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South Dakota, with its stunning natural landscapes, rich history, and unique culture, has inspired many musicians to write songs that capture the spirit of the state. From classic country ballads to contemporary indie rock anthems, there are countless songs that celebrate the beauty and complexity of South Dakota.
In this article, we will explore the 10 best songs about South Dakota, each one capturing a different aspect of this fascinating state. These songs range from joyful odes to the state’s natural beauty, to reflections on the challenges faced by those who call South Dakota home. Some are rooted in the state’s rich Native American heritage, while others capture the energy and vitality of its vibrant cities and towns.
Whether you are a South Dakota native, a visitor, or simply a lover of great music, these songs are sure to inspire and entertain you, while offering a unique window into the heart and soul of this amazing state. So sit back, relax, and let the music take you on a journey through the hills and prairies of South Dakota.
1. “South Dakota Morning” by Bee Gees
“South Dakota Morning” by the Bee Gees is a hauntingly beautiful ballad that evokes feelings of melancholy and nostalgia. The song’s gentle acoustic guitar and delicate piano create a soft and dreamy atmosphere, while the Bee Gees’ trademark harmonies add depth and emotion to the lyrics. The song tells the story of a lost love and the painful memories that linger on. The singer recalls a time when he and his lover were happy and carefree, wandering through the fields of South Dakota on a lazy summer morning. But now, everything has changed, and he is left alone with only his memories to keep him company. The poignant lyrics and wistful melody make “South Dakota Morning” a moving and unforgettable piece of music that speaks to the heart.
2. “Deadwood, South Dakota” by Nanci Griffith
“Deadwood, South Dakota” by Nanci Griffith is a beautiful and poignant folk song that tells the story of the town of Deadwood, South Dakota, and its turbulent history. The song begins with a description of the town’s violent past, including the infamous murder of Wild Bill Hickok, before moving on to the present day and the changes that have taken place in Deadwood over time. Griffith’s delicate voice is accompanied by gentle acoustic guitar and mandolin, creating a melancholy and reflective mood that perfectly suits the song’s lyrical themes. The chorus, with its soaring harmonies and bittersweet melody, is particularly powerful, conveying both the beauty and the sadness of this once-great frontier town. Overall, “Deadwood, South Dakota” is a haunting and evocative song that captures the spirit of a place and a time in history with grace and sensitivity.
3. “Hills of South Dakota” by Becky Schlegel
“Hills of South Dakota” by Becky Schlegel is a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to the stunning landscape of the South Dakota hills. The song begins with Schlegel’s gentle voice accompanied by acoustic guitar, creating an intimate and introspective mood that perfectly matches the song’s lyrical themes. As the song progresses, Schlegel’s voice soars higher and higher, expressing a sense of awe and wonder at the natural beauty of the hills. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of the landscape, with its rolling hills, golden fields, and endless skies. The chorus, with its lush harmonies and soaring melody, is particularly powerful, conveying a sense of joy and freedom that comes from being surrounded by such magnificent scenery. Overall, “Hills of South Dakota” is a beautiful and inspiring song that captures the essence of this unique and beautiful part of the country.
4. “South Dakota” by Afroman
“South Dakota” by Afroman is a lively and humorous song that celebrates the state of South Dakota in a light-hearted and irreverent way. The song’s funky beat and catchy melody are accompanied by Afroman’s distinctive vocals, which are full of witty one-liners and humorous observations about life in South Dakota. The lyrics touch on a range of topics, from the state’s harsh winters to its famous landmarks, such as Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. Afroman’s playful delivery and clever wordplay make the song both entertaining and memorable, with lines like “I went to South Dakota, saw Mount Rushmore, it looked like four dudes who lost a bet.” Overall, “South Dakota” is a fun and upbeat song that celebrates the unique character and charm of this Midwestern state.
5. “Kadoka, South Dakota” by The Living Sisters
“Kadoka, South Dakota” by The Living Sisters is a soulful and nostalgic song that pays tribute to the small town of Kadoka in South Dakota. The song’s gentle acoustic guitar and harmonica create a mellow and reflective mood, while the sisters’ harmonies add depth and emotion to the lyrics. The song tells the story of a woman who has left Kadoka and is now looking back on her memories of the town with a sense of longing and regret. The lyrics describe the town’s simple charms, from the old grain elevator to the small church on the hill, and the singer’s voice is filled with a sense of nostalgia for the place she once called home. The chorus, with its soaring harmonies and bittersweet melody, is particularly powerful, capturing both the beauty and the sadness of this small town in South Dakota. Overall, “Kadoka, South Dakota” is a moving and heartfelt tribute to the power of memory and the beauty of the Midwestern landscape.
