10 Of The Best Songs About Wichita: Cowtown Playlist

Written by Laura Macmillan
Last updated

Every place is special, especially for the memories it holds for a person. And today, we’re going to Wichita. Or rather, we’re going to talk about songs written about this place.

Wichita earned the nickname “Cowtown” when it was a trading post on the Chisholm Trail in the 1860s. It then became known as the “Air Capital of the World” in the 1920s and 1930s because it was a hub for airplane production.

Being the largest city in Kansas, there’s no surprise that it’s inspired a fair number of songs. Read on to discover 10 of the best songs about Wichita and how musicians pay tribute to this iconic metropolis.

Related: The best songs about Kansas.

1. “Wichita Lineman” By Glen Campbell

The concept of this song might not sound like much. In fact, it doesn’t need deep analysis. Glen Campbell‘s “Wichita Lineman” is as simple as the title says.

This song was inspired when songwriter Jimmy Webb was driving along a lonely road. He spotted a lineman on a ladder on top of a telephone pole. It prompted Webb to ask questions about the man’s job.

And so Webb wrote a song about a lineman on an ordinary day having ordinary thoughts. Being on the job as a lineman can get lonely, so he entertains thoughts to pass the time. He thinks about having a vacation and the woman he loves.

Related: Read our list of songs about Kansas City here.

2. “Wichita Blues (Going To Louisiana)” By Bob Dylan

The 1962 song “Wichita Blues” is an outtake from Bob Dylan’s 50th-anniversary collection. He only played it for that recording, so it’s a rare gem. Robert Johnson wrote the original song, and Dylan recorded it just for fun, as a warm-up and practice session.

“Wichita Blues” is a story of a man trying to get to Wichita without any money while enduring bad weather. He says that on the day he went to Wichita and on the day he leaves the city, “the weather was a-killing me.”

The song also finds him wanting the train operator to let him ride for free, but the operator wouldn’t. At the song’s end, the narrator changes his course for a new destination.

3. “Golden” By Lady A

When you listen to this song by Lady A, you’ll realize that “Golden” isn’t just the title. It’s also the visual you’ll imagine. The band calls to mind the sun shining on an expanse of wheat fields in Wichita.

Its lyrics compare that golden hue with how precious their sweetheart is to them while demonstrating a deep affinity for Wichita’s natural beauty.

The second verse lists the things the narrator loves about their partner. From their laugh, their cry, and the love they share. Golden doesn’t only refer to the color in this song but also how timeless and perfect their love feels.

4. “Wichita Skyline” By Shawn Colvin

Our next song with “Wichita” in the title is Shawn Colvin‘s “Wichita Skyline.” Colvin is a singer-songwriter who grew up in the Midwest and always loved music.

The lyrics to “Wichita Skyline” are somewhat autobiographical. Colvin recounts how she felt so stuck and lonely throughout her life. In the song, she dreams of moving away but feels like her life is flat and low, like the Wichita skyline.

The song conveys a sense of hopelessness. She thinks there’s nothing out there for her and worries that things won’t get better. Still, she looks for something bright to help her feel better about the future but struggles to do so.

5. “Wichita Jail” By The Charlie Daniels Band

You might know Charlie Daniels because of his song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” With his band, he created another song based on a location: “Wichita Jail.” Despite the downtrodden lyrics, the song has an upbeat tempo and a catchy chorus.

The lyrics tell the story of a man who woke up in a Wichita jail. From his description of his appearance, how he feels, and his injuries, it’s safe to say he got into a brawl with another man.

Now he has to wait thirty days in a Wichita jail in Kansas. He’s “gotta do my time” before he can leave to see his lover in Mississippi.

6. “Wichita” By Gary Jules

If you’re familiar with the movie Donnie Darko, then you know Gary Jules‘ version of “Mad World.” His other song, “Wichita,” has a similar moody vibe and slow tempo.

Jules said he wrote the song after taking a course at UCLA on Native American history. He learned that they used to follow bison herds to find food and water as they were crucial for their survival.

The lyrics paint a picture of a lonely life on the road. It’s very visual, with a red sun during the day and the moon reflecting on the water at night. The narrator is alone, moving from California toward Wichita but stuck at a truck stop because the terrain is frozen.

7. “Wichita” By Misty River

You might mistake their name for a solo artist, but Misty River is actually a bluegrass band. They use guitars, accordions, and fiddles to create a unique sound, as you can tell from their song, “Wichita.”

This song tells the story of a woman going home to her parents after her marriage ends. The narrator sees the woman at a gas station while she is at a neighboring pump.

They make small talk about their journeys, and the narrator talks about the beauty of Wichita fields. It is “where the grass grows tall and the fields burn in the fall.” We can tell from the lyrics that she misses Wichita.

8. “Wichita” By The Jayhawks

This single from the Jayhawks mentions “Wichita” in a way that is unlike the other songs on this list. In other words, this is the other side of Wichita.

While others portray the city as a stunning prairie, this one from the Jayhawks calls the land evil. What’s more, the singer says, “Won’t be there in 40 days… Brings a devil’s cloud.”

However, one part of the song is about smiling fields, and the singer feels the happiness that he has someone special. Still, we get the feeling that he is on some kind of escape, perhaps in search of something better.

9. “Wichita” By The Eastern Plain

This mellow acoustic song tells the story of being in love with a city. The Eastern Plain sings about how “Wichita” influenced him, but he also doesn’t want to stay there once he grows up.

In the meantime, the singer enjoys sitting by the river and seeing the lights of the city from a distance, twinkling as if they were stars. However, life in the city itself isn’t as great.

Still, as Wichita is his hometown, he knows that he’ll always remember it. Coming back to visit would feel like starting all over again because everything seems the same.

10. “Wichita” By Gretchen Peters

This song with “Wichita” in the lyrics tells an emotional story from the point of view of a 12-year-old girl. This came off Gretchen PetersDancing with the Beast album, whose songs tackle depression and heartbreak.

As we can tell from the lyrics, the girl’s father ran away the night she was born. The doctor told her mama that “there’s something wrong” with her. She “may not be too smart” but we can see how much she cares for her younger sister.

Sadly, their mother can’t care for them, so an unspecified “you” bring groceries and harm her and the mother. The girl believes the cops won’t believe her if she reported the person. She takes matters into her own hands by loading her mama’s gun. She declares there are worse things than law-breaking in Wichita.

Summing Up Our List Of Wichita Songs

Wichita is a big city, and songs like the ones on our list give it life beyond the limits of its borders.

Listen to these songs that pay tribute to the biggest city in Kansas. Hopefully, these tracks will help you learn more about this place and discover how it has inspired so many great musicians.

We hope you liked the songs we have included in the list. Have we missed any? We’ll do our best to update the list so come check it out every now and then.

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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.