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Listen To These 10 Songs Before You Visit Charleston


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Fannie Embry



Welcome to Charleston, the charming coastal city known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and picturesque landscapes. Whether you’re planning a visit to this southern gem or simply looking to immerse yourself in the spirit of the city from afar, there’s no better way to connect with the essence of Charleston than through its music. From soulful melodies to foot-tapping rhythms, the songs inspired by South Carolina’s Lowcountry capture the distinct charm and allure of this captivating destination.


In this article, we’ll take you on a musical journey through Charleston, highlighting 10 songs that epitomize the spirit and beauty of the city. So sit back, relax, and let the melodies transport you to the cobblestone streets, historic plantations, and breathtaking coastal vistas that define Charleston’s unique character.


Whether you’re cruising down palm-lined streets in a vintage car or strolling along the Battery with the ocean breeze in your hair, these songs will provide the perfect soundtrack to your Charleston experience. So grab your headphones, crank up the volume, and let’s dive into the musical tapestry of this enchanting city.


“Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor

When it comes to songs that evoke a sense of longing and nostalgia for the South, James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind” is an absolute classic. Released in 1968, this soulful ballad captures the essence of homesickness and the yearning to return to a place loved and missed.


With its gentle acoustic guitar and Taylor’s unmistakably warm voice, “Carolina in My Mind” embodies the feeling of longing for the familiar landscapes and cherished memories of South Carolina. As you listen to the lyrics, you can almost feel the sun on your face and the soft breeze blowing through the Spanish moss-draped oak trees that dot the Lowcountry.


The song’s heartfelt chorus, “In my mind, I’m goin’ to Carolina,” resonates with anyone who holds a special place in their heart for the Palmetto State. Whether you’re a native South Carolinian reminiscing about your childhood or a visitor falling in love with the state’s charm, “Carolina in My Mind” will undoubtedly strike a chord.


As you explore Charleston’s historic streets and wander through its beautifully preserved neighborhoods, allow James Taylor’s timeless melody to enhance your experience. It’s the perfect song to listen to while taking a leisurely walk along The Battery or strolling through the iconic Rainbow Row, immersing yourself in the city’s rich history and architectural wonders.


So, let the heartfelt lyrics and tender melodies of “Carolina in My Mind” transport you to a place of serenity and remind you of the enduring love and connection people have with South Carolina. It’s a song that will make you appreciate the beauty and soul of Charleston.


“Charleston” by Ella Fitzgerald

When it comes to songs that celebrate the vibrant energy and lively spirit of Charleston, Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Charleston” is a must-listen. Originally composed in 1923 for the Broadway musical “Runnin’ Wild,” this jazz standard has become synonymous with the city’s lively dance scene.


With Fitzgerald’s silky-smooth voice and infectious enthusiasm, “Charleston” takes you back to the roaring 20s, when flapper dresses swirled and the Charleston dance took center stage. The song’s lively tempo and catchy lyrics will have you tapping your feet and itching to join in on the iconic dance moves.


As you wander through the historic streets of downtown Charleston, you can almost envision the lively scenes of the past, where couples twirled and spun on the dancefloors of the city’s vibrant jazz clubs. From the timeless allure of The Charleston Music Hall to the intimate ambiance of The Commodore, the spirit of this iconic dance lives on in Charleston.


So put on your dancing shoes and let Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Charleston” transport you back in time. You’ll feel the pulsating energy of the city’s thriving nightlife and gain a deeper appreciation for the rich cultural heritage that continues to influence Charleston today.


As you explore the bustling markets of the City Market or take a leisurely stroll along King Street, why not hum along to Ella Fitzgerald’s infectious tune? It’s the perfect soundtrack to animate your Charleston experience and embrace the timeless charm of this captivating city.


“Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

If there’s one song that embodies the free-spirited and adventurous nature of road tripping through South Carolina, it’s “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. Originally written by Bob Dylan, this bluegrass-infused anthem gained popularity when Old Crow Medicine Show added their unique twist to it in 2004.


“Wagon Wheel” has become an anthem for travelers and explorers, capturing the essence of setting off on a journey and embracing the unknown. As you drive along the scenic highways of South Carolina, with the wind in your hair and the open road ahead, this song is the perfect companion to keep your spirits high and your sense of adventure alive.


