10 Of The Best Songs About Pittsburgh: Steel City Playlist

Pittsburgh has a rich backstory playing an essential role in several wars, the Underground Railroad, and the industrial revolution. Immigrants from around the world made their way West from Ellis Island to stake their claim on the riches to be had in this booming city. They brought their cultures to blend together in a melting pot that gave Pittsburgh its unique style. 

What comes to mind when you think of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? The bridges? Their history of steel production? The ”Pittsburger”? There are many sides to this gritty American city, so it’s no wonder it’s been lauded in song more than a few times.

So sit back as we look at 10 of the best songs about Pittsburgh.

1. “Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania” by Guy Mitchell

Love can be challenging no matter where you live, but this particular case of heartbreak takes place “by the pawnshop on the corner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.” 

The narrator describes how he lost his lover to a man with more money than he does. The man is left with nothing because she spent his money on nights on the town, and now he doesn’t even have anything left to pawn. Instead of love, she was more interested in material things. 

This is a melancholy song sung from the perspective of a man who feels alone despite being surrounded by so many people. It’s a feeling most of us have had at some point in our lives. 

2. “Ode to Pittsburgh” by Loudon Wainwright III

Folk singer Loudon Wainwright Jr. wrote this beautiful song as a tribute to “Pennsylvania’s western daughter”, Pittsburgh. It mentions many landmarks and historical figures that helped build the city. 

Wainwright mentions the historic steel town of Duquesne and the neighborhood of Shadyside. He also references John Forbes, the founder of Pittsburgh, as well as the Mellon family – an influential and wealthy family who called Pittsburgh home.

This song has a slow, easygoing vibe, and Wainwright’s emotional, natural voice makes it stand out in the world of city songs. 

3. “Where The Old Allegheny and the Monongahela Flow” by Pete Seeger 

Pete Seeger was one of the great legends of folk music. The singer-songwriter passed away in 2014 and left an impressive musical legacy spanning many decades. Seeger always had a deep love of America’s natural wonders and cityscapes. He penned many songs that celebrated the beauty and diversity of our nation, and this song is one of them. 

It’s a short song, but its simplicity is part of its charm. It talks about the smoke stacks, steamboats, hills, and rivers of Pittsburgh. It sounds much like a lullaby and has a similar calming effect. 

4. “The Bar’s On Fire” by The Bottle Rockets

The Bar’s on Fire tells the story of a band playing a show in Pittsburgh when they suddenly realize the bar is on fire. The alarms are going off, but the beer-loving Pittsburgh bar patrons can only think about saving their favorite drink. Luckily, the song ends on a happy note, with the emergency being only a minor one. 

The rockabilly vibe and fun lyrics make this a fun tune you’d be likely to hear at a tailgate party, a backyard barbecue, or maybe even at a Pittsburgh bar. 

5. “Frick Park Market” by Mac Miller

The rap artist Mac Miller was a Pittsburgh native who was proud of his hometown and often referenced it in his music. After his tragic, untimely death in 2018, fans left flowers and memorial items for him at various locations around the city, including Frick Park Market. This popular shopping site was also used as the title for one of his songs.

The song features many common hip-hop themes of money, women, and fame, but when you listen to it, you get an undeniable sense of Miller’s love for and loyalty to the city where he grew up. 

6. “Pittsburgh Steelers” by The Kendalls 

The Kendalls were a father-daughter country duo that had several hits in the 1970s. Pittsburgh Stealers is a song that uses wordplay and storytelling to paint a vivid picture of an illicit affair. 

The narrators, two married people, meet each other through their job at a steel mill in Pittsburgh. Their spouses worked opposite shifts, enabling the cheating lovers to hook up when they wanted to. 

The song’s name is a double entendre – referencing the industry that Pittsburgh is known for, as well as making a tongue-in-cheek reference to the antics of the couple. 

7. “I’m in Pittsburgh, and Its Raining” by The Outcasts 

Garage punk bands weren’t just invented in the 90s! The Outcasts were a Texas-based punk garage band formed in the 1960s. Listening to them, you can hear traces of the punk music that would eventually take the world by storm in the ’70s and ’80s. 

The song lyrics are about a guy standing in the Pittsburgh subway station on a rainy night. He would go somewhere else, but he’s paralyzed with sadness for a girl he can’t have. It’s a  little song. Only problem? Nobody told the Outcasts that Pittsburgh didn’t have a subway in the 1960s! 

8. “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa

Wiz Kalifa is a Pittsburgh-based rapper whose 2010 song “Black and Yellow’ was a huge hit. It wasn’t long before local TV networks and stadiums were using the theme for promoting local Steelers games. Thanks to its infectious hook and slick rhymes, it was hard to escape the song that year. 

For those who aren’t aware, black and yellow are Pittsburgh’s local football team colors. While the song’s lyrics aren’t about the team and seem to be about a fast sportscar, it became somewhat of an anthem for Steelers fans and a modern ode to the city. 

9. “Pittsburgh Anthem” by Coolraf

Another spirited rap song about the Steel City! Raphael Paul, who records under the name CoolRaf, is a local performer whose music can be found on Youtube and Spotify. While he isn’t a major artist, and this song isn’t a chart-topper, it is a whole-hearted anthem that all Pittsburghers should be proud of. 

The lyrics celebrate the city’s landmarks, party culture, perseverance, and, of course, the Steelers. 

10. “Ambridge Boogie” by Dale Brooks

Ambridge, PA, is a town that’s just outside Pittsburgh. It started as a company town, a town owned by a private company and intended as a place for the company’s employees to live. 

These towns weren’t uncommon during the turn of the early 20th century. In the case of Ambridge, it was owned by the American Bridge Company, one of the corporations that built some of Pittsburgh’s 446 bridges. 

The Ambridge Boogie is a song dedicated to the dance created in Ambridge. While we don’t know exactly what the dance looked like, the song is upbeat and catchy, so we imagine the people of Ambridge were having a pretty good time during their time off. 

Summing Up Our List Of Pittsburgh Songs

Have you enjoyed your musical tour of Pittsburgh, PA?

Between the beauty of the rolling hills, gorgeous rivers, and bustling, multicultural city life, the Pittsburgh area is one of our nation’s most sung-about places.

If you’ve never visited, maybe this list has inspired you to want to take a trip. 

From easy rock and country to rap, Pittsburgh has inspired artists of all genres. 

But what songs did we miss? Let us know, and we’ll add them in!

Photo of author
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.