While most of us will recognize the theme song of the old “Drew Carey Show” as being a nod to the state of Ohio, it can be challenging to come up with additional tunes that honor the Buckeye State.
To find out what songs reference this famous Midwest state, continue reading for the best songs about Ohio.
“Carry Me Ohio” by Sun Kil Moon
Song Year: 2003
From the album “Ghosts of the Great Highway” comes the song entitled “Carry Me Ohio” by Sun Kil Moon. The song's meaning comes from the artist's relationship during his time in Ohio. While the relationship has ended, the sorrow that comes with the breakup continues.
Ultimately, the artist expresses a desire to have the beloved memories remain where they started, in the great state of Ohio.
“Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
Song Year: 1971
In the year 1971, the band Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young released their hit song “Ohio” from their album “4 Way Street.” The band wrote the song in response to a tragic event on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, during the year 1970.
The shooting resonated with the band, who penned the song to protest the actions that took place. The song gave hope and support to those involved and pushed those responsible to create change.
“Boy in Ohio” by Phil Ochs
Song Year: 1970
Another song released in the 1970s that gave a nod to the state of Ohio came in the form of “Boy in Ohio” by Phil Ochs. During his childhood, Ochs resided in Ohio and made many memories that would carry him through life. Even after moving to other states and years coming between his childhood and the present, he remembered many elements of that time.
To share the fondness that surrounds his earliest years, Ochs penned “Boy in Ohio” to be shared with others.
“Ohio Is for Lovers” by Hawthorne Heights
Song Year: 2004
In 2004 the pop rock band Hawthorne Heights released a song from their album “The Silence in Black and White.” The song, called “Ohio Is for Lovers,” has an emo twist and paints a picture of a new band that is going on tour while having to leave their girlfriends behind.
This song became the anthem of the band during their time in operation. While other states use the slogan, the band adapted it to fit their song and personal circumstances.
“Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National
Song Year: 2010
Indie band The National came out with the song “Bloodbuzz Ohio” in the year 2010. The song was featured on their album “High Violet.” While many songs about Ohio are positive in light, this specific one references a person who doesn’t have fond memories of their time in the Midwest state and takes to drinking to forget the details they remember.
This song by The National has gone on to be remade by several other bands since its release in 2010.
“Look at Miss Ohio” by Gillian Welch
Song Year: 2003
This poignant folk song came on the scene in 2003 by artist Gillian Welch. “Look at Miss Ohio” came from the “Soul Journey” album, and the song reflects that mentality. Many people share the sentiment that the grass is always greener on the other side. Sadly, most go on to realize that it isn’t true.
This song talks about the life of a beauty queen in Ohio and how judgment isn’t always necessary to see the various aspects of the story and situation.
“Oh, Cincinnati” by The Seedy Seeds
Song Year: 2009
As a bustling city in Ohio, Cincinnati is at the center of many stories and memories for a lot of people. The Seedy Seeds band released their music “Oh, Cincinnati” in 2009 from their album “Count the Days.”
This song shows how the residents of the city live their lives, going to the weekly market, admiring the mountains in the background, trips under the traffic tunnels, and the joy within the boundaries of the city.
“Ohio” by Damien Jurado
Song Year: 2014
The song “Ohio” by Damien Jurado comes from the artist’s album of the same name. The song pays homage to the state by talking about the feeling of homesickness that a person feels for the state they once called home.
Throughout the lyrics, the artist provides snippets of the life they once had and the reasons why they long to have those memories prevalent in their life once again.
“Look Out Cleveland” by The Band
Song Year: 1969
This song, referencing another popular city in the state of Ohio, talks about how quickly things can change in the blink of an eye, no matter where you are in life. Released in 1969, The Band placed this song on their album entitled “The Band” as well.
A hit when it was released, the song has been remade by several artists within the past 50 years.
