Pennsylvania has been a muse to countless musicians. The state’s vivid character, from its bustling urban hubs to its peaceful pastoral landscapes, has inspired songs across every imaginable genre. Dive into 20 tunes that pay tribute to the Keystone State.
Songs about Pennsylvania have a certain magic to them. It’s like hearing the very soul of the state translated into melody. Whether it’s the rich history of Philadelphia, the industrial prowess of Pittsburgh, or the serene beauty of the Pocono Mountains, there’s something in Pennsylvania’s essence that has beckoned to songwriters across generations.
- 1. “Pennsylvania” by Cabinet
- 2. “Allentown” by Billy Joel
- 3. “Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John
- 4. “You’ve Got A Friend In Pennsylvania” by New Found Glory
- 5. “Philadelphia Lawyer” by Rose Maddox
- 6. “Pennsylvania” by Heart
- 7. “Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania” by Guy Mitchell
- 8. “Pittsburgh” by The Lemonheads
- 9. “Philly, Philly” by Eve
- 10. “Amish Paradise” by Weird Al
- 11. “Pennsylvania” by Bloodhound Gang
- 12. “New Sensations” by Lou Reed
- 13. “Streets Of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen
- 14. “South Pennsylvania Waltz” by 16 Horsepower
- 15. “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince
- 16. “Harrisburg” by Josh Ritter
- 17. “Pennsylvania Is” by Everclear
- 18. “Pittsburgh Sound” by Wiz Kalifa
- 19. “Clampdown” by The Clash
- 20. “Pennsylvania Turnpike, I Love You” by Homer and Jethro
1. “Pennsylvania” by Cabinet
“Pennsylvania” by Cabinet describes the adventure of a group of young men who are traveling through different places and one day decide to stop in Pennsylvania. There they live several adventures and what they remember most about that state is the weather: rain, wind and also the summer heat. They definitely had a good time there and had a beautiful memory of that place.
2. “Allentown” by Billy Joel
Take a listen to “Allentown” by the ever-talented Billy Joel. The song encapsulates the story of a man who feels that life in Allentown, despite his best efforts, hasn’t quite lived up to his expectations.
Joel’s haunting lyrics paint a vivid image of a city where its residents, despite their hard work and aspirations, face relentless struggles. This hit from the ’80s is not only catchy but tells a compelling story of resilience and the American dream.
3. “Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John
Nothing says gratitude quite like Elton John’s chart-topping hit “Philadelphia Freedom.” Through vibrant piano chords and soaring vocals, John sings a love letter to the city that gave him a sense of freedom and belonging unlike any other place he’s been. It’s a joyous ode to Philadelphia, encapsulating the city’s spirit of liberty and the sense of peace it brought to the song’s protagonist.
4. “You’ve Got A Friend In Pennsylvania” by New Found Glory
“You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania” describes a man who has freed himself from various emotional blocks and now feels satisfied with himself. Hidden beneath the layers of pop-punk chords, you’ll find a tale of longing and the hope of reuniting with a loved one to share newfound happiness.
5. “Philadelphia Lawyer” by Rose Maddox
Rose Maddox’s “Philadelphia Lawyer” takes a darkly romantic turn with its narrative of a love triangle gone horribly wrong. It spins the tale of a lawyer enamored by a Hollywood maid, who’s currently with a cowboy.
When the cowboy discovers his girlfriend’s affair, he reacts violently, leading to a tragic ending. This tune, with its classic country vibe, unfolds a narrative as dramatic as any old Western movie.
6. “Pennsylvania” by Heart
The song “Pennsylvania by Heart” is about a girl who meets a boy she likes, but he is troubled. The lyrics describe everything surrounding the situation and the influence of Pennsylvania: people, coffee shops, cars, neon towers. The song leaves listeners pondering whether the boy was a reality or just a spectral presence.
7. “Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania” by Guy Mitchell
Set to a catchy tune, “Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania” by Guy Mitchell spins the tale of a smitten guy who’s gone broke due to his infatuation with a captivating girl. This classic hit talks about the protagonist’s regret over his lack of wealth, the pawn shop in Pittsburgh, and his determination to win the girl back. It’s a playful, yet touching narrative on love and desire that resonates with many.
8. “Pittsburgh” by The Lemonheads
For a more introspective and symbolic take, look no further than “Pittsburgh” by The Lemonheads. This abstract tune explores the concept of lost innocence and the stark reality it reveals. Though the lyrics are somewhat cryptic, it suggests that Pittsburgh was where the singer’s rose-tinted glasses came off, hinting at the personal connection artists can have with places.