From the rolling hills of the Upstate to the stunning coastal landscapes of the Lowcountry, “Wagon Wheel” paints a vivid picture of the beauty that awaits you in every corner of the state. It encapsulates the feeling of anticipation and excitement as you venture into the charming towns and natural wonders of South Carolina.


As the banjo plucks and the fiddle dances, you’ll be transported to the heart of the Palmetto State. Picture yourself exploring the historic streets of Charleston, indulging in the mouthwatering cuisine of the Lowcountry, or soaking up the sun on the pristine beaches of Hilton Head Island. “Wagon Wheel” is the perfect soundtrack to accompany your South Carolina adventures.


So, turn up the volume and let the spirited and uplifting melodies of “Wagon Wheel” infuse your journey with joy and enthusiasm. Whether you’re embarking on a road trip through South Carolina or simply daydreaming about your next escape, this song will inspire you to keep exploring and embrace the wonders that await you in the Palmetto State.


“Charleston Highway” by Drive-By Truckers

For a gritty and soulful tribute to the highways and byways of South Carolina, look no further than “Charleston Highway” by Drive-By Truckers. This alt-country rock tune, released in 2004, captures the essence of life on the road and the unique character of the Southern landscape.


“Charleston Highway” takes you on a journey along the open roads of the Palmetto State, where the landscapes shift from sprawling farmlands to dense forests and picturesque coastal vistas. As the guitars wail and the drums pound, you can almost feel the rumble of your car tires on the pavement as you traverse the highways that crisscross South Carolina.


The song’s vivid lyrics paint a picture of the state’s varied natural beauty, from the winding rivers to the moss-draped trees. It evokes the sense of freedom and adventure that comes with exploring the lesser-known corners of the state, where hidden gems await the intrepid traveler.


As you drive along the historic Charleston Highway, also known as U.S. Route 17, you’ll discover charming small towns, roadside diners serving up delicious Southern fare, and breathtaking views of the coastline. “Charleston Highway” serves as a fitting anthem for your journey, encapsulating the spirit of exploration and discovery.


So, crank up the volume and let Drive-By Truckers’ “Charleston Highway” be your soundtrack as you hit the open road in South Carolina. Whether you’re driving through the rolling hills of the Midlands or cruising along the scenic coastal highways, this song will ignite your sense of adventure and make your journey all the more memorable.


“Sullivan’s Island” by Darius Rucker

For a song that encapsulates the laid-back charm and coastal beauty of Sullivan’s Island, look no further than Darius Rucker’s aptly named track, “Sullivan’s Island.” Released in 2010, this country-pop hit pays homage to the idyllic barrier island located just outside of Charleston.


As the gentle strumming of the guitar fills the air, Rucker’s smooth vocals transport you to the sandy shores and sun-kissed dunes of Sullivan’s Island. The song captures the essence of this beloved destination, known for its pristine beaches, historic lighthouses, and quaint beachfront community.


With its heartfelt lyrics and catchy melody, “Sullivan’s Island” taps into the nostalgic memories and carefree moments spent on the island. Whether you’re kicking back in a beach chair, savoring a Lowcountry boil with friends and family, or watching the mesmerizing sunset over the Atlantic Ocean, this song will instantly transport you to the heart of Sullivan’s Island.


As you explore the island’s charming neighborhoods, discover the local shops and restaurants, and soak up the relaxed atmosphere, make sure to have “Sullivan’s Island” playing in the background. It perfectly captures the essence of this coastal paradise, whisking you away to a place where life moves a little slower and worries melt away with each passing wave.


So, next time you’re planning a visit to Sullivan’s Island or simply longing for a dose of beachside tranquility, press play on Darius Rucker’s “Sullivan’s Island.” Let the music transport you to a place of pure bliss and remind you of the simple joys that await you on this charming Lowcountry island.


“Folly Beach” by Steven Fiore

When it comes to capturing the carefree and laid-back vibes of Folly Beach, look no further than “Folly Beach” by singer-songwriter Steven Fiore. This breezy and melodic tune, released in 2011, beautifully captures the essence of this beloved coastal destination just outside of Charleston.


As the gentle strumming of the acoustic guitar sets the tone, Fiore’s soothing vocals transport you to the sandy shores of Folly Beach. The song perfectly encapsulates the laid-back atmosphere and sense of community that make Folly Beach a favorite retreat for locals and visitors alike.