6. “I Gotta Gal I Love (In North And South Dakota)” by Frank Sinatra
“I Gotta Gal I Love (In North And South Dakota)” by Frank Sinatra is a charming and upbeat song that celebrates love in the great plains of North and South Dakota. The song’s bouncy melody and lively brass instrumentation create a fun and playful mood, while Sinatra’s smooth vocals add a touch of romance and nostalgia to the lyrics. The song tells the story of a man who has found love in two different Dakotas, and is torn between the two women. The lyrics describe the beauty of the Dakotas, from the rolling hills to the wide-open spaces, and the singer’s voice is filled with a sense of joy and excitement for the life he has found in these two states. The chorus, with its catchy refrain and lively horns, is particularly memorable, conveying both the singer’s love for his two women and his love for the Dakotas themselves. Overall, “I Gotta Gal I Love (In North And South Dakota)” is a fun and lighthearted song that celebrates the beauty of the Dakotas and the power of love.
7. “Misfits” by Neil Young
“Misfits” by Neil Young is a haunting and introspective song that explores the themes of alienation, loneliness, and the struggle to find a place in the world. The song’s slow and mournful melody is accompanied by Young’s distinctively plaintive vocals and simple acoustic guitar, creating a sparse and intimate mood that perfectly suits the song’s lyrical themes. The lyrics describe a sense of isolation and disconnection from society, as the singer reflects on his status as an outsider and a misfit. The chorus, with its repeating refrain of “we are misfits living in a world on fire,” is particularly powerful, conveying both the singer’s sense of estrangement and his deep yearning for connection and acceptance. Overall, “Misfits” is a beautiful and deeply affecting song that speaks to the universal human experience of feeling lost and alone in a world that can often seem cold and unforgiving.
8. “South Dakota” by Jakey
“South Dakota” by Jakey is a dreamy and nostalgic song that captures the sense of longing and yearning that comes from being far away from home. The song’s laid-back beat and ethereal synths create a dreamlike and introspective mood, while Jakey’s gentle vocals add a sense of vulnerability and emotion to the lyrics. The song tells the story of a person who has left South Dakota and is now living elsewhere, but who still feels a deep connection to their home state. The lyrics describe the natural beauty of South Dakota, from the endless skies to the rolling hills, and the singer’s voice is filled with a sense of longing and nostalgia for the place they once called home. The chorus, with its repeating refrain of “South Dakota, oh how I miss ya,” is particularly poignant, conveying the deep sense of homesickness and yearning that the singer feels for their hometown. Overall, “South Dakota” is a beautiful and evocative song that captures the bittersweet experience of leaving home and the power of place to shape our identities and emotions.
“Big Foot” by Johnny Cash is a rollicking and humorous song that tells the story of a man who encounters the legendary creature known as Bigfoot. The song’s upbeat tempo and lively guitar riff create a fun and playful mood, while Cash’s distinctive vocals add a sense of mischief and irreverence to the lyrics. The song describes the man’s encounter with Bigfoot, from the creature’s massive size and hairy appearance to the fear and wonder that the man feels in its presence. The lyrics are full of tongue-in-cheek humor, with lines like “He was big and hairy, and I tell you what / He smelled like he ain’t had a bath in a hundred years or not,” adding to the song’s lighthearted tone. The chorus, with its catchy refrain of “Bigfoot, Bigfoot, he’s the king of the forest,” is particularly memorable, conveying both the man’s awe and respect for the creature and his sense of humor about the situation. Overall, “Big Foot” is a fun and playful song that combines Cash’s signature storytelling with a sense of humor and whimsy.
10. “Rapid City, South Dakota” by Dwight Yoakam
“Rapid City, South Dakota” by Dwight Yoakam is a country rock song that pays tribute to the city of Rapid City in South Dakota. The song’s upbeat tempo, twangy guitar riffs, and driving rhythm create a lively and energetic mood, while Yoakam’s distinctive vocals add a sense of urgency and intensity to the lyrics. The song describes the city of Rapid City, from its stunning natural beauty to its thriving music scene and bustling nightlife. The lyrics also touch on the challenges and hardships faced by those who call the city home, from the harsh winters to the economic struggles of the working class. The chorus, with its repeating refrain of “Rapid City, Rapid City, why you gotta be so hard on me,” is particularly powerful, conveying both the singer’s love for the city and his frustration with its difficulties. Overall, “Rapid City, South Dakota” is a dynamic and heartfelt tribute to a unique and vibrant city, capturing both its beauty and its challenges in a way that is both authentic and moving.