Right up there with love and partying, places are one of the most popular subjects for musicians to write songs about. Songs about cities, neighborhoods, and even individual streets have a way of transporting, and connecting with listeners. Hearing someone belt out an ode to your hometown—or someplace you’ve never been but always wanted to visit—can be an emotional experience. But don’t take our word for it. We recently asked Atlas Obscura readers about their favorite songs about places, and the response was overwhelming!
We received hundreds of nominations ranging from descriptive musical tours of entire towns to heart-rending breakup songs that just happen to mention a specific place. In case you were curious, by far the most beloved song about a place was the John Denver classic, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Songs about Texas and California outnumbered songs about any other places, although New York was another popular subject. But you also wrote to us to recommend songs about subjects like Bobcaygeon, Ontario, the beaches of Hawaii, and the streets of Barcelona.
Take a look at some of the best reader descriptions of their favorite songs immediately below, and then keep scrolling to find a Spotify playlist of 100+ songs about places suggested by you! Since we certainly haven’t included every song ever written about a place, if you have a favorite song about a place that you’d like to share, head over to our new community forums and tell us about it.
“Fall in Philadelphia” by Hall & Oates
“The song came out while I was in high school. For me, the song equals nostalgia, civic pride, and the imagery of fall in this city. [It’s] poignant.” — Amy Keyser, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“One Great City!” by The Weakerthans
“It’s a love/hate song to Winnipeg, a city I’ve been to a number of times and have alternately liked and hated myself. The song’s writer, John K. Samson, is a native of the city. He captures perfectly in the lyrics the yearning and exasperation one feels for a hometown that’s never quite lived up to its potential. Winnipeg can be strikingly beautiful at times (come visit it in the fall when the landscape is changing from green to red and gold to brown), but the winters can be horribly bleak and isolating, and the summers, humid and buggy. It’s surprising then that “One Great City!” is such a lovely, funny song.” — Hisaye, Bay Area, California
“Amarillo by Morning” by George Strait
“It’s about the greatest hometown on the planet.” — Jenny Sumsion, Utah
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver
“Ok, so it wasn’t actually written with West Virginia in mind. We West Virginians know this. We don’t care. I’ve lived in WV all my life, minus six years when I lived overseas. During that time, this song used to make me cry, was so homesick.” — Melody Siracusa, Morgantown, West Virginia
“I Love L.A.” by Randy Newman
“It is PERFECTLY SoCal in the ’80s.” — Peter Newton, Phoenix, Arizona
“Nutbush City Limits” by Tina Turner
“Whenever I hear it, it makes me wonder what Nutbush is like. And why anyone would want to write a song about it.” — Ian Jarrett, Perth, Australia
“Thrice All American” by Neko Case
“I’ve never been to Tacoma, but I think this song was made for me, a foreign-born kid who moved to the U.S. I started falling in love with the United States, because it could inspire such heart-rending loyalty from someone. It wasn’t something that I’d personally felt before!” — Patrick L., Chicago, Illinois
“Twin Falls” by Built to Spill
“I lived in Twin for a while. This song captures the melancholy nostalgia of leaving behind a small town childhood.” — Zac Castro , Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
“Youngstown” by Bruce Springsteen
“I grew up in Youngstown, which was a thoroughly bleak place. I’ve never met Bruce Springsteen, but after listening to this song (and many others), I feel like he knows me.” — Vince Guerrieri, Elyria, Ohio