“Folly Beach” paints a picture of lazy days spent lounging under colorful umbrellas, toes sinking into warm sand, and the sound of crashing waves in the distance. It captures the spirit of camaraderie found among beachgoers and the feeling of life slowing down as you immerse yourself in the rhythm of the ocean.


As you relax on Folly Beach’s expansive shoreline, watch the surfers catch waves, and take in stunning sunsets over the water, let “Folly Beach” be the soundtrack to your experience. The song’s soothing melody and heartfelt lyrics will transport you to a place of pure relaxation and carefree bliss.


So, whether you’re planning your next beach getaway to Folly Beach or simply yearning for the salty breeze and sandy shores, let Steven Fiore’s “Folly Beach” whisk you away to this enchanting coastal paradise. Close your eyes, feel the sun on your skin, and let the music take you on a journey to the heart of Folly Beach.


“South Carolina Low Country” by Josh Turner

When it comes to capturing the soulful essence and rich heritage of the South Carolina Lowcountry, Josh Turner’s “South Carolina Low Country” is a song that resonates with locals and visitors alike. Released in 2018, this country ballad celebrates the unique culture and natural beauty found in this iconic region.


As Turner’s deep, resonant voice fills the air, you’re transported to the tranquil marshes, majestic oak-lined driveways, and winding riverbanks that define the Lowcountry. The song’s beautiful lyrics pay homage to the unique traditions, history, and landscapes that make this area so special.


“South Carolina Low Country” beautifully captures the sense of timelessness and rhythm that exists in the region. It weaves together imagery of cotton fields, hot summer nights, and sweet southern charm, transporting listeners to a place where the old and the new effortlessly blend.


Whether you’re exploring the historic city of Beaufort, taking a boat ride through the winding creeks of the ACE Basin, or indulging in a hearty plate of shrimp and grits, “South Carolina Low Country” serves as a fitting soundtrack to your journey.


So, as you immerse yourself in the rich history and natural beauty of the South Carolina Lowcountry, be sure to have Josh Turner’s “South Carolina Low Country” playing in the background. Let the song capture the essence of this extraordinary region, bringing to life the charm, allure, and unforgettable experiences that await you in the heart of the Lowcountry.


“Rainy Night in Georgia” by Brook Benton

When it comes to capturing the mood and ambiance of a sleepy, rain-soaked night in the South, “Rainy Night in Georgia” by Brook Benton is the perfect companion. Originally released in 1970, this soulful ballad exudes a sense of melancholy and longing, painting a scene of solitude and reflection in the midst of a rainy night.


As Benton’s soulful voice fills the air, you can almost imagine the raindrops falling on the streets of Charleston, casting a serene and romantic ambiance. The song’s haunting melody and heartfelt lyrics create a perfect backdrop for introspection and quiet contemplation.


As you listen to “Rainy Night in Georgia,” you can envision the dusky hues of downtown Charleston as rainwater glistens on the cobblestone streets. The song evokes a sense of nostalgia and longing, making it the perfect choice for a cozy evening indoors or a contemplative stroll through the city’s historic districts.


Charleston is known for its unpredictable weather, and there’s something uniquely beautiful about experiencing a rainstorm in this historic city. As the rain falls, taking shelter in a cozy cafe or beneath the shelter of a grand oak tree, let “Rainy Night in Georgia” set the mood and transport you to a place of quiet reflection and introspection.


So, the next time you find yourself in Charleston on a rainy night, put on “Rainy Night in Georgia” by Brook Benton and let the music wrap you in a warm, comforting embrace. Allow the song to heighten your senses and deepen your appreciation for the beauty that can be found even in the midst of a stormy night in the South.


“Meeting Street” by Sam Bush

When it comes to capturing the essence of Charleston’s historic charm and rich cultural heritage, “Meeting Street” by Sam Bush stands out as a tribute to one of the city’s iconic thoroughfares. Known for its beautiful architecture, stunning gardens, and vibrant energy, Meeting Street is a quintessential Charleston experience.


Bush’s lively and energetic rendition of “Meeting Street” perfectly embodies the spirit of the city. This upbeat bluegrass tune brings to life the bustling atmosphere and the sense of community that defines Charleston’s historic district.


