Ten Great Songs About San Francisco

The other day I was on this page which is full of awesome quotes about San Francisco and it got me thinking of all the great songs written about our fair city.  So I’ve decided to share ten of my favorites in no particular order.  I also made sure to exclude the obvious ones like Journey, Otis Redding, and Tony Bennett, because those were givens.  Feel free to post some of yours in the comments section.  Also, big ups to this guy who also had the same idea

San Francisco Bay Blues – Richie Havens: Even though he didn’t write this song, Richie Haven’s is my favorite version.  His voice is just so soothing that it makes me wanna snuggle with someone or some shit.

The City – Richie Cunning: I know that I’ve totally been on RC’s jock lately, but seriously, have you heard this song?  Dude fucking nails it!  Unfortunately the only vid for it right now is this Warriors one.

I’m Always Drunk in San Francisco – Nancy Wilson: You and me both Nancy. (listen to the song here).

Fake Tales of San Francisco – Arctic Monkeys: I don’t even know if this song is actually about SF, it’s just good.

Bay Area Slang Top 100 (The Grinch Song) – Rafael Casal: A DOPE song explaining how the rest of the world steals Bay Area slang words.  Rafael Casal murders this track!

Frisco Town – Memphis Minnie: This is just awesome!  Old guitar blues at it’s best.  Plus wasn’t Memphis Minnie a lesbian?

Frisco Blues – John Lee Hooker: You can’t find many people cooler or classier than John Lee Hooker was.  You know he owned the Boom Boom Room right?  I knew you did.

Hello San Francisco – Buddy Guy: Yeah, I guess by now you can tell I love the blues.  It’s the second song on here and starts at about 4:40.

Don’t Give Me No Bammer Weed – RBL Posse: It’s true, we don’t smoke that shit in the SFC.

San Francisco Nights – The Animals: Fucking Classic!

And the WORST song about San Francisco:

We Built This City – Starship: This song makes me wish I didn’t have ears. No really, fuck this song.  I’m not even gonna put the stupid video.

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About the author

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".

34 Comments

  1. Mauigirl says:

    Great songs (love the Animals myself). I’d have to add two more – Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” – yes I know it’s trite, but so good – and “If You’re Going to San Francisco (Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair).” Another old fave of mine.

  2. Mike Garner says:

    Girls-”Life in San Fransisco” B-side on “Lust for Life” 7″

    Connor Oberst & the Mystic Valley band-”Sausalito”

  3. Mike Garner says:

    Arcade Fire’s “Cold Wind” is also about driving to SF on tour

  4. Betty says:

    what about Journey’s “Lights”?! God, I love that song, no matter how cliche it gets.

  5. Betty – It’s not a bad one. I actually mentioned it in the intro. I didn’t list it because I figured it was a given.

  6. Mike Garner says:

    Belle & Sebastian have a stanza about SF in a song called “Piazza, New York catcher,” on Dear Catastrophe Waitress.

  7. j says:

    Zion I “The Bay.” Love it.

  8. Mike Garner says:

    Titus Andronicus-”Arms Against Atrophy”

  9. Nice ones people! I love it! Keep ‘em coming.

  10. Joel says:

    The Orange Peels-”Back in San Francisco”

  11. Joel says:

    Also, I’m pretty sure that Lida Husik’s fantastic “Fly Stereophonic” is at least partiially about living in SF. At the least moreso than “Back in San Francisco” actually is (although the Orange Peels have a pretty good track about how hard it is to live in “Redwood City”).

  12. Mickey says:

    “Save Me, San Francisco” by Train

  13. Mickey says:

    Oh and that corny Christmas song “Christmas By The Bay” by Tim Hockenberry

  14. Rob R says:

    Grace Cathedral Hill by The Decemberists is a personal favorite of mine.

  15. Shannon says:

    finally someone hates that jefferson starship song as much as i do! i also want to throw some love to big brother and the holding company – combination of the two.

  16. brian says:

    The Lucksmiths – The Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco.

    Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – Hotel Huntington Sign

  17. Mary Ann Singleton says:

    16th & Valencia Roxie Music by Devendra Banhart. The lyrics have nothing to do with the Mission or SF as far as I can tell…but the name of the song is neat.

  18. Katy says:

    Ooh, all these are great songs. Let me add San Francisco BC by the Silver Jews. And 2x for Grace Cathedral Hill.

  19. Stephen says:

    Otis Redding: “Sitting on the dock of the bay”

  20. Shannon – I blame “we built this city” on cocaine, that new fangled thing called “synthesizers”, and the 80′s as a whole. Anyone who says it’s their favorite song is without a doubt a sociopath who probably mutilates animals.

  21. LC says:

    x3 for Grace Cathedral Hill by the Decemberists

  22. la la la laura says:

    Great list!! Thanks

    “Rendezvous – Potrero Hill.” Architecture In Helsinki.

    I keep waiting for a song to come out about Noe Valley, but I’m not sure if Milfs, Dilf, and Golden Retrievers are that inspirational…

  23. la la la laura says:

    PS, I got a Youtube ad on the “fucking awesome” Animals vid for “people mating with animals.”

    I think I need to clear my cookies now.

  24. La la la laura –

    That’s funny because I almost made this entire website about bestiality, but at the last moment decided to make it about cheap stuff.

  25. Jessica says:

    A bit late to the show but Brett Dennen’s ‘San Francisco’ is divine.

  26. Bfernathome says:

    I’m really home sick right now, and this list just cheered me up completely. Thanks for it. And for the laugh at the end there.

  27. Katie says:

    SUPER late to the game, but I’m a tour guide in San Francisco and I’ve been looking for some songs to play on the bus while we go over the Golden Gate (It’s too windy for anyone to hear me talking so I figured I might as well just throw a dance party on the bridge) Your list really helped me out! Now I’ve got an arsenal of songs I can chose from to adjust to the mood of the day. Oh, and by the way, if you need another one, “San Fran” by Kids of 88 is pretty fun. They’re a band from Australia, I believe. Saw them perform a couple months ago and they were so happy and grateful to be able to perform this song for the first time actually IN San Francisco. Keep bluesing out, btw, Stuart. Love it!

  28. Stuck in Sheboygan off my new album Hard Learned Truths is about SF.

    (It’s pretty obscure :)

  29. Dufus says:

    “Fillmore Street Boogie Woogie”-by Dave Alexander; “Leavin Memphis, Frisco Bound” by Jesse Fuller; “Who Needs The Peace Corps?” (a hilarious send-up of The Summer of Love) by Frank Zappa and The Mothers. Are Chris Isaak’s “San Francisco Days, San Francisco Nights” and “San Francisco (Open Your Golden Gate”) in the ‘given’ category? I’ve never heard anything about Memphis Minnie being a lesbian. She was married to three different guitar players each of whom recorded with her.

  30. nacho615 says:

    Cascada – San Francisco
    Catchy, Bubble Gum Pop, Dancey Song… Those Stupid songs we love! :)

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