Musement takes a look at eight songs you should listen to for travel inspiration.
Do you need to get into a particular travel mood before you hit the road? Does flipping through photos or reading a book about your destination help appease some of the impatience for your departure? If so, and you’re looking for inspiration for future trips or simply like traveling through the lens of music, here are eight internationally famous songs about eight different cities around the world.
1. New York, New York by Frank Sinatra
First sung in 1977 by Liza Minnelli in Martin Scorsese’s film bearing the same name, this song didn’t become such a worldwide hit until Frank Sinatra crooned it two years later. “New York, New York” highlights the fascinating power of this bustling, magnetic city.
2. Paris by Camille
There are numberous songs about Paris, and most have become part of French culture, including Jacques Dutronc’s “Il est cinq heures, Paris s’éveille” (“It’s 5 o’clock, Paris is Waking Up”) or the famous “Complainte de la butte” (“The Lament of the Hill”) whose refrain we French just can’t get out of our heads: Les escaliers de la butte sont durs aux miséreux – Les ailes des moulins protègent les amoureux (The staircase up the hill is hard on the destitute / The wings of the windmill protect the lovers). However, we want to highlight a contemporary song on this list “Paris” by Camille, which reminds us why we simultaneously both love and hate this capital and, above all, why we cannot abandon her for too long.
3. London Calling by The Clash
It’s simply one of the world’s best-known, most-loved songs, a piece of rock history that thrills us every time we hear it, much like the anthem of a community to which we feel we necessarily belong. A manifesto that calls on the youth of London to wake up, participate in their city’s political life, and bury the remains of the past…it doesn’t get more timeless than this!
4. San Francisco by Scott Mackenzie
This song full of promises recounts the summer of ’67, a summer when anything was possible in California’s hippie counterculture, an oasis of peace and love far from the hostility around the rest of the world. This is the same titular city that Maxime le Forestier sang about a few years later with the “blue house standing against a hill” in which we all dreamed of living in one day.
5. Piazza Grande, Lucio DallaIl
Surely the most internationally popular song by Lucio Dalla, one of Italy’s most cherished songwriters, particularly among the inhabitants of Bologna. Portraying the life of a homeless man on the main square of a big city, this song also conceals an interesting story of a newspaper: Piazza Grande, the first newspaper distributed on Italian streets, took its name from Lucio Dalla’s song. Established in Bologna in 1993, the newspaper was sold by homeless people and speaks of poverty, marginalization and social exclusion through articles, interviews, and commentary, giving a voice to a seldom-heard segment of the population.
6. Viva Las Vegas by Elvis Presley
This song is about Las Vegas, its casinos, slot machines, and women. The King was indeed not indifferent to the city of gambling and vices, and he performed there many times! “Viva Las Vegas” is also the name of a movie, which was launched a year later and has as its protagonist the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself. Of course, the same song is included on the film’s soundtrack.
7. Barcelona by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé
This song is about a terribly tragic fate, and the Catalan capital sponsored it in 1987 on behalf of Freddie Mercury to become the official song of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Unfortunately, the lead singer of Queen did not perform it during opening ceremony as he died of pneumonia eight months before the big date. This song, however, gave birth to a fascinating and revolutionary collaboration between the rock singer and lyrical opera singer Montserrat Caballé. A year before the request was made to Freddie Mercury, he had attended a performance of Montserrat Caballé, marveled by his singing. That’s why he chose the Catalan soprano to interpret “Barcelona” with him for the Olympics opening ceremony.
8. Houston # 1 by Coldplay
Songs are usually born for a reason. When written, composers are sometimes inspired by love or let nostalgia and sadness speak on their behalf, revealing their deepest secret inspirations and dreams. At other times, they write to support a cause or a city and its inhabitants, as was the case with this song. “Houston #1” was written in honor of the Texas city and victims of Hurricane Harvey which devasted the city in August 2017. Due to the aftermath, Coldplay was forced to cancel a date in Houston at that time.