Missouri is a state that really has it all. For many, it’s just a flyover state, but to the people who live there, there’s no better place on earth. The Show Me State is full of natural beauty, from the rolling foothills of the Ozark Mountains to the open farmlands that feed the country.
While everyone knows about its two biggest cities, Kansas and St. Louis, the state has much more to offer than just that. Its rich history and culture are a melting pot of the Midwest and the old South, giving avid listeners some of the best blues, jazz, and country music you could ask for. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 31 best songs dedicated to Missouri.
1. Songs About Missouri – Michael Tyler
Missouri may be a state many forget about but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of more attention. Michael Tyler brings attention to that fact in his track Songs About Missouri. A tribute to The Show Me State, it outlines everything Missouri has to offer and enlightens listeners about how amazing it actually is. While a lot of people prefer coastal towns and other areas in the South, they’re missing out on the world of possibilities that this state offers.
2. Missouri Moon – Rhonda Vincent
Rhonda Vincent’s favorite time to be out and about in Missouri is at night, as she loves the way the moon shines on all the natural wonders of the state. Her song Missouri Moon is an incredible bluegrass tribute to the state that celebrates its rural areas and the people who live there.
It’s a celebration of the cultural heritage of the state, from the mountains to the farm fields, and it just might be the track that makes native Missourians proud of where they come from. Because whether or not you’ve ever been to Missouri, you’re sure to want to go once you listen to this song.
3. Missing Missouri – Sara Evans
Among the successful artists born in Missouri, you can make an argument that Sara Evans is among the best. She became a major country music star and has continued releasing solid music in the years since. Her song Missing Missouri is an ode to her home state from her album Real Fine Place. Like many others, she longs for home, feeling refreshed and nostalgic when she has the time to go back to Missouri because it’s a place she loves full of people who love her back.
4. Missouri Waltz – Johnny Cash
Missouri Waltz was originally written by Frederick Knight Logan and James Royce Channon in 1914, and it was adopted as the state song of Missouri in 1949. Since it was published over 100 years ago, numerous artists have covered the track.
Johnny Cash’s version is among the most notable thanks to his unique booming voice and the stripped-down instrumental backing he chose to place in the song. The lyrics are an homage to the state’s natural beauty, from rolling hills to slow-moving rivers, and they capture the essence of Missouri’s natural environment beautifully.
5. Cold Missouri Waters – James Keelaghan
Cold Missouri Waters refers to the Missouri River more than it does the state, but it’s become a touching anthem of the state as well. James Keelaghan wrote the song as a tribute to the 13 firefighters who died in the 1949 Mann Gulch Wildfire in Montana. Since then, it has gone on to honor 19 firefighters who died in Arizona fighting a wildfire there in 2013.
The lyrics take listeners through a chief’s plan on how to fight the fire as it went south, but they find themselves trapped on one side by fire and the Missouri River on the other. It’s a terribly sad but beautiful track that deals with the most important waterway in Missouri.
6. Shoveling Coal in Missouri – Jimmie Rodgers
Shoveling Coal In Missouri mainly focuses on the state’s coal mines and the intense labor miners that live in Missouri face daily. Exhaustion, weariness, and health problems are common among coal miners across the country. Because while coal is an important source of fuel, mining by hand is as dangerous as it gets. The state’s history with the stuff is just as intense as Appalachian states that may be more famous for their coal mines. Interestingly, the world’s largest coal shovel is also in Missouri, located in Rich Hill.
7. Missouri – David Nail
David Nail released Missouri in 2011. The song mainly focuses on the diverse landscape of the state, from the Ozark Mountains to the big cities and the ever-important rivers. While he also discusses a love interest who has left him high and dry, the bulk of the track is devoted to the history of Missouri. The Lewis and Clark expedition, the Civil War, and the state’s place in the history of the United States are all topics of discussion in the song.
8. California, Missouri – Kassi Ashton
California might be the farthest thing from Missouri in the mind of anyone reading this article, but rest assured, they go together. California, Missouri, is a small rural town in the heart of the state. To many, it might not seem like much. But for Kassi Ashton, it means everything. If you’re looking for a song that embodies the nature of small towns in Missouri and tells you just how great life is inside of them, look no further than this ode to her hometown.
9. Merry Ol’ Missouri – Shelby Ringdahl
Merry Ol’ Missouri gives us an opportunity to do something we don’t get to every time we do a list of songs about states: include a festive track! That one is an awesome holiday ballad about the state, detailing Shelby Ringdahl’s desire to be able to go home for Christmas.
