Songs about (insert place here)
March 14, 2013 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Looking for songs that express love for a particular place and capture the essence of it.

I'd like to make a Spotify playlist with songs that express love for (or the essence of) a particular place:

Rocky Mountain High
Sitting at the Dock of the Bay
New York State of Mind


I'm partial to more recent (2000s and up) music and less famous songs, but would love anything catchy and beautiful, that really makes you feel like you're there in a place and love it as much as the singers do.

(I'd especially love songs about San Francisco, but any particular place is great).
posted by 3491again to Media & Arts (57 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Alicia Keys' song about New York may suit (you know that one -- "New Yoooooork, Concrete jungle where dreams are made of....")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2013

My favorites about the places I've lived:

Loretta Lynn and Jack White, Portland, Oregon
The Replacements, Portland
Dar Williams, Iowa
Conor Oberst, Moab
Bright Eyes, Train Under Water (NYC)
LCD Soundsystem, New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down
And of course, Sinatra.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:19 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just happen to have a Spotify playlist of California songs - some of them are San Francisco specific, because I made it before I went on vacation there. None of them are really recent, unfortunately.

Some of my favorites are:
Do You Know the Way to San Jose by Dionne Warwick
San Francisco by the Mamas and the Papas
I'm Always Drunk in San Francisco by Carmen McRae
[Sittin' on] the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
California Girls by the Beach Boys
California Love by 2Pac
Gucci Gucci by Kreayshawn (which is not really about California, but it's an awesome song that mentions the Bay area several times)
posted by k8lin at 1:20 PM on March 14, 2013

Lyle Lovett - That's Right (You're not from Texas)
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - Empire State Of Mind
Marc Cohn - Walking in Memphis
Scott Mackenzie - San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)
KISS - Detroit Rock City
Ian Hunter - Cleveland Rocks
Jimmy Buffett - Biloxi
Waylon Jennings - Luckenbach, Texas
Will Smith - Miami
Little Feat or Alison Krauss - Oh, Atlanta
Elton John - Philadelphia Freedom
posted by jbickers at 1:22 PM on March 14, 2013

Also Amarillo by Morning by George Strait
posted by k8lin at 1:27 PM on March 14, 2013

Sausalito Summer Night, by Diesel (just outside San Francisco)
New York City, by They Might Be Giants
Instanbul (Not Constantinople), also by TMBG
China Grove, by The Doobie Brothers (about a sleepy little town around San Antone)
Walking to New Orleans, by Fats Domino
Kokomo, by the Beach Boys
New Orleans, by Gary US Bonds

And, not very specific, but Pink Houses by John Mellencamp evokes a pretty strong picture of a small midwestern town.
posted by China Grover at 1:28 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Santa Fe by Bob Dylan

And now I'll stop. :)
posted by k8lin at 1:31 PM on March 14, 2013

Thanks so much, everyone -- please keep them coming! If you have links to other Spotify playlists, I'd really appreciate it. :)

Also, a friend sent the most lovely song about San Francisco that I'll put on the list! (Caedmon's Call San Francisco)
posted by 3491again at 1:36 PM on March 14, 2013

Josh Ritter Idaho
The Head & The Heart Coeur d'Alene (Idaho).
Band of Horses Great Salt Lake
Band of Horses Laredo
The Essex Green Sin City (Ohio)
Johnny Cash & June Carter, Jackson
Tom Waits San Diego Serenade

And finally, here's a huge list of songs about San Francisco and the Bay Area.
posted by stellaluna at 1:38 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers' Roadrunner (about suburban Massachusetts).
posted by oinopaponton at 1:40 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Surprise, AZ by Richard Buckner is pretty great....but I prefer the cover the Cynthia G Mason did.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:40 PM on March 14, 2013

Rufus Wainwright, California ("I don't know this sea of neon
Thousand surfers, whiffs of freon")
posted by *s at 1:50 PM on March 14, 2013

In the spirit of your title:
Your State's Name Here
posted by Daily Alice at 1:52 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

For my money, the most beautiful song in the world about this topic is The Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset" (original, plus a few notable versions: Ray Davies w/ Jackson Browne; David Bowie; Elliott Smith [live]).
posted by scody at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Coney Island by Van Morrison seems like a good match.
posted by rongorongo at 1:55 PM on March 14, 2013

Skyway, by the Replacements, is probably the quintessential Minneapolis song.
posted by COBRA! at 1:56 PM on March 14, 2013

Dar Williams - "Iowa (Traveling III)"

The Kinks - "Oklahoma, U.S.A."

