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.”