She has plenty of loved ones and happy memories from growing up in Missouri, making it the only place for her to celebrate the holidays right. It also gives us a look at the culture of the state around that time of year, which is another little peek behind the curtain of Missouri.
10. Southwest Missouri – The Mark Chapman Band
The Mark Chapman Band comes from Missouri, with just about all of their members being residents of the state. Their song Southwest Missouri is a tribute to their home state and the region they grew up in. It focuses primarily on the small towns and rural areas that dot the southwestern portion of the state, painting a picture of a simple life and a shared pride in the communities.
Serving as a love letter to Missouri, it also does a great job of discussing the natural beauty and distinct culture of the state. Coal mines, the Ozarks, and the big cities are just as important and have plenty of lines devoted to them as well.
11. Walkin’ To Missouri – Sammy Kaye
Sammy Kaye wrote and recorded Walkin’ To Missouri in 1952 as a major big band single. It tells the story of a man’s journey to the state, leisurely passing through the beautiful rolling hills and streams of the countryside along the way. He of course runs into several groups of people in small towns and is warmly greeted by them, giving the song a sense of freedom, comfort, and happiness that follows the singer as he walks across Missouri.
12. Kansas City – Jerry Leiber
The blues are one of the most important cultural cornerstones of Missouri, at least in the musical sense. Standards have been composed there for decades, and the genre is deeply rooted in the minds of the people who live there. One of the best compositions to come out of the state has to be Jerry Leiber’s Kansas City, a simple song about heading there to try to find a lover for the night. It’s beautiful, simple, and soulful.
13. The Missouri Waltz – Eddy Arnold
I usually try to avoid different versions of the same song in these lists, but the differences between Johnny Cash’s version of this track and Eddy Arnold’s make them distinct enough that I think it’ll be okay just this once. Arnold’s version of the song features crooning vocals rather than Cash’s gruffer voice.
14. Missouri – Merle Travis
Merle Travis’ song Missouri is a longing ode for the state, home, and to feel the way you used to. The protagonist of the track is from The Show Me State but has gone elsewhere. They obviously want to go home, but it’s because the places they’ve gone don’t give them the same freedom or make them feel as fulfilled as Missouri does. They can literally hear the state calling for them to return, and the singer is more than willing to oblige.
15. Missouri Loves Company – After The Tragedy
A play on the phrase “misery loves company,” Missouri Loves Company was released by After The Tragedy in 2007 on their album The Voyage Of Reason. The heavy rock song was a hit for them, and their sung/screamed vocals rage against the small-town atmosphere that suffocated them. Living in rural areas isn’t for everyone and small towns aren’t particularly inclusive. It’s not a great place for those who don’t fit in, giving a bit of a warning about the state for people who may not.
16. Movin On – Missouri
How about a great song from a band that took their name from the state of Missouri? Movin On is a sad track about a terrible breakup. While the person leaving knows that they want to be with their lover, they aren’t ready to settle down. Ever the rambler, they decide to move on, even if it comes at the cost of ending the relationship.
17. Show Me Missouri Blues – Julia Lee
Julia Lee is a Missouri native who made a name for herself in the state’s blues scene. Her song Show Me Missouri Blues plays on both Missouri’s nickname and her genre of music for its title. The main focus of the track is the singer’s broken relationship, as she was left by the man she loves in Kansas City, Missouri. No matter where the protagonist goes, she can’t escape the blue feelings that haunt her, drawing her back to the state time and time again.
18. Missouri – Jonathan Citrin and Kingston Perry
Missouri truly is a state of wondrous natural beauty, but while many artists focus on a particular time of year or the overall themes of the landscape, Jonathan Citrin and Kingston Perry go above and beyond. Their song Missouri takes a look at the state throughout the different seasons of the year, detailing how the landscape shifts and changes. It’s also such an upbeat track that you might just be impressed enough to move to Missouri and enjoy the sights for yourself after listening to it.
19. Missouri Uncompromised – Pat Metheny
Missouri has been a wide-open state for a long time. It used to be on the frontier of the country, a wild place with room to roam and the freedom to do so. That attitude is still a hallmark of the state even decades and decades later. Pat Metheny was able to capture a lot of those feelings in his song Missouri Uncompromised, a track released in 1976 on his album Bright Size Life.
20. Dark Wind of Missouri – Chris Jones And the Night Drivers
Dark Wind Of Missouri is an incredible song about the state and details Chris Jones’ own memories in it. Plenty of singers, especially on this list, talk about the amazing times they’ve had in Missouri or how fond they are of it. Jones actually does the opposite in this track. His bad memories seem to follow him everywhere he goes, including outside of the state. So for him, it isn’t a fond place or somewhere he wants to go anytime soon.