“Four Days” by Counting Crows
Song Year: 1999
The Counting Crows have had many hit songs in their long tenure as a band. While it isn’t reflected in the title, “Four Days,” the group speaks about a long-distance relationship that has separated a couple. With one half of the couple in Ohio and the other in a faraway place, each person’s heart was split in two.
You can find this son on the band's album “This Desert Life.” The song has become a classic for the band and enjoys a lot of playtime today.
“Ohio” by Bowling For Soup
Song Year: 2004
Bowling For Soup was a popular punk rock band that made it big in the early 2000s. Their song “Ohio” made a name for them and could be found on many radio stations. The band tells a story of being in love with a girl that they felt to be remarkable. However, that individual fled to Ohio with another man.
The song continues to talk about how there is no hatred towards the state of Ohio and that there is a lot of good. However, they would still prefer that the one they loved return to them and leave Ohio.
“Hoopes I Did It Again” by Relient K
Song Year: 2003
The band Relient K has seen great success throughout the years. While you don’t know it right off the bat by looking at the title of this chosen song, it speaks to events that take place in Ohio. The story follows members of the band that set out for a day of activities in the city of Canton, Ohio.
The song was released on the band's album “Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…But Three Do.”
“Escape From Ohio” by Electric Six
Song Year: 2009
In the year 2009, the band Electric Six released the song “Escape From Ohio” from their album “Kill.” The song describes the band going on tour and the cities they travel through, including many in Ohio. Making their way through the Midwestern state, they see Bowling Green and a plethora of places that begin with the letter C.
At last, they make it to Michigan, followed by other states as they make their way to California.
“Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio” by John Denver
Song Year: 1975
An accomplished musician, John Denver played on many stages with a substantial amount of songs that he wrote and played. This song, in particular, released in 1975 on his album “An Evening with John Denver,” talks about a memorable Saturday evening that he spent while in Toledo, Ohio.
Throughout the song, Denver talks about how being in Toledo is like being nowhere at all but that there is beauty in the quiet and stillness.
“My City Was Gone” by The Pretenders
Song Year: 1983
While the song “My City Was Gone” by The Pretenders was initially released in 1983, it was remastered in 2007 after over 20 years. From their album “Learning To Crawl,” the band tells of how they returned to their hometown in Ohio, only to discover that it was nothing they remembered.
As they arrived, they saw that many of the things that were commonplace no longer existed. Additionally, many people had moved on, and the familiarity was gone.
“In Ohio on Some Steps” by Limbeck
Song Year: 2003
The band Limbeck released their song “In Ohio on Some Steps” from their album “Hi, Everything’s Great” in 2003. As the song continues, you understand that the individual at the story's center meets a girl in Ohio, but the details get blurred as the night goes on.
The artist goes on to sing that the events of that night in Ohio have aged them, and they feel a lot older as the next day comes.
“Youngstown” by Bruce Springsteen
Song Year: 2001
As another highly successful musical artist on this list, people around the world have heard countless hits on behalf of Bruce Springsteen. His song “Youngstown” from his album “The Ghost of Tom Joad” is no exception to that standard.
In this song, Springsteen talks about the history of the town of Youngstown, Ohio. Over several generations, he highlights the differences he has observed and the changes that have overcome what he knows of the town.
“Cuyahoga” by R.E.M
Song Year: 1986
From R.E.M’s album called “Lifes Rich Pageant” comes their song “Cuyahoga.” This song takes a stance on the pollution that takes place in the Cuyahoga River in Ohio. As a band, R.E.M. is known for advocating for change through their music.
The song also addresses the treatment of American Indians in the state. Still, it ends the song with notes of optimism for positive change and bringing everyone together to reform regulations and advocate for better outcomes.
“Cleveland Rocks” by Ian Hunter
Song Year: 1979
In 1979 the British musician Ian Hunter came out with their hit song “Cleveland Rocks” from the album “You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic.” The tune is an ode to the city of Cleveland, Ohio, where they have elevated its popularity by adopting it as their anthem.
