American towns and cities have always been a source of inspiration for singers. Many have named some of their most iconic songs based on a U.S. city, while others have based the lyrics or the theme of the song on their hometown. In this article, we talk about 10 of the best songs with titles that include a US city.
Billy Joel is an American legend. After he started making music in the 1960s, he came to be known as The Piano Man, and his significance in the music world has not diminished ever since. The song “New York State of Mind” was released in 1976, as part of the album Turnstiles.
The city of lights holds a particular spot in Billy Joel’s heart, and it has been the staple of his music career for the last four decades. He has regularly played it in his concerts. Joel admits that he wrote the song after he left Los Angeles to go back to the East Coast.
Enough can never be said about Elvis Presley, the musical sensation who didn’t stay with us long enough. Over the years, he wrote some of the most memorable songs ever recorded on American soil, and Viva Las Vegas is one of them.
The song, written by Mort Shuman and Doc Pomus, was recorded to be featured in the eponymous film. Even though Elvis never performed the song live, it has been sung by hundreds of artists since his demise. The song was released almost a year after it was recorded.
The American rock legend, Bruce Springsteen, has written many hit songs throughout his career spanning five decades, but Streets of Philadelphia is one that holds special significance for him too. Written and performed by Bruce himself, the song was also featured in the 1993 film Philadelphia.
The song was also released as a single in 1994, and it became an instant hit all over the world; topping charts in France, Canada, Germany, and Ireland, etc. The song also was a critic-favorite; it won 4 Grammys and an Academy Award for The Best Original Song.
Bob Dylan is another American icon who needs no introduction. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, is a song that was released as part of the album, Blonde on Blonde, in 1966. A live version of the song can also be heard on the 1976 album, Hard Rain.
Bob also wrote the song, whereas Bob Johnston produced it. The recording of the song was divided into 20 takes, and all of them were done on February 17, 1966. Dylan is said to have altered the structure of the song and revised its lyrics multiple times during the recording.
Big Willie is known more for his acting skills than singing, but he has released a few albums over the years. Miami was featured on his debut album, and fittingly so since he has such adoration for the city.
The song samples And The Beat Goes On by The Whispers and reached the #3 and #17 spots on the UK and Billboard Hot 100 charts respectively. In the song, Will describes Miami as the perfect place to party, with its myriad of beaches, and warm temperature, and honestly, there isn’t much to argue there.
Dropkick Murphy is an American band that specializes in Celtic punk music. The song Shipping Up to Boston is inspired from the eponymous Woody Guthrie classic and was featured on the 2005 album, The Warrior’s Code.
The song talks about a sailor who lost his leg in an accident and is now going to Boston to look for a wooden leg. Matt Kelly of the Dropkicks said in an interview that Woody’s daughter showed him some unpublished lyrics of the great folk singer, which eventually led them to come up with their rendition of the classic song.
The late Scott McKenzie was an American singer with a lot of heart and a melodious voice. He is most famous for the song San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Ear), which was written by The Mamas & the Papas.
John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas also played guitar for the song whereas the song’s bass line was provided by Joe Osborn. The song became one of the hottest sellers during the 1960s around the world, reaching the #1 spot in the UK and #4 in the US.
The Grammy Award-winning Marc Cohn composed and recorded Walking in Memphis in 1990, which went on to become the staple of his music career, and a huge hit worldwide. Marc himself calls it his signature song and claims that the song is a 100% autobiographical.
The song highlights the experiences of Cohn, as a Jew, within the Gospel-ridden Memphis. The last verse talks about the spiritual encounter the singer had with Muriel Wilkins, with whom he also performed Amazing Grace. The song remains his only Top 40 hit.
Many singers have sung about California over the years, but no other song has gotten etched in the fabric of American music like California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & The Papas. Barry McGuire initially recorded the song, but it didn’t receive worldwide recognition until the band embraced it and made it their own.
California Dreamin’ was released in 1965 and holds the 89th spot in the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time list compiled by The Rolling Stones. California is known for its warm, welcoming temperature and the singer expresses their longing for it during New York’s cold winter.
No best songs list is complete without a Sinatra song. New York, New York is regarded as one of the most historically significant songs about the city. Liza Minnelli initially sang it for the 1977 Martin Scorsese film of the same name, but when Sinatra re-recorded it in 1979, he made it his own.
The lyrics of the song portray New York just the way it is; the city that never sleeps. Sinatra held the city in high regards, and it’s evident when you hear the song. He also performed the song live, as a duet, with Miss Minnelli.