My Top 10 Cincinnati Songs (in Chronological Order)

The Hit Parade begins in 1950.

The Cincinnati native who’s a self-described “pop music archeologist” and the brain behind the Zero to 180 music blog says there are more than 200 recorded songs with Cincinnati in their titles. Here are his 10 favorites.

Illustration by Zachary Ghaderi

“Cincinnati Hit Parade” by Bill Franklin (1950)

This marvelous slice of “hillbilly jive” really swings, punctuated by bursts of chiming steel guitar and old-timey roller rink organ. Plus, it’s a truck driving song.

“Cincinnati Blues” by Jesse Fuller (1965)

Aching vocals and plaintive Piedmont-style fingerpicking, not to mention sublime slide work, make for compelling listening. There’s a live recording on a 2006 box set by Smithsonian’s Folkways, Friends of Old Time Music.

“Cincinnati Kid” by Prince Buster (1966)

One of Jamaica’s leading lights slyly calls out praise to King Records’s most famous artist in this far-sighted fusion of rocksteady and funk drawing a direct line between Kingston and Cincinnati.

“Cincinnati Woman” by The Hubbubs (1971)

Catchy AM radio power pop with fuzztone guitar, go-go horns, and Laugh-In production sound with (surprise!) German lyrics. Fortunately, the song title in English begins each chorus and will have you singing along in no time.

“Cincinatti Woman” by Spode (1971)

The song’s throwback sound—galloping guitar lines, evocative of The Shadows’s Hank Marvin, set against a lonely Moody Blues–style backing vocal—perfectly captures the mysterious charm of that elusive lass from the misspelled city thousands of miles away.

“Cincinnati Square” by Chuck Robinson (Early 1970s)

Groovy psych-jazz-funk celebration of a super hip and happening gathering spot that, uh, doesn’t actually exist. But let’s give Robinson the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant Fountain Square, so as not to bring the party down any further.

“Cincinnati Blues” by Ray Pennington & Buddy Emmons (1984)

Former King Records producer and talent scout Pennington wrangles pioneering country-jazz steel guitarist Emmons on a western swing number that declares Cincinnati an effective restorative treatment for his ailing spirits.

“Cincinnati” by Holidaymakers (1988)

Tuneful, jangly guitars come to the fore on this fetching, uptempo indie-pop number by a Scottish band who released a couple of singles in the UK in the late 1980s … and then nothing more.

“Oh, Cincinnati” by The Seedy Seeds (2008)

Findlay Market and the abandoned subway get shout-outs in what sounds to my ears like an obvious local radio hit. Wistful banjo lines are tempered by a modern pop sensibility that somehow manages to convey a hopefulness throughout.

“Cincinnati Bears” by PNS & Zavala (2009)

The irresistible groove of this hip-hop/funk instrumental makes an ideal backdrop for a scenic Cincinnati drive.

Special Mention

“Cincinnati Star” by Ed Williams (1979), a wonderfully concise time capsule of 20th-century Cincinnati pop culture history through the late 1970s.

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