Discussion:
I left my heart in Sutton Coldfield
(too old to reply)
MC
2013-03-18 06:18:17 UTC
Permalink
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?

A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
--
"If you can, tell me something happy."
- Marybones
James Hogg
2013-03-18 06:51:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
"Nottamun Town" was a big hit some time ago.

But your observation is correct. I've noticed that Ireland has far more
folk songs and popular songs in praise of places than England has.
--
James
Athel Cornish-Bowden
2013-03-18 07:33:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to
my ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
It seems to have little to do with the inherent attractiveness of the
place. If they can write a popular song about Gary, Indiana they could
surely write one about Stockport or Rotherham.
--
athel
Evan Kirshenbaum
2013-03-18 08:01:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so
few about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural
to my ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it
existed) would seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
It seems to have little to do with the inherent attractiveness of the
place. If they can write a popular song about Gary, Indiana they could
surely write one about Stockport or Rotherham.
I wonder what's the most populous US city which doesn't lend itself to
a title in my collection.

New York, New York
Coming into Los Angeles
Sweet Home Chicago

Ah. It appears to be Houston. That was too early

Philadelphia Freedom
By the Time I get to Phoenix
San Antonio Rose

Nothing for San Diego

Comboy Hat in Dallas
Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

No Jacksonville
No Indianapolis
No Austin

I Left My Heart in San Francisco
Columbus Stockade Blues
Fort Worth Jail

No Charlotte ("Charlotte Sometimes" isn't about the city)

Detroit Rock City
Asshole From El Paso
Memphis Blues
Please Come to Boston
Seattle Hunch [no words, best I could do]
Denver
The Lady Came From Baltimore

No Washington? Really?

That's the top 25.
--
Evan Kirshenbaum +------------------------------------
Still with HP Labs |As the judge remarked the day that
SF Bay Area (1982-) | he acquitted my Aunt Hortense,
Chicago (1964-1982) |To be smut
|It must be ut-
***@gmail.com |Terly without redeeming social
| importance.
http://www.kirshenbaum.net/ | Tom Lehrer
Lewis
2013-03-18 10:34:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so
few about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural
to my ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it
existed) would seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
It seems to have little to do with the inherent attractiveness of the
place. If they can write a popular song about Gary, Indiana they could
surely write one about Stockport or Rotherham.
I wonder what's the most populous US city which doesn't lend itself to
a title in my collection.
New York, New York
Coming into Los Angeles
Sweet Home Chicago
Ah. It appears to be Houston. That was too early
There's a country song which was inflicted upon me several years ago.
I'm nearly positive the name of it had to be "Houston". Of course,
Houston is mentioned in Midnight Special. According to google Dean
Martin had a song "Going Back to Houston".
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Nothing for San Diego
Jackin' in San Diego from South Park?
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
No Jacksonville
No Indianapolis
No Austin
Hmm. There have to be old cowboy songs with Austin in the title, right?
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
I Left My Heart in San Francisco
Columbus Stockade Blues
Fort Worth Jail
No Charlotte ("Charlotte Sometimes" isn't about the city)
What about Charlotte the Harlot? No? Sure?
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Detroit Rock City
Asshole From El Paso
Memphis Blues
Please Come to Boston
Seattle Hunch [no words, best I could do]
Denver
The Lady Came From Baltimore
No Washington? Really?
Welcome to DC and The Washington Post March (Does a Souza march count?)
--
Stomach in! Chest out! on your marks! get set! GO! Now, now that you're
free, what are you gonna be? Who are you gonna see? And where, where
will you go, and how will you know you didn't get it all wrong?
Guy Barry
2013-03-18 08:37:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by James Hogg
But your observation is correct. I've noticed that Ireland has far more
folk songs and popular songs in praise of places than England has.
Scotland seems to have a few: "I belong to Glasgow", "Bonnie Dundee"
and "The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen" - although the last was
actually written in the 1950s by an Englishwoman who'd never set foot
in the place!

--
Guy Barry
Jack Campin
2013-03-18 10:40:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Guy Barry
Post by James Hogg
But your observation is correct. I've noticed that Ireland has far more
folk songs and popular songs in praise of places than England has.
Scotland seems to have a few: "I belong to Glasgow", "Bonnie Dundee"
and "The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen" - although the last was
actually written in the 1950s by an Englishwoman who'd never set foot
in the place!
There isn't that much difference, when you realize that most songs
about places reference much smaller locations than whole cities.
There aren't many songs about London or Edinburgh, but there are
thousands that refer to particular places in London or Edinburgh.

