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The Ten Best Songs About San Francisco

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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 what you think the best songs about San Francisco are in the comments section.

San Francisco Bay Blues – Richie Havens: Even though he didn’t write this song, Richie Havens’ version is my favorite. His voice is just so soothing that it makes me wanna snuggle with someone or some shit. It won’t let me embed it unfortunately, but you can listen to the song right here.

The City – Richie Cunning: I know that I’ve totally been on Rich Cunning‘s jock lately, but seriously, have you heard this song?  Dude fucking nails it!

I’m Always Drunk in San Francisco – Nancy Wilson: You and me both Nancy. It won’t let me embed it unfortunately, but you can listen to the song right here.

Fake Tales of San Francisco – Arctic Monkeys: I don’t even know if this song is actually about SF, it’s just good. It won’t let me embed it unfortunately, but you can listen to the song right here.

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. Gotta give extra props for being a female guitar player back in the day.

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. It won’t let me embed it unfortunately, but you can listen to the song right here.

Hello San Francisco – Buddy Guy: Yeah, I guess by now you can tell I love the blues. Buddy is excellent on this. It won’t let me embed it unfortunately, but you can listen to the song right here.

Don’t Give Me No Bammer Weed – RBL Posse: It’s true, we don’t smoke that shit in the SFC. It won’t let me embed it unfortunately, but you can listen to the song right here.

San Francisco Nights – The Animals: Fucking Classic! But once again It won’t let me embed the song so you can hear it right here.

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 or link it.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.


  1. February 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    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. February 23, 2010 at 4:40 pm

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

    Connor Oberst & the Mystic Valley band-“Sausalito”

  3. February 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm

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

  4. Betty
    February 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm

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

    • Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
      February 23, 2010 at 5:03 pm

      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.

  5. February 23, 2010 at 5:04 pm

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

  6. j
    February 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Zion I “The Bay.” Love it.

  7. February 23, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Titus Andronicus-“Arms Against Atrophy”

  8. Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
    February 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Nice ones people! I love it! Keep ’em coming.

  9. Joel
    February 23, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    The Orange Peels-“Back in San Francisco”

  10. Joel
    February 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    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”).

  11. Mickey
    February 23, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    “Save Me, San Francisco” by Train

  12. Mickey
    February 23, 2010 at 8:09 pm

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

  13. Rob R
    February 23, 2010 at 10:56 pm

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

  14. Shannon
    February 24, 2010 at 9:02 am

    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.

  15. brian
    February 24, 2010 at 9:04 am

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

    Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – Hotel Huntington Sign

  16. Mary Ann Singleton
    February 24, 2010 at 9:09 am

    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.

  17. February 24, 2010 at 10:03 am

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

  18. Stephen
    February 24, 2010 at 10:22 am

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

  19. Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
    February 24, 2010 at 11:19 am

    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.

  20. February 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Hello Saferide’s “San Francisco

  21. February 28, 2010 at 11:56 am

    x3 for Grace Cathedral Hill by the Decemberists

  22. la la la laura
    March 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    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
    March 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    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. Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
    March 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    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
    July 14, 2010 at 4:58 pm

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

  26. Bfernathome
    June 9, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    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. […] out.   Lauren Sherman, Live & play here. Ten great songs about San Francisco:…This answer .Please specify the necessary improvements. Edit Link Text Show answer summary […]

  28. Katie
    February 8, 2012 at 11:51 am

    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!

  29. March 9, 2012 at 11:18 am

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

    (It’s pretty obscure 🙂

  30. Dufus
    March 9, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    “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.

  31. April 7, 2013 at 4:22 am

    […] broke-ass stuart’s goddam website: Ten great songs about San Francisco […]

  32. nacho615
    July 3, 2013 at 7:47 am

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

  33. Sara
    May 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    16th St. Dozens- Two Gallants
    San Francisco- The Mowgli’s
    Sittin on the Dock of the Bay by the-man-himself Otis Redding

  34. transistersistor
    July 22, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    “San Francisco” by Foxygen

  35. The Most Known
    November 11, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    San Francisco by Zorge band

  36. DVDA
    April 2, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Lee Oskar- San Francisco Bay

  37. Jonny Z
    December 26, 2016 at 4:50 pm
    • Cheryl
      December 26, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      Sam Johnson’s “The City” – “This, my friends, is the song MTV will use when they do establishing shots of the city in the next SF iteration of either Catfish or The Real World, whichever comes first. And if it’s not, well, more the fool them.” – SFist