"As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise..."
February 20, 2015 1:24 PM   Subscribe

One of my favourite songs in the world is The Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset." I'd like your favourite songs about a city I've loved since childhood, good or ill: London.

Bonus: anything about England as it is, has been, as it will be is also appreciated.

Assume as an Anglophile I am very well acquainted with much. (Robyn Hitchcock has been a fave forever for example.)

These will all be compiled in an amazing series of MP3s for me to listen to when I am not in the city and need a pick-me-up.
posted by Kitteh to Media & Arts (44 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've always had a soft spot for Baker Street dating back to when I was only eight years old (and thought it was actually about Los Angeles!).

Also assuming you've seen Wikipedia's list?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:27 PM on February 20, 2015


Dark Streets of London by The Pogues
posted by workerant at 1:28 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sights and Sounds of London Town by Richard Thompson
posted by neilb449 at 1:31 PM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Noel Coward - London Pride
posted by in278s at 1:31 PM on February 20, 2015


London Calling, by The Clash.

Warewolves of London, Warren Zevon

Hairdresser on Fire, The Smiths


I'll probably come back with more later. But that's a start.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


RB - those are easy pickings, but then I wasn't very specific in terms of what I already have. It's cool because at at least it reminds me what I don't need to source!
posted by Kitteh at 1:35 PM on February 20, 2015


Penny Lane by the Beatles
posted by Asparagus at 1:37 PM on February 20, 2015


Nevermind... Penny Lane is about Livepool. Man, that's embarrassing!
posted by Asparagus at 1:40 PM on February 20, 2015


Timeout.com 100 Best London Songs.
posted by kinetic at 1:43 PM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Small Faces' Rene is set in London, how's that?
posted by phunniemee at 1:47 PM on February 20, 2015


Two beautiful songs from one of London's favorite sons
London's Brilliant Parade and Hoover factory -
posted by any major dude at 1:50 PM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Weirdly I was just thinking about this and missing London, so here goes. Sure you know all the Pogues, but they're essential so let's add Misty Morning, Albert Bridge; Rainy Night in Soho; Transmetropolitan; The Old Main Drag and Lullaby of London. I'll assume you know the Clash (but remember Capital Radio as well as the obvious ones)

Try to go a bit more obscure now:

Fairport Convention: London Apprentice
The Jam: 'A' Bomb in Wardour St, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight.
Public Service Broadcasting: London Can Take It (WW2 samples over electronica, great)
Carter (The Unstoppable Sex Machine) have a number of songs that pun on classic songs/South London neighbourhoods: 24 Minutes From Tulse Hill, The Taking of Peckham 123, Only Living Boy in New Cross
Pulp: Bar Italia (late night coffee shop on Old Compton St); Mile End (then a run-down neighbourhood featured in Trainspotting).
Alabama 3: Cocaine (Killed My Community) and one version of Woke Up This Morning has a vocal intro about walking through Brixton.
Suede: By The Sea
Stiff Little Fingers: Piccadilly Circus
Rancid: Leicester Square
The Smiths: London (probably a bit obvious...); Half a Person
Magnetic Fields: Swinging London
posted by Pink Frost at 2:21 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming you've already got Guns of Brixton somewhere on your list. Concrete Jungle by the Specials works for me, even though they were from Coventry.

How about Dizzee Rascal's Sirens? Kano's Typical Me, Nobody Don't Dance No More, and Signs in Life all put me right back on the mid-2000s night bus home.
posted by Kreiger at 2:23 PM on February 20, 2015


Lily Allen - LDN
posted by mymbleth at 2:28 PM on February 20, 2015


Knightsbridge March (familiar to Python fans)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:28 PM on February 20, 2015


I really like PJ Harvey's "Last Living Rose".

Also, the Pogues' "London You're A Lady" is kind of schlocky and overblown, but I really like "your headdress is a ring of lights, but I will not follow them".

Really, a lot of Pogues songs are set in London - "The Old Main Drag" ("I went down to the 'dilly to check out the scene") for instance. A lot of the songs on "Rum, Sodomy and the Lash" and "Red Roses for Me" would probably qualify.

Most of the songs about London and England that I know are really sad.

You might like the Mekons' albums Honky-Tonkin and So Good It Hurts - "Charlie Cake Park" is set in Leeds, if Leeds is your thing at all, and lots of the other songs are about the situation of England.

Also, of course, all of PJ Harvey's album Let England Shake.
posted by Frowner at 2:32 PM on February 20, 2015


Some probably completely obvious ones for you! This is fun!

