City life might not be for everyone, but you have to admit cities are pretty incredible places. These cultural melting pots hold the memories, dreams, and hopes of millions of people.
They’re also the source of plenty of good songs, as you’re about to see. So, here are some of the best songs about cities ever written.
Cities – Talking Heads
Choosing a place to live is not the easiest task, but it’s definitely pretty exciting! The song tells the story of a man looking for a city he can call his new home – know the feeling?
The song mentions cities such as London, Birmingham, El Paso, and Memphis. Funny story – when this song came out, out of these cities, Talking Heads had played only ever played in London.
Havana – Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug
Here is Cabello’s tribute to the capital of her home country, Cuba. Co-written by Pharrell Williams, it’s an upbeat, summer song about falling in love with a bad boy from Havana.
It’s fair to say the song has done pretty well, with over 1 billion plays on YouTube.
L.A. Woman – The Doors
Los Angeles, the city of glamour, Hollywood, rich and famous. In their hit song, L.A. Woman, the legendary The Doors show their admiration for the band’s hometown.
Although the title hints that the song is about a woman, it’s in fact about the beauty and magic of L.A. The band sings about men, women, children, and all the wonders that the city offers.
Related: hear more songs about L.A.
The Only Living Boy in New York – Paul Simon
Imagine living in a big city such as New York, with over 8 million other people, yet still feeling like the only person there…the writer of our next song knows the feeling.
When his friend ‘Tom’ leaves the city, the narrator feels like the only person in the world.
Related: check out more Big Apple songs on our New York playlist.
Streets of London – Ralph McTell
Like every big city, London comes with both good and bad. Sometimes, life gets lonely, and it’s then when we have to appreciate all the good we have.
Even fifty years on, ‘Streets of London’ still touches many. It reminds us to appreciate what we have, no matter how bad it is, because there are always people who’d give everything to be in your place.
Related: listen to more songs with London in the lyrics.
Katmandu —Bob Seger
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is best known for its religious monuments. Because of that, many Americans searched for enlightenment there, and it was the perfect location for getaway.
In this song, Seger sings about his need to disappear. For him, Kathmandu seemed like a perfect place to get away from a hectic life and find some peace.
Recommended: Our pick of Bob Seger hit songs.
Santa Monica – Everclear
Imagine a city with warm weather, palm trees everywhere, and beautiful beaches…that’s Santa Monica for you.
The signer, born and raised in Santa Monica, describes the city as her safe haven. If we’re lucky enough, we all have that one place that no other can replace. The song is all about leaving bad situations and going back to that safe place of yours.
Malibu – Hole
Malibu is a luxurious slice of heaven on Earth, where many celebrities go when they want to get away from the crowds in LA.
Although many believe Love wrote this song about Kurt Cobain, she claims differently (it’s supposedly about her first love interest who was from Malibu). In the song, she sings about getting away from Hollywood and finding peace on the beach, something she and Kurt dreamed of.
Paris – Friendly Fires
Paris, the most romantic city in Europe, has always been a symbol of love, lights, and passion (its nickname is the ‘City of Light’).
In this catchy song, the Friendly Fires sing about the Parisian life they dream of. The narrator longs for the life he could live in the capital of France and dreams about running away to the City of Light with the person he loves.
Related: hear more songs about Paris.
Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Hong Kong is one of the most famous cities in China (which belonged to Britain for many years).
In this song, ‘Hong Kong Garden’ is not a reference to gardens in the oriental city, but rather the name of a Chinese restaurant! The band sings about the awful ways local skinheads would treat the Chinese people who work there. The song serves as a plea to let them live their lives in peace.
Marrakesh Express – Crosby, Stills & Nash
Marrakesh, one of the biggest cities of the Kingdom of Morocco, encapsulates the Moroccan spirit and is one of the most exotic Arabian towns.
The best way to learn about a new culture is to spend some time with the locals. In the song, Nash sings about all the amazing things he witnessed on the Marrakesh Express (a train), which brought him closer to Arab culture.
Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley
When we think of Las Vegas, our minds immediately think of glamour, glitz, and all kinds of entertainment imaginable. Oh, and our next song, too.
The King definitely knew how to make a timeless hit. ‘Viva Las Vegas’, first played in the movie of the same name, perfectly captures the heart and soul of the city. As the title says it – long live Las Vegas!
Going Down to Liverpool – The Bangles
Because of its architecture, culture – and of course, The Beatles – Liverpool has always been a popular tourist attraction.
In this song, The Bangles reflects the period of mass unemployment during the 80s. “Going down to Liverpool to do nothing” paints a pretty grim picture.
New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
There’s hardly a person who hasn’t dreamed of starting their life anew in New York City, and no one captures the spirit of the city that never sleeps like Frank Sinatra.
The song perfectly evokes the elegance of NYC. For most people, the Big Apple represents the city of endless opportunities.
El Paso – Marty Robbins
The sunniest city of Texas, El Paso, would be a perfect place to find the sun-kissed girl of your dreams.
Some might think that crime and violence are the themes of modern-day music, but this Grammy-winning tune proves us wrong. The 1959 hit starts with a man falling in love and ends with him killing the secret lover of his girl.
Budapest – George Ezra
Budapest’s beauty and rich culture are sure to leave many of us inspired. Or, in the case of George Ezra, its nightlife might make you miss your morning train.
The song is not about the capital of Hungary. Although inspired by the singer’s little Hungarian adventure, this is a love song about a girl he’d give up everything for.
Woman from Tokyo – Deep Purple
In one of their most famous songs, Deep Purple manage to capture the beauty of Japan and the wonderful city of Tokyo.
What better place to find a girl of your dreams than the world’s largest metropolis. This 1973 hit sings about a man’s obsession with a woman from Tokyo, comparing her to a female deity.
Walking in Memphis – Marc Cohn
Memphis, the home of the Blues and birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, holds the spirit of true rock and its legend – Elvis Presley.
Struggling with the writer’s block, Marc Cohn decided to visit Memphis – a place that can leave hardly anyone uninspired. Luckily for us, walking around the home of some of his favorite music inspired Cohn to write this 1991 hit, that many consider a tribute to Presley.
Barcelona – Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe
Sandy beaches, a vibrant nightlife, beautiful architecture, and rich culture all in one place? That’s Barcelona for you.
With a voice as powerful as Freddie Mercury’s, singing opera didn’t daunt him. Spanish opera singer, Montserrat Caballe, recorded this famous song with Mercury back in 1988. In the song, the powerful duo sings about meeting a lover in the breathtaking Catalonian city.
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again – Bob Dylan
Those who know a thing or two about music know that Memphis is home to blues and rock. Mobile, on the other hand, is best known for folk music.
In this song, Dylan uses these two completely different cities to emphasize the isolation and need to escape. The track shows an outsider desperately trying to escape and find himself somewhere else.
Albuquerque – Neil Young
Albuquerque is considered one of the most culturally diverse cities in New Mexico. A place like that can be a perfect escape for those looking for a town where no one cares who you are.
Neil Young sang quite a lot about his struggle with fame. In ‘Albuquerque’, he sings about his desire to escape fame and isolate himself somewhere where no one knows him.
Last Train To Clarksville – The Monkees
This Monkee’s 1966 bubblegum pop song actually tells the story of a Vietnam soldier. The track served as a Vietnam War protest song.
Istanbul – Morrissey
The largest city in Turkey, Istanbul, is filled with rich history and culture, as well as wonderful scenery. Like any city, it has its bad sides too, like the hectic streets Morrissey captured in this song.
The song tells a story of a man desperately searching for his child in the midst of busy Istanbul.
Galway Girl – Ed Sheeran
Galway is known as the festival capital of Ireland, so it comes as no surprise that Sheeran’s Galway girl is as exciting as the city she comes from.
The beginning of the song is inspired by Niamh Dunne, the singer’s friend, who played the fiddle in an Irish band.
Belfast Child – Simple Minds
Although it has the capital city of Ireland in the title, the song, written in 1989, sings about the Enniskillen bombing in which 11 people died.
‘Belfast Child’ perfectly depicts the feelings of frustration and grief caused by the tragic event of the Remembrance Day bombing. It represents the hope of people during that period that Northern Ireland will soon go back to normal.
Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen
Written for the controversial movie Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks, this Oscar-winning song speaks about pain and abandonment. It goes hand in hand with the theme of the movie, which is centered around bringing awareness to AIDS and fighting homophobia.
San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) – Scott McKenzie
In the late 60s, when our next song was released, San Francisco was the center of the Hippie Revolution, which mainly inspired this 1967 hit.
The tune celebrates the social changes that the counter-culture revolution brought, and the song quickly became their anthem. It was the biggest hit during the Summer of Love in 1967, where many peace activists wore, as the song states, flowers in their hair.
Houston – R.E.M.
After the horrible hurricane Katrina in 2005, many refugees moved to Texas. In this song, the narrator’s faith is challenged by the terrible events.
‘Houston’ sends a strong message of dissatisfaction with the Bush administration’s response to the hurricane. Although it has a strong political statement, the song is also about people coming together in troubled times.
Kansas City – The Beatles
Filled with rich jazz history and known worldwide as the city of steaks and barbecue, the song is an homage to one and only Kansas City.
One of the Beatles’ most well-known covers, the song is a bit different from the original. In this version, McCartney sings about rekindling an old flame from Kansas City (rather than finding a new one, as the original song suggests).
Hamburg Song – Keane
Although titled ‘Hamburg Song’, the song isn’t about one of the most important cultural centers of Europe. Rather, it’s a song about the feeling of home a person can make you feel.
Home isn’t necessarily a place. It can be your lover, your family, or your friend, and this song best describes what’s it like to call a person your home.
Jackson – June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash
Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi and its most populous state, is sure to be a lot of fun – or ignite a fire long gone, as the couple in the song hopes.
Getting married when love is flaming often brings regret in the future. The couple in this tune lost the passion their relationship once had, and they hope some fun time in Jackson will bring it back.
Beverly Hills – Weezer
If you’re looking for a luxurious, high-end shopping paradise, you’ll love Beverly Hills. Known for being home to the rich and famous, living there is the epitome of the American Dream for many.
Not for singer Rivers Cuomo, though. He’d never be able to fit in.
Somewhere in Stockholm – Avicii
Although a beautiful European city, Stockholm isn’t really a place where you can reach the peak of fame and fortune. In this homage to his hometown, Avicii admits he dreams of Stockholm.
Leaving the city he was born in to pursue his dreams has always been the DJ’s goal, but it doesn’t stop him from missing his home.
I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphys
During the industrial revolution, a lot of Irish people immigrated to Boston and other places in the U.S. Dropkick Murphys’ most famous track tells the story of one of them.
The band sings about an Irish immigrant who lost his leg and is shipping off to Boston to find a wooden one. The song could also be seen as a metaphor for losing yourself trying to make a living.
Calgary – Bon Iver
Having never been to Calgary, the singer can only imagine what the city is like – a beautiful isolated capital city with high places, that he often dreams about.
Since he’s never visited the city, Vernon can only look at it in a certain way. He compares it to true love – you don’t know who the person is, but you know they’re somewhere out there.
Bagpipes From Baghdad – Eminem
Baghdad is known for being one of the biggest Arab cultural centers, which is why this instrumental from Eminem has a Middle Eastern feel to it.
When in Rome – Billy Joel
‘When in Rome’ is an expression used to say that you should follow the customs and traditions of the people whose town you’re visiting. Here, Billy Joel added his own twist to it.
The song tells a story of a couple who, by day, follow the rules of their bosses at work. At the end of the day, however, they find relief in each other’s arms.
Night Boat to Cairo – Madness
Cairo is the capital city of Egypt and one of the largest and historically richest cities in the world – how could anyone be left uninspired by it?
The song tells a story about a late-night boat that was stranded on the River Nile. Definitely, one that will make you want to dance.
Vienna – Ultravox
This Ultravox classic is considered one of the greatest synth-pop tunes of all time. This song about a love affair and romance uses the ominous and dark backdrop of one of Europe’s most famous cities, Vienna.
- Living For The City – Stevie Wonder
- Montreux – Led Zeppelin
- Haiti – Arcade Fire
- Move to Miami – Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull
- Seattle TideZ – Aaron Carter
- Paris – The Chainsmokers
- Buried in Detroit – Mike Posner
- Baltimore – Prince
- Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen
- London Calling – The Clash