What comes to mind when you think of Idaho? For some, it might be the vast stretches of open land, while others may think of its cold winters.
But for many music enthusiasts, Idaho holds a special place in their hearts. Some of the most iconic and influential songs in history mention Idaho.
Whether it’s the lyrics or the melody, this list of songs about Idaho captures the unique spirit of this great state. Let’s take a look.
1. “Private Idaho” by B-52s
“Private Idaho” is a hit song by the American new wave, post-punk band the B-52s. The song was released as a single in September 1980 from their second studio album, Wild Planet.
In an interview with the band, the song’s meaning speaks to people from different angles. It’s not a slight about the state but what Idaho or their piece of place means to them.
Others may believe there is a connection to the movie “My Own Private Idaho,” but the screen flick came many years after.
2. “Idaho” by BoDeans
The BoDeans are an American rock band from Wisconsin who released their song version of “Idaho” in 1993.
The song is about a man dreaming of a life in Idaho. There he can be free from the world’s problems, albeit the problems still exist.
The lyrics describe the idyllic beauty of Idaho and the breathtaking tranquility of a never-ending star-studded sky. It pertains to discovering the meaning of life.
“Idaho” is a classic example of the BoDeans’ brand of heartland rock, and it remains one of their most profound songs.
3. “Idaho” by Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons
While most people think of Franki Valli and the Four Seasons as a pop group from the 1960s, the band had many hits in the 1970s.
One of those hits was the song “Idaho.” Released in 1969, the B-song is a tribute to the quality of life in Idaho. It includes some beautiful imagery about the pleasure of the simple things in life.
In addition, the lyrics refer to enjoying the pleasures of family life and missing what once was. As a result, the song provides an excellent snapshot of what life in Idaho offers.
4. “Idaho” by Josh Ritter
If anyone has a front seat to life in Idaho, it belongs to Josh Ritter, an American singer-songwriter from Idaho.
His song “Idaho” is a ballad about a young man’s love for his home state and youth.
The song tells the story of a young man who leaves Idaho to seek his fortune elsewhere. He eventually realizes that he misses the simplicity and beauty of Idaho and a woman who continues to trespass on his memory.
Critics and people in the business praise the song for its lyrics and Ritter’s ability to capture the essence of Idaho in just a few chords.
5. “What’s Your Name” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Idaho is known for potatoes, a breathtaking landscape, and is the home of the Idaho National Laboratory. But few people understand the link between Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hit song “What’s Your Name.”
The apparent lyrics are about hooking up with a young woman, typical of the rock genre.
But the opening line, “it’s 8 o’clock in Boise, Idaho,” is about another band. Founder Ronnie Van Zant referred to his brother’s band .38 Special opening in Boise that night.
The original lyrics, “boys, it’s time to go,” became Boise, Idaho.
6. “Meet Me In McCall” by Brenn Hill
“Meet me in McCall” is a song written and performed by Brenn Hill with lyrics by Connie. This bittersweet country ballad accompanies Hill’s album “What’s a Man Got To Do”.
Meet Me in McCall is a tribute to his uncle, who died tragically. In the song, Brenn still dreams of riding with his uncle. The words depict a cowboy way of life, here and on the other side.
The sadness reverberates throughout the song and lyrics about how the two friends would meet again. McCall envisions them riding together if the past, or if the powers that be, had the will to change things.
It’s hard not to become emotionally entangled in this sorrowful tune.
7. “The Boise Song” by Jewel
Jewel’s song “The Boise Song” is a beautiful tribute to the city of Boise, Idaho.
The song, rarely performed in public, goes through the alphabet of cities and explains how residents of Boise prefer “Boy-see.” Boy-Zee” pronunciation is a bone of contention.
Interestingly, aside from Jewel’s rendition, a singer, Eileen Jewell, has a bigger claim to the song for having been born there.
Listening to Jewel’s cute ditty, her famous voice shines through, as does her sense of humor.
8. “Idaho” by Train
Released in 1998, the earthy and rustic sounding “Idaho” is a poetically resonating song by Train. The lyrics speak of the complications and dangers of states like Texas or dullsville like Florida.
Perhaps, composer Stafford allowed his experience or preconceived notions to dictate the words and the dangers he foretells.
In Idaho, however, the singer feels confident that nature will guide him toward his goal of moving away from prying eyes.
The melodramatic message is about self-discovery and finding a safe haven called home.
9. “Idaho” by Delta Spirit
The song “Idaho” by Delta Spirit is a raunchy, quick-tempered riff in the American Indie genre. It tells the story of a journey and fitting into your environment, no matter the stakes.
The lyrics are evocative, painting a picture of the rugged lifestyle and escaping the mundane. The song reflects on the idyllic simplicity of rural life and also about fitting in regardless of where you end up.
The band hails from California. They have undoubtedly experienced the rural effect of traveling, which includes overtures of locals picking out strangers and starting a brawl.
10. “Idaho State Fair” by Johnny Granger
You can’t complete a list of Idaho-themed songs without including an oldie. Johnny Granger personifies the cowboy lifestyle with this quirky and fun rendition about going to the state fair.
The song “Idaho State Fair” by Johnny Granger is a catchy tune that captures the excitement of the fairgrounds in this circa 1951 recording.
Some of the lyrics are eyebrow-raising. The gist describes various attractions at the fair, including a pretty woman who turns the heads of all the Stetson-wearing cowboys.
Overall, “Idaho State Fair” is a fun and upbeat song that captures the spirit of the fair and the era although to modern ears it doesn’t play as well.
Summing Up Our List Of Idaho Themed Songs
While Idaho may be best known for its potatoes, the Gem State has also given rise to some of the most iconic songs in American music history.
From B-52s “Private Idaho to Jewel belting out her endearing rendition of “Boise” in her live performance, Idaho sings.
Regardless of geographical advantages or disadvantages, Idaho influences new generations of musicians and fans alike.
Lyrics are sometimes open to interpretation and reading between the lines to catch the feeling.