From the state's natural beauty to its rich history, Oregon has long been a source of inspiration for musicians. This article will explore some of the best songs about Oregon, from classic rock anthems to indie folk ballads. Whether you're a native Oregonian or just visiting, these songs will give you a glimpse into the state's unique spirit.
1. “I Must Be in Oregon” by Greg Brown
Song Year: 1999
“I Must Be in Oregon” is a song by Greg Brown and released on his 1992 album “Solid Heart.”
The song is a humorous ode to the state of Oregon, with Brown singing about the rain, the mountains, the wildlife, and the people of Oregon.
It's also a love letter to the state, with Brown expressing his appreciation for its beauty.
2. “Rose Parade” by Elliot Smith
Song Year: 1997
“Rose Parade” is a song by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, released in 1997 as the seventh track on the acclaimed album “Either/Or.”
It's a slow, acoustic ballad featuring a simple melody and Smith's characteristically introspective lyrics.
The song's title refers to the annual Portland Rose Festival, but the lyrics are about putting on a false personality like it's a parade.
3. “So Long, Astoria” by The Ataris
Song Year: 2003
“So Long, Astoria” is a song by American rock band The Ataris, a power ballad with a slow tempo and a nostalgic melody.
The song's lyrics are about Roe's childhood memories of growing up in a small town, and they are also about the importance of family and friends.
It references the town of Astoria, Oregon, the setting for the 1985 film The Goonies, a favorite film of the singers.
4. “Don't Take Me Alive” by Steely Dan
Song Year: 1976
“Don't Take Me Alive” is a song by the American rock band Steely Dan, released in 1976.
Written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, it features a jazzy melody and a darkly humorous lyric about a man holed up in a hotel room with a case of dynamite.
The narrator talks about his past in Oregon and how people shouldn't cross him.
5. “Doom Town” by The Wipers
Song Year: 1983
“Doom Town” is a song by the American punk rock band The Wipers, released in 1983 on their album Over the Edge.
The song is a slow, atmospheric ballad with a dark and brooding melody, and the lyrics are about a dystopian city where people are trapped and hopeless.
The band's lead singer, Greg Sage, who grew up in Portland, wrote the lyrics. He saw a lot of poverty and despair in the city and wanted to write a song about it.
6. “Portland” by The Replacements
Song Year: 1988
“Portland” is a song by the American rock band The Replacements, released in 1988 on their album Don't Tell a Soul.
It's a slow, acoustic ballad with a simple melody and Paul Westerberg's characteristically introspective lyrics.
The track is an apology to the city of Portland, Oregon, for a drunken and chaotic performance that the band gave in Portland on December 7, 1987.
7. “Oregon Girl” by Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin
Song Year: 2005
The indie rock hit “Oregon Girl” is by the band Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin.
It came out in 2005 as the leading single from their second album, Broom, and the song is about a man in love with an Oregon girl.
The song's lyrics describe the man's admiration for the girl's beauty, sense of adventure, and connection to the natural world.
8. “Light Rail Coyote” by Sleater-Kinney
Song Year: 2002
This list would be incomplete without mentioning a song by Sleater-Kinney, an iconic punk rock band from Washington and based in Portland, Oregon.
“Light Rail Coyote” is a fun, upbeat track about a coyote who rides the light rail in Portland. The song is about the coyote's journey through the city, and the lyrics explore themes of urban alienation and the natural world.
9. “Rose City Blues” by Todd Snider
Song Year: 2002
“Rose City Blues” is a slow, mellow song by the American singer-songwriter Todd Snider. A love letter to Portland, Oregon, the words are full of vivid imagery and nostalgia.
Snider sings about the city's history, people, and culture and his connection to the area. The song is both a celebration of the city's flaws and a reminder of its beauty.
10. “Everyone Knows Everyone” by The Helio Sequence
Song Year: 2004
“Everyone Knows Everyone” is by the American indie rock band The Helio Sequence.
The vibey, chill tune is about Beavertown, a small town in Oregon, and the sense of community in rural areas.
“Everyone Knows Everyone” is a song that captures the spirit of small-town America. It is a song about a place where people know each other, care about each other, and proudly call it home.
11. “Portland, Oregon” by Loretta Lynn and Jack White
Song Year: 2004
“Portland, Oregon” is a song written and recorded by the country singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn. The song is a duet with rock musician Jack White and came out in 2004.
The song is about a woman reflecting on a relationship in Portland, Oregon. The song's lyrics describe the woman's longing for the man, speaking about love, loss, and hope.