Simon and Garfunkel - "America"

Bob Dylan - "Girl from the North Country"
posted by easy, lucky, free at 1:57 PM on March 14, 2013

Despite its inaccurate geography, there is no song more beloved in and evocative of West Virginia than (Take Me Home) Country Roads.
posted by MsMolly at 2:06 PM on March 14, 2013

in heaven there is no beer - frankie yankovich (or the pogues is awesome too!)
cleveland rocks - ian hunter
moon over parma - rober mcguire/drew carey
pennsylvania 6-5000 - glenn miller

ok so i went weird on this one.
posted by chasles at 2:08 PM on March 14, 2013

Sufjan Stevens should probably get a mention here, two albums about Illinois and Michigan.
Also there's Omaha, a classic by Counting Crows.
Newbury Street, by 2 Foot Yard.
There's Bon Iver - Perth, Calgary, Minnesota, WI, Lisbon, OH

The best San Francisco song is probably Frank Zappa's Who Needs the Peace Corps?
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:11 PM on March 14, 2013

LA Woman by The Doors.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:22 PM on March 14, 2013

Joni Mitchell California

James Taylor Carolina in my Mind
posted by seesom at 2:38 PM on March 14, 2013

Piazza, New York Catcher - Belle & Sebastian (San Francisco)
Eleanor Put Your Boots On - Franz Ferdinand (Brooklyn)
Brooklyn Roads - Neil Diamond
Merrimack County - Tom Rush (New Hampshire)
posted by ChuraChura at 2:39 PM on March 14, 2013

"Lake Charles," Lucinda Williams

Weird twisted love song for a place, but definitely Dar Williams's "Southern California Wants to Be Western New York" (no relation to Lucinda, just coincidence, and I also back up the people who mentioned Dar Williams's "Iowa")
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:58 PM on March 14, 2013

Oh, how could I forget--Arrested Development, "Tennessee."
posted by dlugoczaj at 3:02 PM on March 14, 2013

Let Me Back In (I Love LA) by Rilo Kiley
It makes me homesick, and I still live here.
posted by ApathyGirl at 3:21 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Paul Kelly, From St Kilda to Kings Cross
Gang Gajang, Sounds of Then (bonus - the film clip is hilariously cheesy and makes me home sick for the mid-eighties)
posted by arha at 3:31 PM on March 14, 2013

Sacramento by Middle of the Road

a couple of Doug Sahm songs
- Texas Me (kind of about SF)
- Mendocino

Streets of Bakersfield - Buck Owens
Unfair - Pavement
posted by Duffington at 3:46 PM on March 14, 2013

Weddings, Parties, Anything - Grey Skies Over Collingwood
posted by pompomtom at 3:52 PM on March 14, 2013

oinopaponton: "Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers' Roadrunner (about suburban Massachusetts)."

And Joan Jett's version about New York.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:52 PM on March 14, 2013

James Low Medicine Front: Thinkin' California.
"everybody's waitin'
for the sun to rise
everybody's watchin'
for the sunny skies
posted by dbmcd at 3:53 PM on March 14, 2013

My favorite Seattle songs are:
Posse on Broadway by Sir Mix-a-lot (reminds me of when I hung out on Broadway as a teenager -- no, I wasn't the one rolling)
The Ave by Blue Scholars (where my husband hung out as a teen)
My Piroshky by Optimus Rhyme
posted by Margalo Epps at 3:56 PM on March 14, 2013

Oddly enough, Chicago by Sufjan Stevens is rather loving towards New York City and really evokes the feeling of idealistically moving here.

I drove to New York
In a van with my friend
We slept in parking lots
I don't mind, I don't mind
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:01 PM on March 14, 2013

This one's pretty sarcastic, but don't tell that to Dodgers fans!

Randy Newman's I Love LA.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:22 PM on March 14, 2013

Barely Breathing by The Hold Steady is a love letter (kinda) to the Minneapolis punk scene. It's a sequel to Stay Positive, which is about the same thing (kinda). For Boston is about, well, guess. Their songs make me want to visit Minneapolis, and I can kinda recognize places that they mention in their songs. Those aren't the only ones - most contain some MNLPS references. Same with their previous band, LifterPuller.

Laser Show by Fountains of Wayne is probably the only song about suburban Connecticut, and mentions places I've grown up around like Bridgeport, Westport and Darien.

Old Fitzroy - Dan Sultan, about Fitzroy in Melbourne.