You will often hear this positive reflection of Cleveland at city events and festivals. Because of the overwhelming support felt by the song, Ian Hunter was given recognition for his efforts with a key to the city by the mayor.
“Going to Cleveland” by The Mountain Goats
Song Year: 1993
From their album “Transmissions to Horace” comes The Mountain Goats Ohio-oriented song in “Going to Cleveland.” The tune centers around a couple who are splitting up due to one moving away from the city they currently reside in.
While the other person tries to guilt the singer into staying, he knows that he has to go and that the city of Cleveland is calling his name. He looks forward to seeing Cuyahoga and experiencing all that Cleveland offers its residents and visitors.
“O-H-I-O” by Ohio Players
Song Year: 1977
This song is highly unique, and once you hear it, you will never forget it. The Ohio Players released the tune “O-H-I-O” from their “Angel” album, and the words are like no other. Throughout the song, all you hear is like name of Ohio, whether it’s spelled out or read.
The peppy background music makes the song a fun one to dance to. The band has had many other hit songs, but none that are quite so eccentric as “O-H-I-O.”
“Girl From Ohio” by The Outlaws
Song Year: 1976
The band, The Outlaws, produced their own Ohio song in their tune “Girl From Ohio” that came off of their “Lady in Waiting” album. Released in 1976, the song follows a tale of the singer’s memories being triggered and remembering a person that meant a lot to him when he was in Ohio.
Going on, the song details the weather and how it is reminiscent of the period when he would fall into the arms of this girl he loved.
“In Ohio” by Joseph Arthur
Song Year: 2004
In 2004, Joseph Arthur turned out his song, “In Ohio.” In his personal nod to the beloved Midwestern state, he addresses in a brief 48 seconds that in Ohio, this person was born and how they will die alone. However, he will wait up.
This song, released on the artist's album “Our Shadows Will Remain,” is unlike other songs due to its brevity of less than one minute. Although short, the tune packs a powerful message for listeners.
“Ohio” by Modest Mouse
Song Year: 1996
Modest Mouse is a popular band among millennials. Their song “Ohio” from their album “This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About” became instantly popular among the band’s die-hard fans.
The song talks about a person who takes a bus from Ohio to Baltimore and references that there is a lot of detail that goes on behind the scenes that the song doesn’t address. Even so, the loneliness that the person feels is front and center.
“Dayton, Ohio – 1903” by Randy Newman
Song Year: 1972
Famous artist Randy Newman released a story through a song about a city in Ohio via “Dayton, Ohio – 1903” from his “Sail Away” album. While the story isn’t about him specifically, it talks about the memories one has of their life in this exact city in 1903.
Throughout the song, you hear references to past mannerisms, with time moving slower and people coming around more often just to say hello.
“Till I Die” by Machine Gun Kelly
Song Year: 2015
Machine Gun Kelly got his start in rapping while living outside of Cleveland, Ohio. After moving there in his teenage years, he got serious about his music career. As such, he credits the popular Ohio city with his success. He appreciates the support he got in Cleveland so much that his song “Till I Die” references his love for the area and what it gave to him.
This song is on Machine Gun Kelly’s album “General Admission.”
“South of Cincinnati” by Dwight Yoakam
Song Year: 1986
Dwight Yoakam is a well-known country artist that has turned out many hit songs throughout his life. His track “South of Cincinnati” from his album “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.” talks about a woman who lost the man she loved.
Every day she writes him letters telling him that they can be together again if he makes it back down to the South of Cincinnati. However, she never sends them. The man lives out his days in a dark apartment in Chicago, drunk and alone.
“Somewhere in Ohio” by The Jayhawks
Song Year: 2000
Although The Jayhawks are not from Ohio, they wanted to create a song to reference the state not far from their home of Minnesota. From their album “Smile,” The Jayhawks released the song “Somewhere in Ohio” in 2000. While the tune doesn’t reference many specific details about the Midwestern state, the band wanted to make it a fun jam to dance to.
When listening to the track, you can’t help but get up and move around, which was the goal of the musicians.
