6 Great Songs About Cities

It's a combination music/geography lesson

I was in Montreal last weekend and it got me thinking about all the songs that are written about cities. Sometimes it’s like a musical postcard to share your experience of being there, sometimes it’s just a vague reference that doesn’t have anything to do with the actual city. Either way, these bands did it right.

Band Of Horses – Laredo

Named after Laredo, Texas, the song is a tale of lost love that involves putting a pullet in a Kia Lorenzo (which is a fictional vehicle) and going for a dip in Jammer Lake (which is actually in Northern Minnesota.) Turns out singer Ben Bridwell wrote a lot of the music for Infinite Arms while staying in a cabin there.

Bastille – Pompeii

The ancient Roman city of Pomeii was destroyed and buried in ash after Mt. Vesuvius erupted in the year AD 79 – it’s now a popular tourist attraction near Naples, Italy. The song from Bastille reads more like an emotional destruction than a physical one, with lines like “where do we begin – the rubble or our sins?”

Bloc Party – Kreuzberg

Kreuzberg, Germany is one of the trendy parts of Berlin, full of pubs and nightclubs. It’s perhaps in this setting, in his diary-entry style of writing, Kele Okereke shares his hope of finding love, only to end up alone again in the end.

Death Cab For Cutie – Marching Bands Of Manhattan

“Sunrising” is a term used in music production for a song that slowly, progressively gets louder and more intense from start to finish. It’s appropriate that the subject matter matches the style in ‘Manhattan’, with Ben Gibbard singing about the sunshine and pulling open the curtains to let the light in.

Bon Iver – Perth

Perth is a city of 2 million people, isolated on the west coast of Australia. It’s been named one of the most liveable cities in the world based on criteria like climate, safety, public transportation and medical care. Does the Bon Iver song have anything to with the city? Probably not.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Venice Queen

Surprise! A Chili Peppers song that’s not about California! Venice must have been home to the mysterious G.L.O.R.I.A. Anthony Keidis sings about here. From their excellent 2002 album “By The Way.”