15 Of The Best Songs About Louisiana: Pelican State Playlist

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Written by Laura Macmillan
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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.

Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll likely find from our list of 15 of the best songs about Louisiana. Read on to learn more.

1. “Walking To New Orleans” By Fats Domino

The American singer-songwriter Fats Domino himself was from New Orleans. It makes sense that one of the most iconic southern rock and roll singers is responsible for this NoLa-centric hit, “Walking to New Orleans.”

Bobby Charles wrote this song for Fats Domino when the latter 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.

What Charles came up with is now one of the most popular songs about New Orleans, Louisiana. The singer claims, “New Orleans is my home” and proves it by going back to the city after a breakup.

2. “House Of The Rising Sun” By The Animals

Our next song is once again about New Orleans. While this folk song has been around for nearly a century, the rock band The Animals released its most infamous cover in 1964. “House of the Rising Sun” pertains to a gambling den where a person’s life can go wrong.

The beginning of the song introduces us to a house in New Orleans called “the Rising Sun.” According to the singer, the place is “the ruin of many a poor boy,” including him.

He knows it’s going to be his doom and warns other mothers to keep their children from doing what he did. And yet, he’s on his way back to the Rising Sun.

3. “Born On The Bayou” By Creedence Clearwater Revival

The rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival is from California. However, their 1969 hit song “Born on the Bayou” is a story that takes place on the bayous of Louisiana.

Surprisingly, the songwriter lacked experience with bayous as he’d never been to one. Yet he was able to tell the story of someone growing up in the backwoods of the Louisiana swamps.

The song also has some mythical elements, with the singer’s dog “chasing down a hoodoo there.” Hoodoo refers to an African spiritual belief system. It is a common practice in Louisiana, bringing a degree of authenticity to the song.

4. “Royal Orleans” By Led Zeppelin

The title of this song, “Royal Orleans,” is about a 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 Led Zeppelin members while at the state.

Turns out John Paul Jones had mistakenly taken a drag queen to his room after mistaking them for a cisgender woman.

The light-hearted song pokes fun at the whole experience. It even references 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

Our next song with “Louisiana” in the title is one from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The rock band released “Louisiana Rain” in 1979, a song that Petty himself wrote.

The song seems to speak of a man who travels around the country. He seems lost emotionally 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 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

It’s easy to identify with Garth Brooks’ song “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” It’s about meeting a person for the first time and you can’t stop thinking about them. All you want to do is be with them the soonest.

From the lyrics, we discover that the singer meets a girl named Samantha while in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He falls quickly 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 Samantha that he will stop at nothing to send 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

There’s a little story behind The Dixie Cups‘ 1965 song “Iko Iko.” They didn’t know the origin of the song. Only that they heard their mothers sing it.

Originally titled “Jock-a-Mo,” songwriter James Crawford only wanted to write a catchy song. It came from two Indian chants. Jock-a-Mo is a chant for when Indians go to battle. Iko Iko, on the other hand, is a victory chant. He combined these two to create one song.

Crawford sued and claimed that “Iko Iko” was the same as his “Jock-a-Mo.” He didn’t win authorship to the song but was only credited 25% for its performance in the US. Nevertheless, “Iko Iko” would become an emblematic tune of New Orleans.

8. “Down At The Twist And Shout” By Mary Chapin Carpenter

Country artist Mary Chapin Carpenter sings about a booming Saturday night in New Orleans in “Down at the Twist and Shout.”

The song references 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. 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 The Royal Pendletons

The 1970 song “Give Me Louisiana” is not just any ode to Louisiana. It is one of the official state songs, written by Doralice Fontana. The Royal Pendletons had the most famous version in 1998.

King Louie Bankston, the band’s frontman, was from Louisiana. So, he was more than willing to cover the song. Many artists have covered the Louisiana anthem since Fontane first wrote it.

“Give Me Louisiana” references snowy cotton, sweet magnolias, and Creole culture. It sings about the southern terrain, oaks, and plantations.

10. “Louisiana Moon” By Alabama

Another song with “Louisiana” in the lyrics is “Louisiana Moon” 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 named Betty Jo 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. If the alligators do not get him, the girl’s father will.

11. “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)” By Hank Williams

Jambalaya is a Creole and Cajun rice dish with French and Spanish influence. The Cajuns, though, are credited for creating this dish. And Hank Williams had his version of a song titled “Jambalaya” in 1952. Many believe the song title to be “On the Bayou” because of how often he repeated the phrase.

The song talks about several elements of Louisiana culture. Aside from jambalaya, there are 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. One of the most infamous covers is by the pop-rock band Carpenters in 1973.

12. “Louisiana” By Tim McGraw

Up next is a song that mentions “Louisiana” in a sentimental way. American country singer Tim McGraw was born in Delhi and raised in Tallulah, Louisiana. He uses “Louisiana” to show how nostalgic 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.

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. Thank God for Lucinda Williams, whose “Louisiana Man” is an ode to men who hail from the Pelican 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 alternative song, “Queen of New Orleans.” The song was released in 1997 as part of his Destination Anywhere album.

The song tells the story of a man meeting a Cajun woman in New Orleans. He is so smitten with her that he even compares her to French wine. He spends time dancing the night away with her on Bourbon Street. This happens to be the busiest and most famous street in the French Quarter.

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

We are ending this list with the 1980 country song “Louisiana Saturday Night.” Here, 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 is like. For starters, Louisiana Saturday nights consist of dancing in the kitchen or drinking with brothers and some friends.

These are some Saturday night specials that the singer takes part in until he gets old. 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

Those who have lived in Louisiana or visited the place can attest to the beauty of the state and everything it represents. Luckily for us, Louisiana has the heart and soul to encourage artists to make alluring songs with bewitching stories.

For people who have not been there yet, we can only rely on these songs to give us a glimpse of what it is like to experience Louisiana.

Thankfully, we have enough songs that celebrate the Pelican State. Have we included all your favorite tunes about Louisiana? We hope you fell in love with the state with the songs in this compilation.

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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.