Whether it’s Elvis saying carpe diem in Sin City or Frank Sinatra proverbially high kicking around The Big Apple, cities have a long history of inspiring some of our most enduring tunes. So much so that you can nearly trek from coast to coast with hit songs guiding your way.
Below, we’re going to try and do just that with 10 songs that feature cities in their titles. We’ve got both the playlist and the map sorted out in one fell swoop, so hop in and come along for the ride.
1. “Beverly Hills” (Weezer)
Our first stop is in the star-lined streets of Los Angeles county—Beverly Hills. Weezer dropped their song of the same name in 2005 and subsequently took the alternative scene by storm. Taken from their fifth album and produced by Rick Rubin, this song has found its way onto many a rom-com and a naughties playlist. We can’t blame anyone for it though, it’s definitely an earworm.
2. “Viva Las Vegas” (Elvis Presley)
Swiftly moving a little up and a little east, we’re stopping in Las Vegas for an homage to The King himself. Arguably one of Elvis’ most iconic tracks, “Viva Las Vegas” is right up there with “Sweet Home Alabama” when it comes to sonic tributes to places. When you think of Sin City, odds are this song comes to mind.
3. “Austin” (Blake Shelton)
Moving into The Lone Star State, we’re looking at Blake Shelton’s first single, “Austin.” Released in 2011, Shelton conflates the Capitol city and his lost love, who he has trouble contacting after the pair break things off. He sings He figured she’d gone back to Austin / ‘Cause she talked about it all the time / It was almost a year / Before she called him up / Three rings and an answering machine / Is what she got.
4. “Jackson” (Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash)
One of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s most enduring duets, “Jackson” sees the couple playing jilted lovers while Cash fantasizes about getting away from home. Carter takes Cash’s disparaging comments in stride as she bites back with See if I care. Though songwriter, Billy Ed Wheeler, claims to not have had a particular “Jackson” in mind while writing this track, Cash has confirmed he had Tennessee on the brain while performing this one. For a stop in Tennessee, it doesn’t get more classic country than this.
5. “Walking in Memphis” (Marc Cohn)
Tennesee has inspired so many incredible tracks, we’re taking two stops in the Volunteer state. “Walking in Memphis” chronicles a 1985 trip that Marc Cohn took to Graceland to overcome a bout of writer’s block. In the verses, Cohn creates vignettes of the sights and people he meets along the way. A love letter to the Home of the Blues, Cohn name drops W.C. Handy, Elvis Presley, Al Green, and more Memphis staples.
6. “Angel From Montgomery” (John Prine)
We’re taking things even further south to Alabama with John Prine’s classic “Angel From Montgomery.” Prine plays the role of a lonely housewife in this track—draped over her kitchen sink, lamenting her lot in life, old before her time, and married to a cowboy who has lost his luster. Despite coming from a dejected place, the chorus is one of Prine’s most anthemic. Though Alabama as a state has some other songs that might remain a bit more popular than Prine’s (“Sweet Home Alabama” and “My Home’s In Alabama), when it comes to representing the Capitol city, we can’t think of a better choice.
7. “Philadelphia Freedom” (Elton John)
Bernie Taupin penned the lyrics to “Philadelphia Freedom” as a favor to his friend and tennis legend, Billie Jean King. King was a member of the Philadelphia Freedoms in World Team Tennis at the time. Moreover, Elton John taps into the distinctive Philadelphia sound of the early ’70s, pioneered by soul icons like The Delfonics and The Spinners.
8. “New York, New York” (Frank Sinatra)
For many people, their first time to New York City involves humming this Frank Sinatra classic the minute their plane touches down. A glimmering ode to making it in the big city and evocative of the golden age in which Sinatra himself was crooning around the city, few songs are as enduring as “New York, New York.”
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