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Six Songs and Albums about San Francisco
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Six Songs and Albums about San Francisco

Picture of Amanda Chain
Updated: 11 December 2015
The Emerald City is one of the most captivating cities in the world, inspiring artists, designers, and musicians a like. It should come as no surprise to those who have seen the Golden Gate for themselves and the sparkling Sausalito on the other side of the bay, that the city has been the subject of several albums. Here is our list of the top six!

Keep Deep in the Hoopla, Starship

When people hear the song “We Built This City,” it is not apparently obvious that the city in which Starship is referring to is actually San Francisco. The lyrics specifically refer to the Golden Gate Bridge and a “City by the Bay.” What’s more is that San Francisco is actually the hometown for the group. However, ambiguous the lyrics seem to be several radio stations attempted to turn the city into being specific to them making the song appear to resonate and identify with nearly every city in America, but true to their roots, Starship wrote one of their most famous songs about The Emerald City and dedicated their first album to their hometown.

San Francisco (You’ve Got Me), The Village People

Although The Village People are famous for their hit “YMCA,” their first song was “San Francisco (You’ve Got Me).” It was officially released in 1977 as the lead single for their debut album entitled Village People, but like its popular namesake it was all the rage as well. It really catapulted the charts when it was combined in a club medley “San Francisco / In Hollywood.” The disco group always had a special affinity for the city and “San Francisco” peaked at number 2 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Chart. The group went on to be champions for the LGBT community with their music as a recognizable anthem for gay culture.

Save Me, San Francisco, Train

One of the most recently released songs on this list includes the popular “Save Me, San Francisco” by the American rock group Train. “Save Me, San Francisco” was the fifth and final song released in 2011 off of the groups comeback album of 2009 entitled Save Me, San Francisco. Written by Dave Katz, Sam Hollander, and Pat Monahan, the song harkens back to the groups origins in the city. The song takes on a greater significance as the group founded a wine company in 2011 with the same name as the album. The business venture sells wines from California with titles of various songs, giving a portion of the proceeds to support families of children who are suffering from cancer and other potentially terminal diseases.

Sittin” On The Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding

Otis Redding was a man of all seasons, and his music was pivotal during 1960s changing America. He wrote “(Sittin” On) The Dock of the Bay” with guitarists Steve Cropper only a few days before his untimely death in an accidental plane crash. Full of heart and soul, the song spoke to not only loneliness, but the seaming waywardness of the decade, full of constant change and flux. The album was released in 1968 and became the first posthumous single to hit the top of all the music charts in the United States. Along with “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” “Sittin” On The Dock of the Bay” was recognized on the 2001 Recording Industry Association of America/National Endowment for the Arts” list of the most historically noteworthy songs of the twentieth century where it placed just ahead of Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

I Left My Heart in San Francisco, Tony Bennett

One of the world’s greatest crooners, Tony Bennet adapted, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” written in the fall of 1953 by George Cory and Douglass Cross. Originally written for an opera singer, it was already a decade old by the time it Bennett came across it. In 1962, he released the song and album by the same title which he received numerous honors including Grammy Awards as Record of the Year and Best Male Vocal Performance. For good reason, it became one of Bennett’s most signature songs, expressing the epitome of an artistic style he honed in the 1950s. After this record, he experienced a career lull in the wake of the rise of rock music. Now, 89 he’s still receiving recognition for “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” as the song was recognized on an Recording Industry Association of America/National Endowment for the Arts” list of the most historically significant songs of the 20th Century where it placed right behind another song/album our list.

San Francisco Bay Blues, Jesse Fuller

Like many folk artists of the 1950s, Jesse Fuller had an unremarkable career, and despite writing one of the most famous American folk songs, passed into relative obscurity. He pursued music in his 60s after years of working odd jobs. Born in Georgia, and raised in an abusive home, he left the South for the West and made Oakland, California is adopted home. He wrote “San Francisco Bay Blues,” for a small label that never catapulted Fuller to much success, recognition for his talent would come much later. The song speaks to the post-World War II feeling of uncertainty and lack of assurance to the young people living in a time of instability. A visionary before his time, he invented the instrument the fotdella to accompany him in his solo performances. Both it and his guitar are now a part of the Smithsonian collection. Since then, the song has been covered and rerecorded by some of the world’s most talented and famous artists including Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Janis Joplin, and John Lennon.

By: Amanda Chain