Colorado History

The Ten Best Songs About Colorado

Townes Van Zandt thinking about a "Colorado Girl."
Townes Van Zandt thinking about a "Colorado Girl." YouTube
This state has inspired a lot of creativity, including many songs.

Here are the ten best songs written about Colorado (and no, the list does not include "Rocky Mountain High"):

“Colorado Girl”
Townes Van Zandt

The late Townes Van Zandt is among the best singer-songwriters ever to draw breath, and his rhapsody about “goin’ out to Denver” to find “that lovin’ Colorado girl of mine” whose smile “shames the mountains tall” couldn’t be lovelier.

“Crystal Colorado”
Alpha Rev

Alpha Rev is an Austin band led by Casey McPherson, and the combo’s reference to our fair state is metaphorical rather than literal: “I need a castle in the air/Like a crystal Colorado, you take me there.” But what an apt metaphor it is.

“Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead”
Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon paints the Mile High City with a noir brush that could hardly be more vivid — particularly with the verse in which he enthuses, “You won’t need a cab to find a priest/Maybe you should find a place to stay/Someplace where they never change the sheets/And you just roll around Denver all day.”

“Colorado Kool-Aid”
Johnny Paycheck

Johnny Paycheck’s shaggy-dog tale is a marvelous memento from an era when Coors was a mythical commodity to most folks east of the Mississippi rather than a beer that can be purchased anywhere at any time. Inspirational description: “Well, it’s a can of Coors brewed from a mountain stream/It’ll set your head on fire and make your kidneys scream.”

“Colder Weather”
Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown’s evocative ballad tells the story of a guy who walked away from a woman who promised to “trade Colorado if he’d take her with him.” Instead, he moves on, only to regret his choice: “He thinks of Colorado/And the girl he left behind.” Big mistake, dumbass.

“Lucky Denver Mint”
Jimmy Eat World

An actual hit during the late 1990s, this relentlessly catchy earworm finds Jimmy Eat World lead singer Jimmy Adkins making a wish on the Denver Mint. Granted, the only currency he references is “a dollar under water,” not the pennies that remain the institution’s specialty. But the song still pays dividends more than two decades later.

Florida Georgia Line

This is bro country guaranteed to get the party started on multiple levels. “Well, I got friends from Colorado/I got friends from Tennessee,” bandmembers Brian Kelly and Tyler Hubbard enthuse — and in tribute to both locations, they salute “something in a bottle” (Jack Daniel’s) and “something from a seed” that will produce a “Rocky Mountain high” (you know what they’re talking about).

“Get Out of Denver”
Bob Seger

Seger’s classic rave-up is filled with rich detail — not just a trip over Loveland Pass in a ’60s-vintage Cadillac, but a disapproving “Colorado state policeman trooper cat” who orders our hero to get the hell out of town because he looks just like a Commie and he might just be a member. Now, everybody’s welcome — as proven by the pre-pandemic traffic on Interstate 70.

“My Crime”
Canned Heat

During the late 1960s, Canned Heat, a blues-rock combo best known for “Going Up the Country,” a Woodstock Nation theme song, booked a gig at the late, lamented Family Dog that went south fast, thanks to a drug bust that haunted the members for years. Throughout “My Crime,” you can still feel their frustration over the fact that “the police in Denver/Lord, they don’t want none of them longhairs hanging around.”

“Rocky Mountain Way”
Joe Walsh

Nowhere in Joe Walsh’s indelible groove monster does he mention Colorado. But the tune has been adopted by the state in general and the Colorado Rockies in particular, thanks to the lines “Bases are loaded/And Casey’s at bat/Playin’ it play by play/Time to change the batter.” The sound of a Rockies win — and the Colorado way of life.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts