As Memorial Day weekend passed, I found myself thinking of the myriad of lists that have been created by those seeking attention in the name of art. Don’t ask me why. Maybe the plethora of radio stations playing the top 500 songs and such got me to thinking.
Anyway, my thoughts eventually strayed to thinking about all the songs written about San Francisco. There have been many of course. And yet, there are many others that may not be known to be about San Francisco even though they are. And so I decided to make a short list of some of the songs that came to mind when I thought in such terms. Sure there is “San Francisco” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” as well as an assortment of others that specifically mention the city. But how about those that don’t. Don’t they deserve recognition as well?
Okay so here is a short list of the top five songs that do not mention San Francisco but are clearly about San Francisco.
#5- Lights- Journey- Obviously this is a song about their adopted hometown and is an incredible piece of music to say the least. Arguably it is the best song from their best album. Of course each opinion is debatable to those who wish to argue a moot point.
#4- We Built This City-Starship- Though they have made statements to the contrary, there are few who doubt this song became a hit mainly because people think it is about the legendary city that really was built by rock and roll in the 1960’s! Grace Slick was a part of the original Airplane so this song plays to the groups history as much as any.
#3- Dock of the Bay- Otis Redding- Even though many would argue it was written about the Monterey Bay because Otis played at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, chances are good that he wandered north with all the others who had found themselves in California for the summer of love. And so I will take the liberty of assuming that the portrait he painted with the words may well have been about the most beautiful of all peninsulas in the world, San Francisco Bay.
#2- Bad Motor Scooter- Montrose- “And there’s a red bridge that arcs the bay…” Need I say more? As a song, can anyone compare to Montrose and the first album they produced?
#1- Windy-The Association- Believe it or not, this is a song about one of the characters encountered by many in San Francisco in the mid-1960’s. His name was “Windy” and he was known to be blown by not only the winds but a myriad of hallucinogenic influences. The writer of the song, Ruthanne Friedman was one such person to encounter him and the rest is rock and roll history.
Now I don’t know if your list would compare with mine, but I think these songs are without a doubt all wonderful pieces of music in their own right and do tell a story of the city by the bay… What about your thoughts?