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January 20, 2014 6:11 AM   Subscribe

The Ten Terrible Songs about San Francisco. . .along with Ten Good Ones. SFGate built these lists.
posted by Danf (42 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
That Silver Jews song is great give me a break sfgate!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:27 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I was going to argue in favor of Brett Dennen's song because I, too, love the A's. Then I listened to it and wanted to punch my laptop.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:32 AM on January 20


If you don't have Deslide bookmarked, and don't want to click through a slideshow of pictures to read a short list article:
Scott McKenzie, “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)”
Vanessa Carlton, "San Francisco"
Train, "Save Me, San Francisco"
Journey, "Lights"
Brett Dennen, "San Francisco"
Cascada, "San Francisco"
Starship, "We Built This City"
Silver Jews, "San Francisco B.C."
Village People, "San Francisco (You've Got Me)":
The Mowgli's, "San Francisco"

... along with ten good ones:
Jesse Fuller, "San Francisco Bay Blues"
Arcade Fire, "Cold Wind"
Carmen McCrea, "I'm Always Drunk In San Francisco"
Jellyfish, "Russian Hill"
Red House Painters, "Grace Cathedral Park"
Chris Isaak, "San Francisco Days"
Arctic Monkeys, "Fake Tales of San Francisco"
Mark Eitzel, "Mission Rock Resort"
Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express, "Castro Halloween"
Tony Bennett, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco"
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:36 AM on January 20 [5 favorites]


Yeah, Dennen's like a horrible Van Morrison/Carrot Top transporter accident.

But in truth, I clicked for "Who Needs The Peace Corps?", and came away very disappointed.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:36 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


The Dead Milkmen's "The Thing That Only Eats Hippies" has to make the list somewhere.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:42 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


City songs! Hooray! Here's a few of flapjax's old favorites...

Birmingham
Baltimore
L.A.
Houston
Kansas City
Muskogee
Memphis
Jackson
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:44 AM on January 20


I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Animals' "San Franciscan Nights".
This following program is dedicated to the city and people of San Francisco, who may not know it, but they are beautiful and so is their city. This is a very personal song, so if the viewer cannot understand it (particularly those of you who are European residents), save up all your bread and fly Trans Love Airways to San Francisco U.S.A. Then maybe you'll understand the song. It will be worth it, if not for the sake of this song, but for the sake of your own peace of mind.
posted by orthicon halo at 6:51 AM on January 20 [5 favorites]


I came in knowing that Scott McKenzie would be listed as one of the worst even though it's one of the best.
posted by painquale at 6:59 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I'd file The Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco by The Lucksmiths under 'best', because it got me through the early, uncertain stages of a long distance relationship with the man who eventually became my husband. (Plus, we were introduced by a member of the band, for added poignancy.)
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 7:07 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Between Eitzel, Jellyfish, and Kozelek I'm starting to wonder if I've chosen to live in the wrong part of the country.
posted by anthom at 7:08 AM on January 20


It's always interested me how American pop and rock is absolutely rammed with references to cities, states, places, roads... locations of all sorts. And British pop and rock isn't. Of course there are notable exceptions (London Calling, London's Burning umm... lemme get back to you) but generally it's a striking difference. I try to imagine British equivalents to famous American songs and the results are just all wrong.

Get your kicks on the A83.
The wild, the innocent and the Brick Lane shuffle
Tewkesbury Lineman
I left my heart in Cirencester
Midnight train to Shropshire
Do you know the way to Milton Keynes?

It really doesn't work, does it? An oddity.
posted by Decani at 7:23 AM on January 20 [6 favorites]


Submitted for your approval: Gregory Alan Isakov, San Francisco.
posted by MrVisible at 7:37 AM on January 20


how could they forget "sitting on the dock of the bay"?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:00 AM on January 20 [6 favorites]


Also, great list of boring indie rock songs, no Del, no SOM, no E40, no Coup, no DU, no Lil Debbie, no People Under the Stairs, no Too $hort. I'm sure there's at least one reference to their hometown in the history of hip hop somewhere right?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:03 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


And British pop and rock isn't.

ferry cross the mersey
going down to liverpool
waterloo sunset
penny lane/strawberry fields forever
denmark street
white man in hammersmith palais
the guns of brixton
baker street
brighton rock
i don't want to go to chelsea

just a few off the top of my head
posted by pyramid termite at 8:21 AM on January 20 [6 favorites]




"San Francisco Anthem"
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:49 AM on January 20


Pyramid - for every one you can come up with I bet I can come up with five American ones. And, including the two I mentioned, four of the list have been courtesy of The Clash. I swear Strummer was single-handedly trying to redress the imbalance. :-)
posted by Decani at 9:08 AM on January 20




The Decemberists - Grace Cathedral Hill

A beautiful, melancholy walking tour.
posted by Myca at 9:43 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Oh, thank god they put "Mission Rock Resort" on there. Those opening lines are the perfect crystallization of my romantic ideal of SF.

Let's have a drink at the Mission Rock
Watch the Oakland lights across the dry dock
Watch the blue, blue sky darken like an inhalation
Over the graveyard of ships

posted by mykescipark at 9:56 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


I try to imagine British equivalents to famous American songs and the results are just all wrong.

Sunny Goodge Street is a pretty decent effort.
posted by Danf at 10:08 AM on January 20


how could they forget "sitting on the dock of the bay"?

