Arkansas Heritage Month – “Little Rock” Songs

Monroe RussellThe Capital City has popped up in a variety of songs in different genres over the years.  Today we look at five notable instances.

Collin Raye’s 1994 song “Little Rock” peaked at Number 2 on the Billboard Country charts and was Number 14 for the entire year.  Found on Raye’s album Extremes, it was written by Tom Douglas.  The song centers on a man who is trying to rebuild his life after battles with alcohol have affected his marriage.

Notable lyric: “I think I’m on a roll here in Little Rock.”


Hayes Carll’s take on Arkansas’ capital is also known as “Little Rock.” It was his title track from the 2005 album.  It tells the tale of a man who has traveled all over the US and is excited to make it back to Little Rock. With a driving country-rock beat, it typifies Carll’s style of music which has one foot squarely in both camps as a singer-songwriter.

Notable lyric: “All of my life I’ve tried to find/ “a piece of this earth for my peace of mind.”


Leo Robin and Jule Styne wrote the 1949 song “Little Girl from Little Rock” for their Broadway musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  Introduced by Carol Channing, it told of quintessential 1920s vamp Lorelei Lee’s rise from “the wrong side of the tracks” to Manhattan’s elite neighborhoods.  It has remained part of Channing’s repertoire in nightclubs and concerts.  In 1953, it was retooled with sanitized lyrics and made into a duet for Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in the film version of the musical.

Notable lyric: “Then someone broke my heart in Little Rock/and I up and left old Arkansas.”


Little Rock has also appeared in several “List songs” including “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Originally written with Australian place names in 1959, it was adapted to North American places in 1962 by Hank Snow. Arkansan Johnny Cash recorded it in 1996.

Little Rock appears in the second verse: “Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa,”


Billy Joel’s 1989 “We Didn’t Start the Fire” contains three references to Little Rock. In the first section’s look at 1949, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific is mentioned.  With a heroine from Little Rock, this musical was the most popular show on Broadway during the 1948-1949 and 1949-1950 Broadway seasons.  The second comes in the 1953 portion with “Rockefeller” which referenced playboy Winthrop Rockefeller’s abandonment of New York City for Arkansas. He had residences in both Little Rock and on Petit Jean Mountain. The final entry came in 1957, when Joel references the Central High integration crisis with the lyric “Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac, Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, Bridge on the River Kwai.”


2nd Day of Arkansas Sounds: Collin Raye and others fill stage for over 10 hours

arkansas_sounds_2013The second annual Arkansas Sounds Music Festival continues today. The Saturday venue is the First Security Amphitheatre in Riverfront Park.   Arkansas Sounds Music Festival is a FREE event open to the public. Donations can be made to help support the festival.  Though it is free, and no tickets are issued, there are space limitations, so attendance is on a first come, first serve basis.

The day starts out with The Sound of the Mountain (12 noon), The 1 oz. Jig (1pm), Messy Sparkles (2:15pm), Big Piph (3:30pm), War Chief (4:45), Mountain Sprout (6pm), Bonnie Montgomery (7:15pm), Glen Campbell Tribute (8:30pm) and Collin Raye (9:30pm).

Born Floyd Elliot Wray on August 22, 1960 in De Queen, country artist Collin Raye was one of the true hit makers of the 1990’s. Collin still continues to crank out soulful, heartfelt material with the honesty and richness that is signature to his vocals alone. With 24 top ten records, 16 #1 hits, and having been a 10 time male vocalist of the year nominee (5 CMA and 5 ACM), this truly electrifying performer of his era remains one of the great voices of our time.


Arkansas Sounds lineup announced

arkansas_sounds_2013There’s something about the Arkansas River that makes free live music sound even better. DeQueen native Collin Raye and a tribute to Delight native Glen Campbell will headline the Arkansas Sounds Music Festival, a free annual event hosted by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, a department of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS). On Friday and Saturday, September 27-28, the festival will feature Arkansas music and musicians both past and present at programs for all age groups at the River Market Pavilions, First Security Amphitheatre, and the Main Library.

Music in a large variety of genres and styles will showcase Arkansans’ love of music.

Friday, September 27 at the River Market Pavilions

Time Band Musical Genre
6 p.m. The Smittle Band jazzy Americana
7:15 p.m. Tav Falco & Panther Burns southern gothic roots/rockabilly
8:30 p.m. Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks gypsy jazz

Saturday – First Security Amphitheatre

Noon The Sound of the Mountain instrumental progressive rock
1 p.m. The 1 oz. Jig funk
2:15 p.m. Messy Sparkles electro-pop one man DJ
3:30 p.m. Big Piph (Epiphany) progressive hip-hop
4:45 p.m. War Chief Americana rock and roll
6 p.m. Mountain Sprout hillbilly bluegrass
7:15 p.m. Bonnie Montgomery country honky tonk
8:30 p.m. Glen Campbell Tribute
9:30 p.m. Collin Raye modern country

Three programs for children and teens are scheduled at the Main Library beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 28.

10:30 a.m. Ages Up to 6 years The Kinders Concert 3rd Floor Youth Services
1 p.m. Ages 7-12 Hip Hop Songwriting and Production workshop Level 4 Teen Center
2 p.m. Ages 13-19 Hip Hop Songwriting and Production workshop Level 4 Teen Center

Additional programs are scheduled during September at different venues in downtown Little Rock.

Friday, Sept. 13 – 5 p.m.
Second Friday Art Night performance by Michael Carenbauer
Butler Center Galleries, 401 President Clinton Avenue

Thursday Sept. 19 6 p.m.
Cocktail party to celebrate the release of Encyclopedia of Arkansas Music
Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street

Monday, Sept. 23  6 p.m.
Songwriters Showcase
Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street

Tuesday, Sept. 24  7 p.m.
Performance honoring Clark Terry
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 501 W. 9th Street

Thursday, Sept. 26 6 p.m.
Tav Falco book signing, with the Arkansas Literary Festival
Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street

The Arkansas Sounds Music Festival and all related events are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule, see To volunteer for the Arkansas Sounds Music Festival, contact Angela Delaney at or 918-3095. For more information, visit