“Portland, Oregon” won a Best Song Collaboration Grammy in 2005.
12. “Portland Water” by Michael Hurley
Song Year: 1995
“Portland Water” is a song by the American folk singer-songwriter Michael Hurley. It landed in 1995 as part of his album “Wolfways.” The song is about the water in Portland, Oregon, celebrating the city's natural beauty.
Hurley sings about the water's many moods, from gentle waves to powerful storms. He also sings about the people who live in Portland and how they are all connected to the water.
13. “Ain't it Fresh (The Oregon Song)” by Alcyon Massive
Song Year: 2009
“Ain't it Fresh (The Oregon Song)” is a song by the American reggae/hip hop group Alcyon Massive. It landed in 2009 on their album Dreaming The World Awake.
The track is a celebration of the state's natural beauty and a reminder of its importance to the people there, whether native to Oregon or new inhabitants of the great state.
14. “Caldera, Oregon” by Laura Gibson
Song Year: 2016
Laura Gibson wrote this folk tune in 2016 for her album Empire Builder.
The song is about the town of Caldera, Oregon, in the shadow of Mount Mazama, a volcano that erupted about 7,700 years ago.
“Caldera, Oregon” is a song that captures the small town's spirit. It's a mellow, nostalgic track about a beautiful and flawed town. But it's ultimately about a place that is loved.
15. “The City of Roses” by Esperanza Spalding
Song Year: 2012
“The City of Roses” is a song by American singer-songwriter Esperanza Spalding. She released it in 2012 as the second single from her album Radio Music Society.
Spalding is from Portland and sings about her upbringing on the track. She also references her longing for the city but concludes that it's always with her no matter how far she travels.
16. “Back to Oregon” by Broadway Calls
Song Year: 2007
“Back to Oregon” is a song by the American melodic hardcore band Broadway Calls. It came out in 2007 on their album “Broadway Calls.”
The track has a soft metal vibe, and the lyrics are reminiscent of days spent in Oregon and in love with a girl.
Ty Vaughn and Matt Koenig provide vocals, talking about traveling around the country and just wanting to return to their home state of Oregon.
17. “Eugene, Oregon” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1972
Dolly Parton is famously an American country singer, but the artist loves the Pacific Northwest. She released this song in 2009 for her album “Dolly.” It was previously an unreleased track, originally from 1972.
“Eugene, Oregon” is a homage to the town, which Parton toured in the 1970s. Parton's lyrics paint a picture of a vibrant and welcoming city full of friendly people and picturesque scenery.
18. “Twin Rocks, Oregon” by Shawn Mullins
Song Year: 1998
“Twin Rocks, Oregon” is a song by American singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins. He dropped the track in 1998 on his album “Soul's Core.”
The song is about a man who's driving through Oregon. He comes across a small town called Twin Rocks and makes a friend among the town's inhabitants.
“Twin Rocks, Oregon” is a homage to the rural towns of Oregon and a reminder that there are friendly people and natural beauty outside the cities.
19. “Lumberjack” by Johnny Cash
Song Year: 1960
“Lumberjack” is a 1960 song recorded by American country music singer Johnny Cash and co-written with Merle Kilgore. The song is about loggers and lumberjacks in Rosenburg and Eugene, Oregon, and it's a classic track with an old-West feel.
This track is a celebration of the American worker, and it is one of Cash's most popular songs.
It was a commercial success, reaching number 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
20. “Coming Home (Oregon)” by Mat Kearney
Song Year: 2015
Mat Kearney is a musician based in Nashville, known for his Christian folk-pop hits. However, he's originally from Eugene, Oregon, and he reminds listeners while singing on this nostalgic track from his 2015 album, Just Kids.
The song is about Kearney's return to his home state of Oregon after being away for a while.
Kearney sings about the things he misses about Oregon, from the mountains and forests to the people and the food.
21. “Dream of the '90s” by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein
Song Year: 2011
“Dream of the '90s” is a song by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, performed by their characters on the IFC sketch comedy series Portlandia.
The song is a satirical take on the nostalgia for the 1990s in Portland, and it pokes fun at the idea that the decade was a simpler, more carefree time in the city.
The song's lyrics are full of references to 1990s culture, including grunge music, flannel shirts, and thrift stores.
Top Songs About Oregon, Final Thoughts
The songs of Oregon reflect the state's unique character, from the area's rural beauty to the bustling city of Portland. Whether you're looking for a song to sing along to while driving down the coast or a ballad to reflect on while gazing at the stars, you'll find something to love in the best songs about Oregon.