From my website:

http://www.campin.me.uk/Embro/Webrelease/Embro/04places/04places.htm

(I spent years tracking down what topical music had to say about the
history of Edinburgh. I considered taking on London as a followup,
but it would have taken me at least ten years to work through all the
sources and I'd have had to move there).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
e m a i l : j a c k @ c a m p i n . m e . u k
Jack Campin, 11 Third Street, Newtongrange, Midlothian EH22 4PU, Scotland
mobile 07800 739 557 <http://www.campin.me.uk> Twitter: JackCampin
Tony Cooper
2013-03-18 11:03:53 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 18 Mar 2013 01:37:02 -0700 (PDT), Guy Barry
Post by Guy Barry
Post by James Hogg
But your observation is correct. I've noticed that Ireland has far more
folk songs and popular songs in praise of places than England has.
Scotland seems to have a few: "I belong to Glasgow", "Bonnie Dundee"
and "The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen" - although the last was
actually written in the 1950s by an Englishwoman who'd never set foot
in the place!
The totally official state song of Florida is "Swanee River (Old Folks
at Home)". It was written by Stephen Foster who never put foot in
Florida. In fact, originally Foster wrote the song about a different
river in a different state but changed it to Swanee because it scanned
better. (Some spell the river "Swannee)

Further, Foster's lyrics are considered to be racist and have been
modified over the years by various groups performing the song, but the
official lyrics remain racist.

obAue: Does one "set foot" or "put foot"? I always stumble over
that.
--
Tony Cooper - Orlando FL
the Omrud
2013-03-18 11:10:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Cooper
The totally official state song of Florida is "Swanee River (Old Folks
at Home)". It was written by Stephen Foster who never put foot in
Florida. In fact, originally Foster wrote the song about a different
river in a different state but changed it to Swanee because it scanned
better. (Some spell the river "Swannee)
Further, Foster's lyrics are considered to be racist and have been
modified over the years by various groups performing the song, but the
official lyrics remain racist.
obAue: Does one "set foot" or "put foot"? I always stumble over
that.
set.

As far as I'm aware, neither Warrington nor Cheshire has a song,
official or otherwise.
--
David
Dr Nick
2013-03-18 07:27:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
It's a good question - putting Durham Town to one side.
Post by MC
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
The same way that Hot Fuzz becomes hysterically funny just by putting a
US thriller-style shoot out in a British supermarket.

I think part of it is the general thing of foreign stuff being romantic
(see English in advertising, the recent discussions on apostrophes
etc) and part of it is general British self-deprecatory humour.

Put them together and you have a recipe for bathos.

I'm leaving (of) Liverpool out of this - but it has a sort of honorary
US status when talking about popular music anyway.
Evan Kirshenbaum
2013-03-18 07:44:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so
few about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural
to my ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed)
would seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
I see a few in my collection:

Last Train to London (ELO)
London Calling (The Clash)
Lulluby of London (The Pogues)
I'm Trying to Make London My Home (Sonny Boy Williamson)
Streets of London (Roger Whittaker)

Rumble in Brighton (Stray Cats)
Brighton Rock (Queen)

The Guns of Brixton (The Clash)

Winchester Cathedral (CSN)

Durham Town (Roger Whittaker)

Long Haired Lover from Liverpool (The Osmonds)

Newcastle Jam (Crowded House)

Oxford Town (Bob Dylan)

Belfast Child (Simple Minds)
--
Evan Kirshenbaum +------------------------------------
Still with HP Labs |...as a mobile phone is analogous
SF Bay Area (1982-) |to a Q-Tip -- yeah, it's something
Chicago (1964-1982) |you stick in your ear, but there
|all resemblance ends.
***@gmail.com | Ross Howard