Aww, it's a great song, and I'm sure that the local Sausalito newspaper would put it on their top ten list!
posted by KatlaDragon at 10:23 AM on January 20


Decani: The Pogues come to mind for many place references.... The song Transmetropolitan is basically a big string of 'em.
From a 5 pound bet in william hills
To a soho sex-shop dream
From a fried egg in valtaro's
To a tottenham court road ice cream
We'll spew and lurch, get nicked and fixed
On the way we'll kill and maim
When you haven't got a penny, boys
It's all the bloody same

Going transmetropolitan
From pentonville road on a sunset eve
To the beauty that's mill lane
Going transmetropolitan
We'll drink the rat's piss, kick the shite
And I'm not going home tonight

posted by kaibutsu at 10:33 AM on January 20


Yay, Chuck Prophet!

And I recently heard somebody perform this at a talent show and almost fell out of my seat laughing: Emily Yates - "A Northern California Love Song".
posted by Lexica at 10:48 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


And British pop and rock isn't.

List of songs about Birmingham
List of songs about Liverpool
List of songs about London
List of songs about Manchester

You know what song I always loved: Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel. Because that was the name of the hill behind my house in Bath. You could see the village of Woolly out my back window, where Gabriel lived with his then-wife, who organized an annual village festival, and two kids, who I once went to church with.

My heart going boom, boom, boom.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:49 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I try to imagine British equivalents to famous American songs and the results are just all wrong.

I'm reminded of David Brent's song about Freeway nine
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:57 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Also, great list of boring indie rock songs

Make your own list of boring hip hop songs! Educate us.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:58 AM on January 20


Also, great list of boring indie rock songs, no Del, no SOM, no E40, no Coup, no DU, no Lil Debbie, no People Under the Stairs, no Too $hort. I'm sure there's at least one reference to their hometown in the history of hip hop somewhere right?

Probably, except their hometowns are Oakland, Oakland, Vallejo, Oakland, Oakland, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Oakland. That's like lambasting the "Manhattan In Music" list for missing Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and The Four Seasons.

PS: That list of San Francisco adjacent rappers and you didn't list Tupac?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:13 AM on January 20 [4 favorites]


Representin' for Tha' 510 and the Greater Bay Area, lemme point y'all to The Getback Crew's Bay Boy Mixtape, particularly the cut "Foxy Girls (Candy Store)" which samples the Roger Collins soul classic "Foxy Girls in Oakland".

First things first, raise a toast to my city where the girls go dumb and the pimps get pretty...

Getback previously on the Blue
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:14 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


None of these even rate. The very WORST song about San Francisco is one i heard exactly once, a very long time ago, but the tune was so special and the poetry so appalling that the chorus is still wedged solidly in my head more than twenty years later. I was at a children's theater production of Into the Woods somewhere in the East Bay, and at the end of the performance, the entire cast stood up on the stage and sang the immortal words:

"Oh, San Francisco!
By the waters of the bay under the sky so blue
Oh, San Francisco!
It's a paradise on earth and such a wondrous view -
I feel so lonely when I'm far
From Market Street and Cable Car-"


Then they took an almighty breath, and went for broke-

"OH SAN FRANCISCO! Such a paradise of PEACE and HAR-MO-NEEEEEE!"


I've been trying to find a recording since 1992. I've reluctantly concluded that it's something composed by one of the members of the theater group and that I never will, but there are still moments, in the deep dark of the night, when I'll wake up and hear that refrain in the corner of my mind...
posted by tabubilgirl at 11:45 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


No place for San Francisco from the 1936 top grossing hit movie of the same name?

For shame.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:54 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


It's actually down the peninsula a bit, but I've been trying to track down an mp3 of The Guttersluts Housewife From Hillsdale for the last few years. That's the Bay Area for me.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:07 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


My favorite San Francisco song is Maxime Le Forestier's French folk-pop classic San Francisco (but since my dad would play this on his guitar and sing as a lullaby when I was a kid I'm hopelessly biased).
posted by Kattullus at 2:45 PM on January 20


There is a song about 3 storms converging on the city, causing an earthquake. It is quite good.
Latyrx - Storm Warning - Quannum Spectrum
posted by poe at 6:34 PM on January 20


San Francisco Fan
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:42 PM on January 20


Not liking San Francisco BC is objectively incorrect. Give me a pencil and some scrap paper and I can prove it.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:09 PM on January 20


I can't tell you how much I hate that Train song, but any list with Mike Eitzel on it is a good one.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:51 PM on January 20


What? Nobody has mentioned Foxygen's bit o'sweet nonsensical ear candy yet?
posted by Fuzzypumper at 8:50 PM on January 20


Best song about getting priced out of 'Frisco by the hipsters & tech money, and moving to the East Bay where a Honky Tonk band can afford to live: Red Meat, "Alameda County Line"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:35 AM on January 21


We had an exchange teacher from France in secondary school one year, whose main teaching method was to pull out an acoustic guitar and start emoting verb conjugations at us. So when I think of songs about San Francisco, I remember Gregoire leading a class of bored teenage boys in a chorus of: "Oo etay voo, Leezahrd et Luke....PISLYVIAAAA...ATTENDAY MWAHHHH!"
posted by rollick at 12:15 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I try to imagine British equivalents to famous American songs and the results are just all wrong.

Billy Bragg, "A13, Trunk Road to the Sea" (lyrics; to the tune of "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66")
posted by kirkaracha at 2:43 PM on January 21


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