10 Best Songs About Rhode Island: Ocean State Playlist

Written by Laura Macmillan
Last updated

Rhode Island—also called the Ocean State, Plantation State, and Little Rhody—has a population just above one million. You might think that not many artists have penned songs about the smallest state in the US, but that isn’t the case!

The gorgeous views of the Ocean State have inspired many songwriters and has been put to song plenty of times.

And in this post, we’re going to take a look at 10 of the best songs about Rhode Island. Read on to learn about them!

Related: For more songs about the United States of America, see our post here.

1. “The Last Resort” By The Eagles

American rock band the Eagles have penned what’s likely the most notable song about the Ocean State. “The Last Resort,” however, isn’t the happiest song in the world. 

Released in 1976, “The Last Resort” holds many messages. Most take the song as a metaphor for creative burnout, but the lyrics at face value are plenty meaningful. The lyrics tell the story of a nation falling away and causing its destruction.

Rhode Island’s Providence is invoked in the first line. The word, providence, is often defined as the care of a religious being or nature itself, which is where the city gets its name from.

Overall, it’s a deep and eloquent song with a great deal of focus on the lyrics. As a metaphor for creative burnout, few songs hit a stronger chord.

2. “Rhode Island Is Famous For You” By Jack Haley and Estelle Loring

Our next song, “Rhode Island Is Famous For You,” is a tough song to nail down a version of. Originally written by Jack Haley and Estelle Loring, the song has been covered by plenty of artists to our current day.

We’ve included the Nancy LaMott version, but if it isn’t to your tastes, you can find plenty of other covers!

“Rhode Island Is Famous For You” is usually considered a love song, and given the lyrics, it’s not hard to see why. The singer discusses all the many things that the states of the United States are famous for.

When it comes to Rhode Island, they conclude that the best thing to come out of the Ocean State is the person they’re singing to.

It’s an easy show tune that fills the heart with romantic joy. No matter what version you’re listening to, you’re sure to love the track. 

3. “Little Rhody” By Timmy May

Timmy May’s “Little Rhody” is an adorable love song dedicated to the coziness of the nation’s smallest state. The chorus states that you are never far from wherever you’ve left, and given the size of the state, that is certainly true!

With a folksy, almost bluegrassy instrumentation and some heartfelt vocals, it’s a beautiful track to dedicate to the Ocean State, with the singer also listing wonderful virtues of the place.

While far from the most well-known song, it’s sure to make your road trip’s playlist.

4. “Rhode Island” By The Front Bottoms

The song “Rhode Island” has several topics flying through the lyrics, opening with a mention of the state itself.

The singer mentions someone they know who seems to be in hiding from the government. The songwriters would later go on to specify it was about a fan at one of their shows.

With a backpack full of drugs, the fan said that he was going to drive from Rhode Island down to Florida on his bicycle. Discussing a bike trip, the singer states that Florida is far away from Rhode Island.

The band later ran into him at another show further down the years. When asked, the fan allegedly said he didn’t make the whole journey before he had to turn around.

5. “Summertime In Rhode Island” By Someday Providence

The band Someday Providence brings a quiet reggae beat to their track “Summertime in Rhode Island” for the first half. Afterward, the song quickly transitions into more of a classic rock song.

Lyrically, the song focuses on the beauty of the island during the summer, how it is the place to be during that season, and the stunning women there.

The band sings about meeting a woman in a yellow bikini, rolling a joint, and spending the afternoon doing things one can’t mention in church. 

6. “Holiday In Rhode Island” By The Softies

Released in 2000 in their album of the same name, “Holiday in Rhode Island” is a rather simple track by the Softies, but there’s an enchanting beauty in the longing of the lyrics.

The songs starts with gentle guitar strumming and talks of a visit to the Ocean State. the singer pokes fun at the miserable weather, saying that they weren’t warned it’s as dreadful as it is.

Despite the weather, the singer is happy to spend their holiday in Rhode Island. The state itself is lovely, but their favorite thing is being in their lover’s arms again.

7. “Sweet Rhode Island Red” By Ike & Tina Turner

The song “Sweet Rhode Island Red” of singer duo Ike and Tina Turner is about the state to an extent, but it’s far from the focus. Instead, the primary note of the track is on the singer, Sweet Rhode Island Red herself.

Considered an exotic beauty for being biracial, the singer becomes a quick hit in town.

With her company sought after for various reasons, she seduces the pastor and deacon in the church. It’s a raunchy track, but one with all the fun of Little Rhody in its lyrics.

8. “Rhode Island” By The Innocence Mission

A little less energetic compared to the previous song, the Innocence Mission’s “Rhode Island” is a quiet acoustic ballad. The dreamy guitars and echoing vocals give a longing, nostalgic feeling to the track.

Through the track, the singers makes a begrudging departure from Rhode Island. They lament about how they don’t want to leave the side of their loved one and their reluctance to share bad news with him.

Toward the end, they wonder what will happen now, as they leave cradled in the Ocean State’s waves.

9. “Tour The States” By Renald Francoeur

Our penultimate song by Renald Francoeur, “Tour the States,” isn’t solely about Rhode Island, but it gets a shoutout as the singer talks of places he wants to visit. The Ocean State is mentioned toward the end, along with the city of Providence.

The educational track is meant to help listeners learn about the states and capitals of the United States. The music video also gives an interesting visual of the tour.

It’s a great song to listen to with your young ones so they can learn some geography and get hooked on the beat!

10. “Poor Little Rhode Island” By Guy Lombardo

There’s a decent chance you’ve heard this timeless classic without realizing it! Released in 1945, “Poor Little Rhode Island” is a full-band piece in a style they just don’t make anymore.

The best way to date it is that they refer to the forty-eight states of the United States, as Alaska and Hawaii weren’t states yet!

Guy Lombardo and his band pity Rhode Island for the lack of plains and is the smallest state and bemoan that no one has written a song for the state.

It’s a comedic, old-timey track that you can’t find the likes of anymore. If you’re throwing a thematic party (or just love old music), you can’t leave this off your playlist!

Summing Up Our Playlist Of Rhode Island Songs

There aren’t as many songs about Rhode Island as we wish there were, but there are still plenty pieces to listen to!

Whether you’re going back to the 1940s, giving it a country twist, or listening to the Front Bottoms voice concern over a cross-country fan, you can find something for anyone.

Did we leave your favorite song off of our list? Be sure to let us know what songs are your favorite and we’ll add them in.

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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.