21. Missouri Dreaming – Avi Bortnick
Avi Bortnik is a well-known jazz guitarist who grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. His song Missouri Dreaming was released in 2003 on the album Clean Slate, and it’s one of the few purely instrumental tracks to capture the vibe of the state perfectly.
22. Wish We Were Back in Missouri – Emmylou Harris
There’s no limit to the number of country artists who love to sing about the way rural life is simpler and more rewarding, but it takes on a special significance when it’s linked to a specific place rather than bandied about as a theme.
Wish We Were Back In Missouri is a song that takes the former approach. It was released by Emmylou Harris in 2007 on her album Songbird: Rare Tracks And Forgotten Gems. And while she hasn’t been the only artist to sing it, the track is still a beautiful tribute to the natural scenery of The Show Me State and the simple small-town lifestyle.
23. Famous in Missouri – Tom T. Hall
Perhaps one of the best-known songs about Missouri, Famous In Missouri is one of Tom T. Hall’s best masterpieces. An avid storyteller in his lyrics, he delivers the tale of a musician who moves away from Missouri in pursuit of bigger and better things. While he’s well-known in his local area, his “fame” hasn’t penetrated the borders of the state and spread out yet. Rather than be disheartened, he resolves to go back to the state where he is a beloved figure and enjoy his life instead of chasing an endless dream of fame.
24. Leaving Missouri – Ry Cooder
Leaving Missouri was written for the 1980 Western film The Long Riders. It was a major feature in the movie, drawing on the sounds of The Show Me State to create a sense of longing in the hearts of every listener. The point of it is to mirror the feelings of many in the West after the Civil War had ended. Lifestyles changed in big ways after the conflict, with some wishing to return to the old ways while others celebrated.
25. Born in Missouri – James Cotton
While the title may be a bit misleading, James Cotton was not born in Missouri. But despite being born in Mississippi, he masterfully captures life in The Show Me State. Known for a blend of music in the first place, Missouri has a thriving blues scene. His song Born In Missouri is a riveting track about the state that showcases his distinct vocal talents and blends southern and midwestern blues into an incredible arrangement.
26. Missouri Rain – Eldorado Down
You can’t get much more recent than our next entry. Eldorado Dawn released Missouri Rain in 2022 on their album Cowboys And Yoga Pants. The rain in the state is known for being fairly strong, but the band uses it as a metaphor for washing the land clean. The rainstorms are inspiring, and he likens them to being able to wash away his sins in addition to nourishing the rich soil that makes up Missouri.
27. Meet Me in St. Louis – Judy Garland
Meet Me In St. Louis was originally composed in 1904 and many artists have sung or performed it over the years. The most famous performance of the song came from Judy Garland in the 1944 film of the same name. The exposition was an incredible gathering of minds, but the performance was what stole the show. It brought both the track and the state back into the national focus and it became a hit single during the ‘40s.
28. Shenandoah – Pete Seeger
Shenandoah might be a bit of a confusing song for some on the list. The Shenandoah Valley and River are both located in the Virginia area, nowhere near Missouri. But in this Pete Seeger track, the singer is longing for the Shenandoah while crossing the mighty Missouri River. It’s a great song about the state, but it seems the protagonist is missing somewhere else, which is honestly a shame. The lyrics capture much of what it must have been like for settlers and explorers who headed west during the early years of the country.
29. Long to See You – Easy Elliott
Long To See You is exactly what you’d expect if you judged it by its title. The song is about longing to see something, but in this case, they’re seemingly headed back to Missouri. The singer decides to leave their lover—or potential partner—behind because they’ve become disillusioned with their current life. They cross the Missouri River and head back home to a place they know they’re welcome and wanted.
30. Meet Me Down – MoonCats
MoonCats released Meet Me Down on their folk album Hot Tea in 2022. The song is mostly repetitive and asks a lover if they’re interested in meeting them on the banks of the Missouri River. This assumedly is them asking for some fun times down by the river, but that isn’t the really important part of the track. It’s a twanging, banjoing, fast, and fun song that will surely get your feet tapping.
31. Happiness, Missouri – EL VY
We’ll end the list with a song that pays Missouri perhaps the best compliment one can give to a place. Calling it happiness may be even more powerful than describing a place as being a paradise. This is exactly the way EL VY describes Missouri in this track. But the easy-listening indie act takes it a step further. Not only is the state the embodiment of happiness for them, but they also layer on the compliments and accolades for the state through eloquent poetic lines throughout the song.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.