50 Love Songs To U.S. Cities

In a world overwhelmingly filled with love songs, some of the most beautiful, poignant, and often overlooked are those heartfelt odes not to people but to places. There is something special about the devoted and at times tormented love we have for the cities we come from or that we choose to call home. On this playlist—broken up by region below—Jenny Lewis croons of LA’s palm trees bowing their heads and welcoming her home, James Murphy hesitantly and heart-wrenchingly breaks up with a changing NYC, and Will Smith invites us to party in the city where the heat is on. Let them be your tour guides as this playlist takes you on a mini musical tour of U.S. cities.

Some Disclaimers:
1. There may be a bit of a hometown bias here, but I can’t help it if NYC is clearly better than has more residents than other cities, and therefore a lot of songs about it.
2. Re: complaints about regional distinctions—I hear you, and you’re right, D.C. is not the South, but this is a playlist and we’re trying to keep things wikipedia-simple.

New York:
“Manhattan” — Ella Fitzgerald
“Manhattan” — Cat Power
“Talkin’ New York” — Bob Dylan
“The Apple Stretching” — Grace Jones
“Empire State of Mind” — Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys
“I Love NYC” — Andrew W.K.
“Empire State” — Fleetwood Mac
“New York City” — They Might Be Giants
“Brooklyn” — Mos Def
“New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” — LCD Soundsystem

California:
“Let Me Back In” — Rilo Kiley
“Los Angeles, I’m Yours” — The Decemberists
“Drinking in L.A.” — Bran Van 3000
“Angeles” — Elliott Smith
“Under the Bridge” — Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” — Dionne Warwick
“Save Me, San Francisco” — Train
“(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco” — Tony Bennett

The Northeast:
“Atlantic City” — Bruce Springsteen
“Dirty Water” — The Standells [Boston] “Lonely Financial Zone” — Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers [Boston] “Ladies of Cambridge” — Vampire Weekend
“Streets of Philadelphia” — Bruce Springsteen
“Fall in Philadelphia” — Hall & Oates

The South & The South Atlantic:
“Chocolate City” — Parliament [DC] “Washington, D.C.” — The Magnetic Fields
“Baltimore” — Nina Simone
“Welcome to Atlanta” — Jermaine Dupri, Diddy, Snoop Dogg
“Miami” — Will Smith
“Memphis” — The Milk Carton Kids
“New Orleans” — Portugal. The Man
“Waco” — The Mountain Goats
“El Paso” — Grateful Dead
“Devil Town” — Bright Eyes [Austin, TX]

The Midwest:
“Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” — Frank Sinatra
“Sweet Home Chicago” — Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
“Dear Chicago” — Ryan Adams
“Oh Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)” — Sufjan Stevens
“Milwaukee” — Maritime
“True Dreams of Wichita” — Soul Coughing
“Minneapolis” — Afrokeys
“Cleveland Rocks” — Presidents of the United States of America

The West:
“Starwood in Aspen” — John Denver
“Telluride” — Laura Stevenson
“Viva Las Vegas” — Elvis Presley
“Portland” — The Replacements
“Light Rail Coyote” — Sleater-Kinney [Portland, OR] “Rose Parade” — Elliott Smith [Portland, OR] “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” — Nirvana
“Seattle Ain’t Bullshittin'” — Sir Mix-A-Lot

Of course, this list is far from comprehensive — know a song you think should be on it? Comment below or tweet us at @litdarling!

Sara Iacovelli
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