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Ten Great 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 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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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 BrokeAssStuart.com 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, Geek.com 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.

31 Comments

  1. February 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm — Reply

    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 — Reply

    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 — Reply

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

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

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

    • BAS Writers
      February 23, 2010 at 5:03 pm — Reply

      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 — Reply

    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 — Reply

    Zion I “The Bay.” Love it.

  7. February 23, 2010 at 5:14 pm — Reply

    Titus Andronicus-“Arms Against Atrophy”

  8. BAS Writers
    February 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm — Reply

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

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

    The Orange Peels-“Back in San Francisco”

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

    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 — Reply

    “Save Me, San Francisco” by Train

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

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

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

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

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

    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 — Reply

    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 — Reply

    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 — Reply

    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 — Reply

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

  19. BAS Writers
    February 24, 2010 at 11:19 am — Reply

    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 — Reply

    Hello Saferide’s “San Francisco

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NqrleFU2zo

  21. February 28, 2010 at 11:56 am — Reply

    x3 for Grace Cathedral Hill by the Decemberists

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

    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 — Reply

    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. BAS Writers
    March 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm — Reply

    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 — Reply

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

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

    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. Bfernathome
    June 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm — Reply

    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.

  28. transistersistor
    July 22, 2014 at 5:19 pm — Reply

    “San Francisco” by Foxygen
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq19haZ0w7s

  29. The Most Known
    November 11, 2014 at 12:53 pm — Reply

    San Francisco by Zorge band http://youtu.be/TJzWdMZj0Qg

  30. theeeyez
    August 24, 2015 at 2:03 pm — Reply

    “Tenderloin” by Rancid

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