Sitting in the knee doctor's office today desultorily flipping through a travel magazine, I find an article about the songs that *are* the country they come from. Quite a number for the USA, since the U.S. is more than one country obviously; one I'd never heard of for Canada; a single song for the whole of Africa (The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which is cool but really has nothing to say to Algeria or Egypt or the Sudan or...) and nothing for Japan. I disagreed with most of them too.
See, what they wanted was *city* songs, but they had to go say 'country.'
Favourite place songs:
Four Strong Winds. Yes you have to belong to a certain generation to know it. I do.
Mon Pays, because it's a classic, silly.
Ontario: Helpless. Autumnal, melancholy, and... helpless. Really that song belongs to anywhere hereabouts, just that cities have their own songs. Paradoxically Toronto doesn't have a song for me at all, but then I stopped listening to music in 1985.
Japan: Furusato You don't need to know that I get all choked up and wet-eyed whenever I hear this. It's like getting all choked up and wet-eyed over America the Beautiful- nothing an adult will admit to in public. Ditto Kimi ga yo, the only national anthem able to make me cry.
Tokyo Sabaku. Because it's the quintessential Tokyo song.
Road/ Nandemo nai yoru no koto. Because it's *my* quintessential Tokyo song. Nothing out of the ordinary but nothing out of the ordinary is happiness
USA: America Simon & Garfunkel. Because obviously.
New York City:
On Broadway. My favourite NY song
Twelve-thirty. Because I've no use for the canyon, actually, but the church steeple strikes me as cool. Equally California Dreamin' which to my mind isn't about California at all.
The Boxer and Hazy Shade of Winter. Because Simon and Garfunkel sing the New York I saw even when they're singing about something else.
Skeletons, even if I don't like Rickie Lee Jones.
Uptown. The Crystals. Ahh, good times that are no more and possibly never were.
Los Angeles: Carmelita by Warren Zevon. Because I think LA is a nightmare. I could include Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel here but in my universe it belongs to Tokyo.
Ferry Cross the Mersey. You needn't tell me it's place specific, and a place I've never been to. For my generation Liverpool *was* England.
Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter. Aghh. Don't ask me to explain. This is the other bit of England I saw and read growing up, a cozy domestic neighbourhood place. People who live in suburban bungalows or city apartments don't write songs like that. It goes with Giles cartoons in my head. And yes it's probably Coronation St as well but I've never seen a single ep of that, you know?
Dare I add...
Greensleeves? 'And the royalties... go to Royalty.'
A Transport of Delight. I often have occasion to sing about 'them jackal taxi drivers' while on my bike.
The trouble with classic Paris songs is that they're all Piaf and I don't really like Piaf. But obviously The Poor People of Paris is the automatic Parisian association anywhere.
(I have other songs associated with places I've never been and no songs associated with other places I have. Bruce Springsteen is heartland America in my head but there are no Amsterdam songs at all. These will have to do for the nonce.)