Songs About Cleveland and Northeast Ohio

We may not have romantic ballads like "I left my heart in San Francisco" or iconic anthems like "New York New York," but Cleveland has had plenty of songs written about her. Below are just a few.

"Cleveland Rocks" by Ian Hunter

Released in 1979 as part of Ian Hunter's "You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic" album, "Cleveland Rocks" has become the city's anthem. WMMS used to play it in the radio station's heyday, and you'll hear it after Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers victories.
Numerous artists have covered the song, most notably the Presidents of the United States in 1997 for the opening song for "The Drew Carey Show."

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"Youngstown" by Bruce Springsteen


Bruce Springsteen penned "Youngstown" in 1995, as part of his "The Ghost of Tom Joad" album. The nearly four-minute song tells the story of Youngstown, from the discovery of iron ore to the fall of the steel mills.

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"My City Was Gone" by The Pretenders

This anthem about urban decay was written by Akron native Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders in 1982 about her hometown. The song appeared on the group's "Learning to Crawl" album.

"Cuyahoga" by REM

The Atlanta-based group R.E.M. recorded the song "Cuyahoga" on their "Life's Rich Pageant" album in 1986. It tells the story of the burning river.

"My Town" by Michael Stanley

Cleveland's hometown rocker, Michael Stanley wrote about the city with "My Town" in 1983, a part of the Michael Stanley Band's "You Can't Fight Fashion" album. The song rose to #39 on the US Billboard chart.

"Ohio" by Neil Young

Atlantic Records

"Ohio" is Neil Young's (then with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) reaction to the Kent State shooting on May 4, 1970. Released in June of 1970, the song protests the soldiers and government involvement that tragic day. It was released as a single and later appeared on the group's "So Far" album in 1974 and Young's 1977 "Decade" album.

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"Skinny Little Kid" by Alex Bevan

Little Fish Records

Northeast Ohio folk rocker, Alex Bevan released "Skinny Little Kid" in 1976 as part of his "Springboard" album. It was to become his most popular song and a tribute to growing up on the North Coast.

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"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot


This 1976 folk ballad tells the story of Great Lakes ore freighter, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank with all the crew aboard on November 10, 1975 in Lake Superior. The ship was a frequent visitor to northern Ohio's Lake Erie ports and headed to Cleveland that November. Seven members of the ill-fated crew were from Northeast Ohio.

Canadian, Gordon Lightfoot recorded the song as part of his "Summertime Dream" album. The single rose to #1 in Canada and #2 in the United States.

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"Burn On" by Randy Newman


Released in 1972, "Burn On" is singer/songwriter, Randy Newman's satirical look at the Cuyahoga River's catching fire in 1969. The song, part of Newman's "Sail Away" album, appeared in the film, "Major League."

"The Heart of Rock and Roll" by Huey Lewis and the News

Capital Records

Huey Lewis and the News acknowledge Cleveland's contribution to rock and roll in their 1984 hit, "The Heart of Rock and Roll," a part of their "Workin' for a Livin'" album. The single rose to # 6 in the US.

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"Look Out Cleveland" by The Band

Capital Records

This 1969 song by The Band's Robbie Robertson was a part of the group's self-titled album that same year. It was also featured in the movie, "A Home at the End of the World."