“O-Hi-O (O-My!-O!)” by Al Jolson
Song Year: 1921
This song came on the music scene over a century ago, in 1921. “O-Hi-O (O-My!-O!)” by Al Jolson comes from a Shellac album with the song “I Want To Go To The Land Where The Sweet Daddies Grow.” The song went on to have new versions made by other artists and was remastered several years after being released.
“Back Home” by The Beach Boys
Song Year: 1976
The Beach Boys are well known for their upbeat and rock folk style of music. One of their location-based songs is “Back Home” from their “15 Big Ones” album. Released in 1976, the song talks about their return to Ohio and seeing those they have known all their lives in the area where they grew up.
Many can relate to the sentimental feeling of returning to a place that was a significant element of their life and childhood, and this song embodies that emotion.
“Ohio” by The Black Keys
Song Year: 2011
The Black Keys band formed as a duo in Akron, Ohio. The state has since gone on to be a significant contributor to their success. From their album of the same name, they released their song “Ohio” in 2011.
Although the band credits their humble beginnings to their time in Ohio via their song, they did depart from their state of origin to further their music career shortly after finding fame.
“Lisbon, OH” by Bon Iver
Song Year: 2011
Bon Iver is an artist known for powerful instrumentals, and the album “Bon Iver, Bon Iver” includes multiple songs for different locations. While there are no lyrics, the song “Lisbon, OH” is in honor of the city that housed a friend of the band’s founder, who was in jail at the time of the song’s release.
During this time, the founder was writing letters back and forth to this friend, and the instrumental reflects the emotions of that period.
“Sleepless in Cincinnati” by Close to Home
Song Year: 2012
From the band's album “Momentum” comes the song “Sleepless in Cincinnati,” released in 2012. The song talks about the struggle of being separated from the person you love, with the mention of having many sleepless nights, presumably in Cincinnati.
Even though they are separated, they have a timeframe for reunification. As he struggles to sleep every night, the artist counts down the six weeks they have left apart.
“Ohio” by Andrew McMahon
Song Year: 2018
From his album “Upside Down Flowers” comes Andrew McMahon’s song “Ohio.” The story behind the song talks about a family leaving their home in Ohio for a new life in California. As the singer tells the story, it references how hard it is to leave and the emotions behind the move.
Even though emotions are high regarding the leap from Ohio to California, they understand that it is for the better, as they have left a lot of turmoil and mess behind.
“Road Outside Columbus” by O.A.R.
Song Year: 2003
The lead singer of O.A.R. paints a picture that many are familiar with in the song “Road Outside Columbus.” The lyrics delve into the subject of a specific road resonating with the singer because of how often he traveled down it. The singer also adds that the way of living in the Midwest differs significantly from what you get in other areas.
“Road Outside Columbus” is part of the band's album “In Between Now and Then.”
“Banks of the Ohio” by Joan Baez
Song Year: 1959
Joan Baez is an illustrious music artist whose career spans over 60 years. Her folk-style song “Banks of the Ohio” tells the tale of a life lived on a treasured body of water. However, the song takes a violent turn when a man kills the woman he loves on the bank of the Ohio.
The song was featured on her album “Folksingers ‘Round Harvard Square” and has remained a popular track in her live performances.
“Ohioisonfire” by Of Mice & Men
Song Year: 2011
Of Mice & Men is a popular band known for its eclectic mix of genres. Their song “Ohioisonfire” from the album “The Flood” was released in 2011 to an eagerly awaiting audience. While the song itself doesn’t call out Ohio, it talks about a person struggling internally, and the assumption is that they are in Ohio while it is taking place.
Since its release, many cover songs by other artists have popped up on the music scene.
Top Songs About Ohio, Final Thoughts
As the birthplace of a great deal of the country’s history, the state of Ohio has a deep background. Many musicians claim it as home and have paid homage through their songs and albums.
This guide of the best songs about Ohio gives you insight into people's various emotions about the cherished Midwest state.