Breakfast in Spitalfields - Juan Zelada
Warwick Avenue - Duffy
Hometown Glory - Adele
Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant
West End Girls - Pet Shop Boys
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:33 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Paul Kelly & Kieran Evans made a film called Finisterre to accompany the album of the same name by the band Saint Etienne a few years ago. It's basically a love letter to an ever-changing London. Many of the records the band has made over the last 25 years have been circling around similar concepts, from London Belongs to Me ("Close our eyes / Breathe out slowly / Today London loves us only") to Mario's Cafe ("Rainy cafe / Kentish Town, Tuesday / Joking around, still digging that sound") to Teenage Winter ("Mums with pushchairs outside Sainsbury's / With tears in their eyes / They'll never buy a Gibb Brothers record again / Their old 45's gathering dust.")
posted by bcwinters at 2:41 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


London Still by The Waifs. Kinda melancholy, but beautiful (IMO).
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:56 PM on February 20, 2015


Really, a lot of Pogues songs are set in London - "The Old Main Drag" ("I went down to the 'dilly to check out the scene") for instance. A lot of the songs on "Rum, Sodomy and the Lash" and "Red Roses for Me" would probably qualify.

I can't believe three of us mentioned the Pogues and no-one said White City. So, White City. And I missed the most famous Smiths song to mention London, Panic.

Anyhoo, those of you with Spotify, I've started a collaborative playlist. Feel free to collaborate.
posted by Pink Frost at 3:03 PM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ah, Waterloo Sunset, isn't that such a perfect beautiful song.
Anyone mentioned Blur yet? Under the Westway and ah, This is a Low.
All songs that make me feel nostalgic for places I've never even been to.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:21 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]




I don't know that I would put this on a mix that was meant to be a "pick-me-up" but Kirsty MacColl's melancholy, beautiful "Soho Square" is another one that just came to mind. One of the benches there has a plaque in her memory.
posted by bcwinters at 4:07 PM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Stephen Duffy - London Girls
Morrissey - Piccadilly Palare
posted by freya_lamb at 4:25 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can't find a link but Trafalgar Square by Chris Difford is a lovely song.
posted by gfrobe at 4:44 PM on February 20, 2015


Joe Jackson's Down to London
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 5:35 PM on February 20, 2015


The Tears - Lovers (Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler's non-Suede project) captures a real London feeling. "She shivers in the rain, it's the capital connecting with her veins"
posted by merocet at 9:06 PM on February 20, 2015


I know the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl are both on here already, but London Christmas isn't Christmas without a full pub singing Fairytale of New York, half celebrating, and half wondering if there's somewhere else they should be.
posted by Kreiger at 9:46 PM on February 20, 2015


This version of Waterloo Sunset by Cornershop is pretty amazing.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:05 PM on February 20, 2015


donovan's "sunny goodge street"
posted by iboxifoo at 11:33 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


A band acknowledged to be influenced by The Kinks:

XTC: “Towers of London”

Andy Partridge (of XTC) solo: “When We Get to England”
(Ignore fan-made video footage that has nothing to do with the song.)
posted by D.C. at 11:46 PM on February 20, 2015


Lots of London place name dropping in Gen X's Kiss Me Deadly
posted by tractorfeed at 11:59 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bert Jansch and John Renbourn - Soho
posted by tinwhiskers at 1:12 AM on February 21, 2015


Asthma Attack by CockNBullKid is great stuff. That entire album is amazing, actually. Lots of London references throughout.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:28 AM on February 21, 2015


London Rain by Heather Nova.
posted by Cheese Monster at 11:05 AM on February 21, 2015


England by the National
'You must be somewhere in London...'
posted by claptrap at 6:55 AM on February 22, 2015


Grumbling Fur's Lightinsisters (featuring The Charlatan's Tim Burgess), which came out last year, is a gorgeous piece of neo psychedelia about Seven Sisters.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:36 AM on February 22, 2015




Caetano Veloso: London, London
posted by stinker at 10:34 AM on February 22, 2015


An upbeat calypso number: Lord Kitchener's London is the place for me

I also like the version of Lullaby of London by June Tabor and the Oysterband.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:31 PM on February 22, 2015


Damn, I was beaten to Lord Kitchener by ZipRibbons above.

As atonement: A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square is great; here's Vera Lynn in 1940 and The Manhattan Transfer with their otherworldly harmonies.

My favourite version of Noel Coward's London Pride is sung by soprano Catherine Bott on her CD of the same name.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:47 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Electric Avenue is a real street in Brixton and the song is about the Brixton Riots.

The Jam: Down in the Tube station at midnight

Londinium by Catatonia. Cerys Matthews's raspy Welsh voice is a love-or-hate thing, but I quite like her.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:03 PM on February 22, 2015


The Field Mice - A Wrong Turn And Raindrops
Blueboy - Marble Arch
or anything by Saint Etienne
posted by acb at 4:56 AM on February 23, 2015


London Homesick Blues by Gary P. Nunn. Here it is on Jerry Jeff Walker's classic ¡Viva Terlingua!

London Loves from Blur's Parklife.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 9:48 AM on February 24, 2015


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