and occasionally took the train down to New Orleans.
The song even mentions the singer’s dog chasing after a Hoodoo person. Hoodoo refers to an African spiritual belief system. It is a common practice in Louisiana, bringing a degree of authenticity to the tune.
The album’s name is Bayou Country, so this song is not the only one about Louisiana on the record. It is, however, the most well-known.
4. “Royal Orleans” by Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin wrote “Royal Orleans” about the hotel of the same name that the band liked to stay in when visiting Louisiana. The 1976 song follows the true story of one of the band members taking a drag queen up to a hotel room in the French Quarter.
John Paul Jones had mistakenly taken the person to his room after mistaking them for a cisgender woman.
The light-hearted song pokes fun at the whole experience, even referencing when a lit joint started a fire in the room. It gives listeners insight into the lives of the band members while encapsulating NoLa’s charm.
5. “Louisiana Rain” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
In 1979, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released a song that Petty wrote, “Louisiana Rain.”
The song seems to speak of a man who travels around the country but comes back to his home in New Orleans. Metaphorical rain soaks his shoes and runs down his face.
The “rain” changes him so that by the time he returns to his hometown of Baton Rouge, he is no longer the same person.
Despite being from Florida, Tom Petty tells a heartfelt story about Louisiana in this country-rock number.
6. “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks’ 1993 album In Pieces includes “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” The tune follows a man who spends a night with a woman from Louisiana.
He falls quick and hard for her. When he leaves the state, he stops at a truck stop and attempts to reach her on the telephone.
The singer has found himself so enamored with the Louisiana girl that he will stop at nothing to send her his love over the phone.
He pleads with the operator to put him through to her, speaking to just how enchanting a girl from Louisiana can be.
7. “Iko Iko” by the Dixie Cups
The Dixie Cups sing “Iko Iko,” a song named for a Native American victory chant.
In the song, two separate tribes of Mardi Gras Indians collide with each other during the Mardi Gras parade. The confrontation follows, resulting in the chant. The song was an international hit in 1965.
The folksy soul song has become an emblematic tune of New Orleans. Visitors can hear it playing all over the city, especially in the late winter during Mardi Gras.
Many other artists have released their versions, including The Belle Stars, Captain Jack, and The Molly Ringwalds. Some even switch up the genre, but the tune maintains its NoLa heart.
8. “Down at the Twist and Shout” by Mary Chapin Carpenter
In “Down at the Twist and Shout,” country artist Mary Chapin Carpenter sings about a booming Saturday night in New Orleans.
The song features a variety of references to New Orleans culture, including Cajun food like alligator stew and crawfish pie. It even references the Gulf Storms and hurricanes that NoLa’s turbulent weather often brings.
The fun tune not only tells the story of dancing the night away in Louisiana, but the song itself is easy to dance to. It is perfect for both visitors and locals to play while getting ready for a night out.
9. “Give Me Louisiana” by Doralice Fontane
“Give Me Louisiana” is not just any old song about Louisiana. It is one of the official state songs, written in 1970 by Doralice Fontana and composed by Dr. John Croom. The song references cotton plantations, the southern terrain, and Creole culture.
Many artists have covered the Louisiana anthem since Fontane first wrote it. The most famous version comes from the alternative band The Royal Pendletons in 1998.
King Louie Bankston, the band’s frontman, was from Louisiana. So, he was more than willing to cover the song.
10. “Louisiana Moon” by Alabama
“Louisiana Moon” is a song by the country band Alabama. They released the song in 1985, capturing the state’s more mystical side.
The singer says that the Louisiana moon has cast a spell on him. In other words, he has fallen in love with a woman from Louisiana.
The song says that men will do crazy things under the entrancing Louisiana moon. The band gives the example of sneaking away with his lover to the swamp. Even if the alligators do not get him, the girl’s father will.
11. “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” by Hank Williams
Hank Williams sings the 1952 hit, “Jambalaya.” Many believe the song title to be “On the Bayou” because of how often he repeats the phrase.
The song talks about several elements of Louisiana culture, such as jambalaya, crawfish pie, and gumbo, as necessary parts of a fun day on the bayou with the people he loves.
The song has come to live in Louisiana infamy, with many artists covering it since the 1950s. One of the most infamous covers is by the pop-rock band Carpenters in 1973 on their album Now and Then.
12. “Louisiana” by Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw is from Delhi, Louisiana. The country artist uses this song to talk about how sentimental he gets thinking of his birthplace.
Many Louisiana-born listeners may be able to relate to this 2016 single. It talks about how the now-adult spent time in the state as an innocent child who had yet to see the world.
Tim McGraw sings about the magnolia sky, the sounds from the bayou, and the French Quarter. Despite loving where he is, he left a part of himself in Louisiana, like many others who moved away from the state.
13. “Louisiana Man” by Lucinda Williams
There are plenty of songs written about Louisiana women, but Lucinda Williams sings this 1980 country song about a man from the state.
She sings about how the men from Louisiana have a unique style, even with the cowboy hat and boots that so many southern men wear. The specific man that she sings of is eye-catching and plays the guitar.
Male Louisiana listeners may find some flattery in this tune. Lucinda Williams is from Louisiana, so she knows what she is talking about in this catchy hit.
14. “Queen of New Orleans” by Jon Bon Jovi
New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi sings about the state of Louisiana in his 1997 alternative song, “Queen of New Orleans.”
The song tells the story of a man meeting a Cajun woman in New Orleans. He spends time dancing the night away with her on Bourbon Street. The street is the busiest and most famous in the French Quarter.
He even compares her to French wine. The lyric is clever since the Cajun people are descendants of the French-Canadians that once inhabited the city. The mention brings an extra dose of culture to Bon Jovi’s song about Louisiana.
15. “Louisiana Saturday Night” by Mel McDaniel
In the 1980 country song “Louisiana Saturday Night,” Mel McDaniel gives listeners a glimpse into how Louisiana Saturday night merrymaking looks.
The singer is from Oklahoma, but he has a pretty clear idea of what a night on the bayou would be like.
Possums, rifles, family, and dancing in the kitchen are some Saturday night essentials. It may not detail a wild night out on Bourbon Street, but the song holds just as true. Part of Louisiana’s charm is its more intimate southern moments.
Summing Up Our List Of Louisiana Songs
There is no shortage of art in Louisiana, and the state itself is so spellbinding that stirs musicians to make even more.
New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the bayou all seem to be the most common subjects of Louisiana songs. L
uckily for music lovers everywhere, these places have the heart and soul to encourage artists to make alluring songs with bewitching stories.