Fairfield Girl - Perry Keyes (not on YouTube, but on Spotify) is about Fairfield in Australia. He's got a bunch of other songs about places like Redfern and Kings Cross.

Most Gaslight Anthem lyrics romanticize New Jersey to some extent. We Came To Dance and The Patient Ferris Wheel mention specific cities.

Allentown - Billy Joel

Newtown Rag - Blueline Medic (about zine vendors in my neighborhood)

Logan Circle - The Wonder Years about Philadelphia.

And you might be interested in this David Brooks article about Springsteen, where he talks about music that evokes specific places or this post where MeFi discusses Roadrunner.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:30 PM on March 14, 2013

It's older, but I think it's great... I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo - Glenn Miller Band about Kalamazoo, Michigan

Save Me San Francisco - Train

Shuttin Detroit Down - John Rich
posted by AnneShirley at 5:58 PM on March 14, 2013

Big Dipper - Cracker. About Santa Cruz, CA. It doesn't appear in the lyrics, though other nearby towns do.
posted by procrastination at 7:03 PM on March 14, 2013

Best Coast "The Only Place" 'bout California

We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair
When we get bored we like to sit around, sit around and stare
At the mountains, at the birds, at the ocean, at the trees
We have fun, we have fun, we have fun when we please

posted by Kloryne at 7:35 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah Lake Shore Drive

And there ain’t no road just like it,
Anywhere I’ve found.
Runnin' south on Lake Shore Drive,
Headin' into town.

posted by 1367 at 8:19 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Van Morrison Into the Mystic

Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly... into the mystic.

posted by 1367 at 8:22 PM on March 14, 2013

Billy Bragg - Northern Industrial Town
Billy Bragg - A13 Trunk Road to the Sea
posted by pompomtom at 10:32 PM on March 14, 2013

Wichita Skyline - Shawn Colvin
posted by New England Cultist at 4:35 AM on March 15, 2013

Streets of Your Town - The Go-Betweens (Brisbane, Australia)
Cattle and Cane. The Go-Betweens (Rockhampton, Australia)
posted by h00py at 5:08 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jason Falkner's The NYC.

Elliott Smith's Angeles.
posted by troywestfield at 6:17 AM on March 15, 2013

This far in, and no one's mentioned Lights, by Journey? Originally written about Los Angeles ("When the sun shines on LA"), but changed to San Francisco ("When the sun shines on the bay") before recording.
posted by hanov3r at 7:03 AM on March 15, 2013

Tom Waits' Putnam County.
posted by chazlarson at 7:24 AM on March 15, 2013

Mesa, Arizona by Jeffrey Foucault
posted by syncope at 7:29 AM on March 15, 2013

Oregon Hill, by the Cowboy Junkies, which is actually about a neighborhood in Richmond, VA.
posted by newmoistness at 7:53 AM on March 15, 2013

Banned in DC - Bad Brains
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:58 AM on March 15, 2013

Many of the songs that immediately came to my mind already been mentioned, however:

"New Hampshire" by Matt Pond PA
"Indecision" by Carbon Leaf (referencing the band's native Virginia)
"Minnesota" by The Push Stars

Many, many songs by Great Big Sea make reference their native Newfoundland.

Since you mentioned "Rocky Mountain High," I am surprised you didn't mention "Take Me Home, Country Roads."

Plus, I guarantee the instant I post this I will immediately think of about 30 others.
posted by tckma at 1:21 PM on March 15, 2013

East Nashville Skyline by Todd Snider on his neighborhood. Curiously not released on the album of the same name.
posted by pappy at 2:00 PM on March 15, 2013

City Beneath the Sea- Harry Connick Jr
posted by pupperduck at 8:24 PM on March 15, 2013

The UK has a number of location which one cannot visit without singing a particular song to oneself - some, such as Waterloo at Sunset and the A13 Trunk Road, already mentioned. Some more: Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and the Mersey ferry - all in Liverpool, Scarborough's fair, Dover's white cliffs, Salisbury Hill, Portsmouth, Bangor. In London (calling) there is Mile End, Chelsea, Berkeley Square, Baker Street, Wardour Street - all circled by the M25 - Road to Hell. Scotland has Loch Lomond (the bonny banks), Skye (by boat) and Mull of Kintyre -also Leith - where the sunshine is very absent not as I look out the window.

Ireland also has masses of places like this - I need only mention Tipperery to start the chain reaction.
posted by rongorongo at 2:52 AM on March 16, 2013

Go to Nutbush City Limits!

And here's a Wiki of lists of songs about cities.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:29 AM on March 16, 2013

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