9. “Philly, Philly” by Eve
Eve’s “Philly, Philly” is a powerful tribute to her hometown of Philadelphia. Through the narrative, the singer highlights how her experiences in Philly have shaped her identity. The song masterfully encapsulates the strong sense of belonging and community that one feels towards their place of origin, making it a true anthem for all Philadelphians.
10. “Amish Paradise” by Weird Al
Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise” offers a humorous, yet respectful, glance into the lives of Pennsylvania’s Amish communities. Living without modern amenities like electricity or running water, the song brings to light the distinctive lifestyles that thrive within Pennsylvania. It’s a playful, yet insightful look at diversity within the state.
11. “Pennsylvania” by Bloodhound Gang
If you’re searching for a youthful, fun song about Pennsylvania, the Bloodhound Gang’s track fittingly named “Pennsylvania” should be on your playlist. The lyrics depict a group of friends whose identity and lifestyle are deeply intertwined with their home state.
This energetic anthem speaks to the sense of camaraderie and unity fostered by the Keystone State, showcasing the powerful bond between people and their homeland.
12. “New Sensations” by Lou Reed
In Lou Reed’s hit “New Sensations,” we meet a man on the brink of transformation, eager to leave past mistakes behind and embrace a brighter future. The protagonist yearns for positive, uplifting experiences and a harmonious relationship with his surroundings. It’s a powerful track about personal evolution that echoes the spirit of resilience and rebirth.
13. “Streets Of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen’s Oscar-winning masterpiece, “Streets of Philadelphia,” became an anthem of the ’90s. Featured as the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed movie Philadelphia, the song’s narrative intertwines with the film’s plot about a gay man grappling with an AIDS diagnosis. It’s a heart-wrenching tale of sorrow and courage, reflected in Springsteen’s poignant lyrics.
14. “South Pennsylvania Waltz” by 16 Horsepower
16 Horsepower’s “South Pennsylvania Waltz” is a song of defiance and courage. Its narrative follows a man who, once cowed, is now ready to confront and expel his tormentor from his beloved Pennsylvania. The song’s resonant lyrics and hypnotic rhythm offer a dramatic portrayal of personal strength and reclaiming one’s space.
15. “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince
Nothing encapsulates the spirit of summer quite like DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s iconic hit “Summertime.” The song takes us on a joyous journey of leisure and relaxation, filled with music, parties, and endless fun. A mega-hit in the ’90s, it encourages listeners to embrace the sun-soaked season and the respite it offers from the year-round hustle and bustle.
16. “Harrisburg” by Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter’s “Harrisburg” explores an intense and deeply emotional narrative. The song unfolds the tragic story of a man who takes his own life. Its lyrical content is sensitive and may be emotionally challenging for some listeners, but it highlights the importance of discussing mental health. As somber as the narrative is, it’s a powerful reminder of the underlying issues society often overlooks.
17. “Pennsylvania Is” by Everclear
Everclear’s “Pennsylvania Is” takes us on an intense emotional journey through love gone wrong. The song’s main characters fall passionately in love, only for things to take a dark turn into domestic violence, prison, and a baby left without a father. It’s a gripping tale that resonates with the power of storytelling in music.
18. “Pittsburgh Sound” by Wiz Kalifa
Wiz Khalifa’s “Pittsburgh Sound” isn’t just a song – it’s a raw reflection of life in Pittsburgh. From gang rivalry to everyday struggles, this song isn’t afraid to dive deep into the gritty realities. But beyond the challenges, it also reveals a strong sense of belonging and identity tied to the city. Khalifa’s hit captures the complex beauty of his hometown, making it a must-listen for urban explorers.
19. “Clampdown” by The Clash
The Clash’s “Clampdown” is pure punk rebellion, an anthem for freedom and a stand against oppression. True to the band’s anarchistic style, the song blasts conformity and warns against losing oneself to repression. It’s a timeless hit that still resonates, a reminder to always question authority and fight for what you believe in.
20. “Pennsylvania Turnpike, I Love You” by Homer and Jethro
Homer and Jethro’s 1969 classic, “Pennsylvania Turnpike, I Love You,” is a charming ode to the Keystone State. The song weaves together historical facts with a heartfelt tribute to the famous toll road, creating a nostalgic melody that carries the listener down memory lane. It’s a vintage gem that continues to captivate fans of Pennsylvania’s rich history.
From love and heartbreak to rebellion and identity, the songs about Pennsylvania cover a vast spectrum of human experiences. Through the lenses of talented musicians, the state comes to life in vibrant colors, reflecting its unique character, history, and the idiosyncrasies of its people.
Whether you’ve visited Pennsylvania or just want to explore it through music, these tunes provide a resonating journey into the heart of a state that has inspired so many unforgettable melodies.