Songs About San Francisco
San Francisco, known by its many monikers (including “The Golden City” and “The Paris of the West”), has been the subject of innumerable songs over the years.
Songs have been written about the 1906 earthquake, city life, love, and relaxation on the San Francisco Bay’s docks.
Some of the posters pay homage to the Summer of Love and the Monterey International Pop Music Festival of 1967 with a trippy or peace-themed design.
We’re going to explore 8 of the best San Francisco-themed songs here. So, let’s get this party started.
1.“Lights” by Journey
It was in San Francisco that the members of Journey first met each other and rose to popularity, and “Lights” is a famous soft rock song that is about the city.
Frontman Steve Perry, who had recently joined the band and had grown up just a few hours away from San Francisco, contributed to the writing of the song along with other members of the band.
When Katy Perry first started writing “Lights,” she intended for it to be about Los Angeles. The main chorus was supposed to say “the sun shines on LA,” but it ended up saying “the sun shines on the bay.” After Perry joined the band, they reworked the song to take place in a different setting.
The breathtaking view of the sunrise that Perry took in from the opposite portion of the Golden Gate Bridge served as the impetus for the creation of the “bay” line.
2. “San Francisco by Scott McKenzie
“San Francisco” after it’s release, became the anthem of the 1967 Monterey International Pop Music Festival.
As a cordial request to attend the gathering, vocalist John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas penned and published the letter.
As a result of the song’s ascent to the fourth spot on the Billboard Top 100 Chart in 1967, it was widely regarded as one of the songs that best encapsulated the spirit of the Summer of Love.
Its lyrics about the counterculture prompted a large number of activists and people who called themselves “hippies” to wear flowers in their hair, regardless of whether or not they were going to San Francisco.
3. “San Francisco” by Jeanette MacDonald
A song called “San Francisco” extols the city for its many virtues, including its enduring character and warm disposition toward visitors.
It was composed for the film of the same name starring Clark Gable, which was released in 1936. In 1984, San Francisco chose this song as one of its two official city songs to represent the city.
The character of Jeanette MacDonald, who is a singer, works her way through the events of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake while performing at a nightclub that she works at in the film San Francisco. Throughout the course of the film, MacDonald gave six different performances of “San Francisco.”
The opening of Judy Garland’s cover for the issue published in 1954 paid homage to MacDonald’s San Francisco figure. At the annual commemorations of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the song is still performed and sung.
4. San Francisco Blues” by Peggy Lee
The song “San Francisco Blues” is not particularly blue at all, despite its heavy reliance on horns and its ability to convey a hip, big-city vibe.
This lively song tells the story of a woman who is determined to explore every inch of San Francisco, despite the fact that her lover is only interested in painting murals of certain locations.
In 1962, Peggy Lee included this track on her experimental album titled “Blues Cross Country,” which was released.
Each of the album’s twelve tracks offered a blues-influenced take on a different city located in the United States. “Fisherman’s Wharf,” another song by Lee that appeared on the same CD, was also about the Golden City.
5. “San Franciscan Nights” – Song by Eric Burdon and The Animals
This song titled “San Franciscan Nights” was written in opposition to the Vietnam War. It was influenced by McKenzie’s “San Francisco,” which was published during the Summer of Love.
Eric Burdon and The Animals were inspired by the substantial peace movement taking place in the United States, and they wanted to motivate their audience members in Europe to get involved.
At the beginning of the song, San Francisco was praised for its beauty, and it was recommended that listeners travel to San Francisco in order to “understand the song.”
The lyrics encourage the reader or listener to let go of hate and to hang on to love instead.
6. “Cold Wind” by Arcade Fire
The Canadian rock band Arcade Fire did not include their song “Cold Wind” on any of their studio albums when it was first released. The song was mostly unknown until it made its debut in the episode “Six Feet Under” on the HBO series.
The melancholy indie rock song “Cold Wind” offers a striking contrast to the majority of the songs that have been produced about the Golden City.
The song “Cold Wind,” which is tinged with melancholy and a sense of lost hope, encourages listeners who are going to San Francisco not to put flowers in their hair but rather to “leave some flowers on the gravestone.”
Even if the sun is shining and the radio is playing, the only thing the vocalist can feel and hear is the bitter wind.
7. “San Francisco…” by Village People
The group, ” Village People” had their first success with this amazing song which they performed. The group first recorded the song in 1977, before they had even formally established themselves as a band; it is about discovering freedom in San Francisco.
The song “San Francisco” achieved cult status among the disco world and came dangerously close to cracking the Billboard Hot 100. The chorus played a significant role in the song, and thus contributed in the song having a new and distinctive style at the time of its debut.
This style laid the groundwork for many of the other singles that the Village People had, such as “YMCA,” “Macho Man,” and “In the Navy.”
8. “San Fran” by Moses Sumney
Mid-City Island, the self-titled debut extended play by Moses Sumney, comes to a close with “San Francisco.” The songs on the album were recorded in their earliest forms; nevertheless, as Sumney performed them live, they evolved significantly.
It is interesting to note that the artist, who had spent his childhood in California, chose to place more of an emphasis on his presentation in “San Fran” rather than the actual topic.
The music is very back and uncomplicated. The song’s lyrics are about a person who is determined to follow their aspirations and won’t let anyone hold them back or clip their wings.
The final verse, however, brings about a shift in metaphor, picturing the subject of the song as an anchored boat in the bay rather than a person who has failed to realize their big city goals.