Even though Moscow may call itself the “heart of the arts,” Idaho is not exactly what comes to mind when you think of musical states. Regardless of its “artiness,” Idaho is still namesake to a few songs that offer a little insight into the state.
First off, the obvious one, “Idaho” by Moscow’s own Josh Ritter. I can’t claim to know what Ritter means with this song, but I hear a longing love song, both for a girl and the state. Ritter starts off mourning his mistakes and looking back on his “life of crime.”
Then he reveals that the only ghost that haunts him is howling for him, “Idaho, Idaho.” Maybe he left his love in Idaho, maybe the state is calling him back, regardless, the second verse makes it clear that he is ready to go home.
Finally, in the third verse Ritter wraps it all up with his typical intelligent imagery. He’s been wandering the seas, separated from Idaho, now, he is returning to the landlocked state, his ship becomes a forest and the winds that once drove him become gravel roads.
There is a sort of haunting desire to this song that makes it feel like a lost love song to the state.
Delta Spirit offers a different take on a similar sentiment with the same name, “Idaho.” The meaning in this song is a little harder to find. What we do know is that apparently, “we here in Idaho, hang low.” Similar to Ritter’s song, Delta Spirit is being called back to Idaho.
Freedom sits on top of a hill, calling him home, but he’ll never listen to it. Unlike Ritter, the singer of Delta Spirit’s “Idaho” will never return.
This is a song to play as you cross the state line on the start of a long road trip. The rhythm drives forward and away.
Down Like Silver
The group Down Like Silver offers another take on the state. Their song, also entitled “Idaho,” channels this same longing for a return to Idaho. The song opens with the singer detailing tension in a relationship.
She tries to figure out what is wrong, what the problem is, and then asks, where she can go from here. This works on a couple of levels, she is looking at the future of her romantic relationship and her own physical destination.
She realizes she can’t be with him anymore. They are stuck in a routine, both in the relationship and geographically. As she looks for an outlet she realizes that she knows the answer to her own questions.
“Where can we go from here?” She knows where she needs to go, “We keep trying to get back to Idaho.”
Idaho isn’t often characterized as an escape from a routine, as a destination. Down Like Silver makes it clear that Idaho is home to a peace that transcends geography or relationships.
Many artists have used it as a subject and inspiration for their music. Not bad for a state characterized by guns and potatoes.
Cy Whitling can be reached at email@example.com