Ten Songs About Phoenix, Arizona


Phoenix, Arizona, may not be known as the songwriter's muse, but the city does have its fair share of mentions in the annals of music history. The city is most likely to be given a send up by country singers and is often mentioned as a place of refuge after having one's heart broken. Here are ten songs about Phoenix, Arizona.

Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone, Charley Pride (1970)

Charley Pride was one of the few African-Americans to have considerable success in country music. In the mid-1970s, he became the best-selling performer for RCA Records since Elvis Presley. In this song, the singer laments being done wrong by his lady and wishes he could escape to Phoenix or pretty much anywhere.



Hey Willie, Waylon Jennings (1988)

Country legend Waylon Jennings spent some time in Arizona. He married his first wife, Maxine, in 1956 at the age of eighteen. Maxine's father was ill, so they moved to Coolidge, Arizona where Jennings had a job on the radio. He played at clubs, drive-in theaters, and bars all around Phoenix and Scottsdale where earned a strong local fan-base before he signed a record contract in 1961.



Bobby in Phoenix, Gorillaz (feat. Bobby Womack) (2010)

Beloved soul singer and guitarist Bobby Womack worked on several songs with Gorillaz, a virtual group lead by Blur frontman Damon Albarn. Womack's career had been off-and-on since his struggle with drug addiction in the late 1980s, but his daughter convinced him to work with Gorillaz. The band told him to sing whatever he wanted and the result sounds like a forlorn love song to the city.



Little Egypt, The Coasters (1962)

The song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller was recorded by The Coasters for their 1962 album, Coast Along with the Coasters and tells the story of how the singer met his exotic dancing wife.



By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Glen Campbell (1967)

By the Time I Get to Phoenix was written by Jimmy Webb. The inspiration for the song came from a breakup and it describes the singer leaving his girl a goodbye letter that she won't find until he's long gone. Although the song was originally recorded by Johnny Rivers in 1965, Glen Campbell's cover of the song reached number two on Billboard's Hot Country Singles Chart and won two Grammys.



Comin' to Your City, Big and Rich (2005)

This song written and recorded by American country music duo Big & Rich reached number 21 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart. A version of the song is used as the theme song for ESPN's College GameDay, but the ESPN version has references to several college football teams in the lyrics which do not appear in the original song.


Tune Out, The Format (2003)

While the song doesn't mention Phoenix by name, the band hails from Peoria, Arizona and gave a shout-out to valley traffic on I-51.



Stays in Mexico, Toby Keith (2004)

The song tells the story of an insurance salesman from South Dakota and a school teacher from Phoenix who engage in a tequila-fueled affair while vacationing without their spouses in Cabo San Lucas. The song chorus repeats that "what happens down in Mexico, stays in Mexico."



Rock'n Me, Steve Miller Band (1976)

Steve Miller wrote the song which became the band's second #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has remained popular on classic rock stations for nearly forty years. Miller wrote the song to open for Pink Floyd in London and has said, "it was a big, huge outdoor show so we needed a big rock and roll number that was really going to excite everybody. I just put it together and didn't think much about it."



By The Time I Get to Arizona, Public Enemy (1991)

While the song doesn't mention Phoenix specifically, this song played an important role in Arizona state history. One of Governor Evan Mecham's first acts when he took office in 1987 was to cancel a paid Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday for state employees saying, "You folks don't need another holiday. What you need are jobs." On November 6, 1990, the people of Arizona voted down a proposal to reinstate the state holiday and Public Enemy responded with this song and the accompanying video, which culminates in Chuck D detonating a car bomb to assassinate Mecham. It aired on MTV just once in 1991 before being pulled for violent content. While it's run on music television was short-lived, it did get attention. The NFL pulled the 1993 Super Bowl from Tempe, Arizona. Thousands of conventions and tourists boycotted the state, resulting in an estimated $350 million in lost revenues until voters reinstated the holiday with a 1993 vote.

(Warning Explicit Lyrics & Violence)



Janet Berry-Johnson has called Scottsdale home for two years. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a freelance writer, regularly contributing to Scottsdale Moms Blog.