Top 20 best Minnesota songs: The complete list

Categories: Lists
Tom_Waits_Andrew_Putler.jpg
Photo by Andrew Putler
Related:
Top 10 worst Minnesota songs
Top 20 best Minnesota musicians
First Avenue's 20 best concerts
First Avenue's 20 best concerts: Readers' picks

Countless songwriters have found inspiration in the Land of 10,000 Lakes over the years, and even more have hit upon something revelatory about Minnesota without ever becoming full-time residents. Sometimes these songs are backhanded compliments, and some are full-on gushfests set to shove "Hail! Minnesota" to the curb. Here are our picks for the finest of the umpteen tracks that wouldn't be the same without, ya know, us. --Reed Fischer




20. "Minneapolis" - The Ray Charles Singers

It's hard not to feel a little warm and fuzzy listening to this bubbly little number. By the first couple of bars, it's clear that this 1966 track does not feature the voice of the most famous man ever named Ray Charles -- the one once portrayed by Jamie Foxx in a feature film, the drinker of Diet Pepsi, and the one frequently nicknamed "the Genius." Instead, this Ray Charles is an accomplished songwriter from Chicago who also wrote "We're Gonna Win Twins" and the theme from Three's Company. (He did not, however, write The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme "Love Is All Around," which could've very well made this list too.) Here, "each season brings a new discovery," and this was easily enough to win a contest held by the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. A bit more of Charles' story is found on the Hymie's Vintage Records blog, and special thanks to Hymie's for providing the audio. --Reed Fischer



19. "Minnesoter" - The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols' Courtney Taylor-Taylor must have really known a girl from Minnesota and possibly embarked on quite a strange relationship with her. "With her shirt off, man her skin's soft/but in a mood, she'd rather if I jerked off" he says in one passage, illustrating the passive-aggressive nature of the natives here pretty well -- maybe it takes an outsider's perspective to explain that state-wide quirk so succinctly. This garage-rock gem is more fun to sing along with than just about anything else you can think of, and though they hail from Portland, any Minnesota mixtape you're thinking about making is incomplete without this song on it. --Pat O'Brien



18. "10,000 Lakes" - Kid Dakota

Darren Jackson has more power pop in his pinky than most of us do in our entire bodies, but he unplugs and slows things down on this pensive, wintry (in every sense of that word) offering from 2004's The West Is the Future. "I didn't come for ice fishin, I didn't come for duck huntin'/I'm not Scandinavian or in search of Paul Bunyan," he sings, and if you didn't come to Minnesota for those things it can seem incredibly isolating here at times, especially during the winters, which bring on those feelings of isolation tenfold, regardless of your pastimes. This song makes you want to don a parka even if it's 85 and sunny and, like Jackson, the thought of 10,000 lakes makes us feel smaller, too, but maybe those lakes are what keeps Minnesotans humble. --Pat O'Brien
My Voice Nation Help
4 comments
mksorenson
mksorenson

No "The Road Less Traveled" by the Unknown Prophets?

Nicole
Nicole

what about "1997" by Mason Jennings? Love that "Girl From North Country" was on here. I've always thought of Northern Minnesota while listening to that song. 

Dave Overlund
Dave Overlund

Wow. "Better Open the Door" by MCS definitely deserves a spot here. 

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...