As you listen to the energetic banjo picking and the lively fiddle, you can almost imagine strolling down Meeting Street, peering at the colorful pastel-colored houses, and soaking up the lively ambiance. The song captures the rhythm and cadence of life in Charleston, where history intersects with the modern world.


From the iconic buildings and cobblestone streets to the art galleries and boutique shops that line Meeting Street, this song serves as a joyful soundtrack for your exploration of Charleston’s vibrant cultural and historical tapestry.


So, as you wander through the streets of Charleston, why not have “Meeting Street” by Sam Bush playing in the background? Let the music inspire you to delve into the city’s history, appreciate its architectural wonders, and immerse yourself in the captivating energy that emanates from this iconic Charleston street.


With its lively rhythms and infectious melodies, “Meeting Street” will transport you to the heart of Charleston’s bustling historic district, painting a vivid audio backdrop for your experience. So, let the music guide your footsteps and add an extra layer of magic to your exploration of Charleston’s vibrant Meeting Street.


“The Boogie Woogie Charleston” by Big Joe Turner

For a high-energy and infectious tribute to the lively and vibrant spirit of Charleston’s dance scene, “The Boogie Woogie Charleston” by Big Joe Turner is a song that will get your feet moving and your hips swaying. Released in 1941, this swinging jazz and boogie-woogie tune captures the essence of Charleston’s lively nightlife.


From the moment the piano starts pounding out its catchy rhythm and Big Joe Turner’s powerful vocals kick in, you’ll be transported to the 1940s, where jazz clubs were hotspots for swing dancers and the Charleston reigned supreme. The song’s upbeat tempo and lively instrumentation make it irresistible to resist tapping your feet and getting up on your feet to dance.


As you listen to “The Boogie Woogie Charleston,” you can envision the vibrant dancehalls that once graced the streets of Charleston, where couples twirled and kicked to the lively rhythms of this iconic dance style. It’s impossible not to feel the infectious energy and joy that characterized the Charleston scene in its heyday.


So, whether you’re swinging your partner on the dance floor at a local Charleston dance event or simply looking to infuse a bit of liveliness into your day, “The Boogie Woogie Charleston” is the perfect song to get you in the mood. Let the music transport you back in time and experience the joy and exhilaration of dancing the Charleston like it’s 1941.


So put on your dancing shoes, clear some space in your living room, and let Big Joe Turner’s “The Boogie Woogie Charleston” ignite your love for this iconic dance. You’ll be transported to a bygone era where the Charleston was king, and the spirit of the city’s lively dance scene still lives on.



Music has an incredible power to transport us to different places and evoke strong emotions. In the case of Charleston, South Carolina, the songs mentioned in this article serve as a melodic passport to this historic and charming city. From James Taylor’s heartfelt “Carolina in My Mind” to Big Joe Turner’s infectious “The Boogie Woogie Charleston,” these songs capture the essence of Charleston’s rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes.


Through the melodic storytelling of these songs, you can imagine strolling down the cobblestone streets of Charleston’s historic district, taking in the captivating architecture, and feeling the rhythmic pulse of the city. You can almost taste the flavors of the Lowcountry cuisine and feel the sand between your toes on the beaches of Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach.


Each song paints a unique and colorful picture of Charleston, whether it’s Ella Fitzgerald’s lively celebration of the city in “Charleston,” or Darius Rucker’s ode to the idyllic Sullivan’s Island in “Sullivan’s Island.” These songs transport us to the iconic landmarks, hidden treasures, and cherished experiences that make Charleston a truly captivating destination.


Whether you’re planning a visit to Charleston or simply looking to immerse yourself in its beauty from afar, these songs provide a glimpse into the soul of the city. So, put on your headphones, turn up the volume, and let the melodies of these songs guide you on a musical journey through the heart and soul of Charleston, South Carolina.


As you explore the historic streets, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant culture of Charleston, let these tunes serve as your soundtrack, enhancing your experience and deepening your connection to this beloved southern gem. Immerse yourself in the melodies, embrace the stories they tell, and let the music transport you to the captivating world of Charleston.


So, whether you’re dancing the night away to the boogie-woogie rhythms or enjoying a peaceful stroll along the picturesque streets, let the songs mentioned in this article be a reminder of the incredible beauty, history, and charm that Charleston has to offer. It’s a city that lingers in the hearts and memories of all who visit, and these songs serve as a captivating invitation to explore and embrace the spirit of Charleston.