http://www.kirshenbaum.net/
Peter Duncanson [BrE]
2013-03-18 11:44:32 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 18 Mar 2013 00:44:19 -0700, Evan Kirshenbaum
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so
few about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural
to my ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed)
would seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
What is notable about this list is the number of songs by outsiders.
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Last Train to London (ELO)
English but their initial success (5 albums) was in the US.
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
London Calling (The Clash)
English
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Lulluby of London (The Pogues)
Irish
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
I'm Trying to Make London My Home (Sonny Boy Williamson)
American
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Streets of London (Roger Whittaker)
Kenyan
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Rumble in Brighton (Stray Cats)
American
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Brighton Rock (Queen)
English (even though Freddy Mercury was from Zanzibar via India)
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
The Guns of Brixton (The Clash)
English
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Winchester Cathedral (CSN)
American
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Durham Town (Roger Whittaker)
Kenyan
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Long Haired Lover from Liverpool (The Osmonds)
American
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Newcastle Jam (Crowded House)
NZ-Oz
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Oxford Town (Bob Dylan)
American
Post by Evan Kirshenbaum
Belfast Child (Simple Minds)
Scottish

The stereotypical explanation is that outsiders: Americans, Irish, etc,
are more sentimental (about towns) than the native British particularly
the English.

(For this purpose Liverpudlians are transplanted Irish.)
--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)
Guy Barry
2013-03-18 08:26:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
As amply demonstrated by the following:



Where did you first come across the line "I left my heart in Sutton
Coldfield", by the way? I'm sure it was the title of a 1980s radio
programme on this very subject, and a Google search leads me to this
highly apposite blog post:

http://stevyncolgan.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/sweet-home-high-wycombe.html

--
Guy Barry
the Omrud
2013-03-18 08:51:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
Donizetti wrote an operetta entitled "Emilia di Liverpool".

I have a vague memory that Albert Finney recorded a song about Salford,
which is also the subject of "Dirty Old Town" by Ewan MacColl.
--
David
James Hogg
2013-03-18 09:13:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by the Omrud
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
Donizetti wrote an operetta entitled "Emilia di Liverpool".
I have a vague memory that Albert Finney recorded a song about Salford,
which is also the subject of "Dirty Old Town" by Ewan MacColl.
Richard Thompson has returned to Salford on his latest album with a good
song called "Salford Sunday"
--
James
Peter Young
2013-03-18 09:50:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by the Omrud
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
Donizetti wrote an operetta entitled "Emilia di Liverpool".
And an operatic tenor (John Shirley-Quirk, if I remember right) had a
canal boat called after this opera. I came across it, and did a
momentary double-take, when on a canal holiday in 1976.

Peter.
--
Peter Young, (BrE, RP), Consultant Anaesthetist, 1975-2004.
(US equivalent: Certified Anesthesiologist)
Cheltenham and Gloucester, UK. Now happily retired.
http://pnyoung.orpheusweb.co.uk
musika
2013-03-18 11:48:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Young
Post by the Omrud
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
Donizetti wrote an operetta entitled "Emilia di Liverpool".
And an operatic tenor (John Shirley-Quirk, if I remember right) had a
canal boat called after this opera. I came across it, and did a
momentary double-take, when on a canal holiday in 1976.
Shirley-Quirk was a baritone. I had the honour of attending a
Masterclass with him when I was at RNCM.
His version of /Five Mystical Songs/ is still my favourite.
--
Ray
UK
Guy Barry
2013-03-18 10:55:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by the Omrud
I have a vague memory that Albert Finney recorded a song about Salford,
which is also the subject of "Dirty Old Town" by Ewan MacColl.
And of course Ewan MacColl also gave us "The Manchester Rambler" - but
that was about getting out of the city. Perhaps the English tend to
romanticize the countryside more?

--
Guy Barry
R H Draney
2013-03-18 09:40:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
Am I truly the only one here who knows about this?



Or a bit more seriously:



....r
--
Me? Sarcastic?
Yeah, right.
Adam Funk
2013-03-18 10:48:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Why are there so many popular songs about cities in the US and so few
about cities in the UK?
A song with Memphis Tennessee in the title seems perfectly natural to my
ears, but a song about Coventry or Exeter (even if it existed) would
seem ridiculous before I even heard a note...
John Shuttleworth:

"You're like Manchester, you've got Strangeways.
But you've got Styal too, and I miss you while I'm away."


--
Master Foo said: "A man who mistakes secrets for knowledge is like
a man who, seeking light, hugs a candle so closely that he smothers
it and burns his hand." --- Eric Raymond
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