Miss Expatria’s Top 10 Songs About Places

This list is a mixed bag, and different from my last one about songs that make me want to travel. These songs are more personal, and evoke places in time; some are about states of being; others are a mixture of circumstance and geography. But no matter where I am, listening to each of these songs transports me to a very specific location.

Make sure you let me know in the comments about the songs that take you to your favorite places without ever leaving your seat!

(I just realized I linked all these to open in the same window instead of in a new window. Sorry about that!)

Song: Sympathy for the Devil
Artist: Rolling Stones

Defines: Going through airport customs. I’m not sure why, but this is always the song that runs through my head from when I disembark the plane until I exit the airport. Very international dame of mystery, I suppose.
So if you meet me, have some courtesy
Have some sympathy and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse or I’ll lay your soul to waste
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name
But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game

Watch it here.

Song: Buenos Aires
Artist: Patti LuPone

Defines: In contrast to the above, this is the song that runs through my head whenever I arrive in a new city, and I take a taxi to the hotel. It must be a taxi; no one feels like a diva about to make history when they’re schlepping luggage onto a public bus.
Hello, Buenos Aires
Get this, just look at me dressed up, somewhere to go
We’ll put on a show
Take me in at your flood, give me speed, give me lights, set me humming
Shoot me up with your blood, wine me up with your nights, watch me coming
All I want is a whole lot of excess
Tell the singer this is where I’m playing

Watch it here. Ignore funny subtitles.

Song: Summer in Paris
Artist: Anggun and DJ Cam

Defines: Being alone on the Pont Neuf at sunset, July 28, 2003. Easily one of the top five days of my entire life. I dare anyone to walk around Paris in the summer, without a care in the world, and disagree that this song defines that feeling.
Un automne à London
Un hiver au Cap Vert
Jour de l’an à Milan
Toute ma vie…toute ma vie à Paris

Watch it here.

Song: B-Boy Bouillabaise (excerpt)
Artist: Beastie Boys

Defines: Dinkins-era New York. This song and the first season of Law & Order should be placed in a time capsule somewhere.
You read the New York Post, Fulton Street, downtown
Same faces every day but you don’t know their names
Party people goin’ places on the D train

Watch it here. (It’s a medley of sorts; the part I like is 2:12-4:10)

Song: Philadelphia Freedom
Artist: Elton John

Defines: The Philadelphia of my youth – the Bicentennial, the Flyers, Rocky. It seemed like the center of the universe.
I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom
From the day that I was born I waved the flag

Watch it here. Two words: Soul Train.

Song: Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town
Artist: Pearl Jam
Slipping into my favorite booth at the Point Diner after a long, long absence. Can you smell the coffee? Will you order breakfast, no matter what hour of the day?
I just wanna scream, hello
My God, it’s been too long
Never dreamed you’d return
But now here you are
And here I am
Hearts and thoughts, they fade away

Watch it here.

Song: Jersey Girl
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
The Jersey Shore. Tan skin, salt-air hair, the smell of hot sand and popcorn and suntan lotion, waiting for a date or a trip to the ice cream shop after your job on the boardwalk. Yes, I was a Jersey Girl. I suppose I still am!
Cause down the shore everything’s alright
Watch it here.

Song: Di sole e D’azzuro
Artist: Giorgia (state zitti, Gay Mafia!)
Late afternoon, late summer at Venezia stabilimento in Ostia, on the Med outside of Rome. Letting the funny conversations lullaby me into a sweet nap on my rented lettino.
Vorrei illuminarti l’anima
nel blu dei giorni tuoi più fragili, io ci sarò
come una musica,
come domenica di sole e d’azzurro

Watch it here.

Song: Perfect Day
Artist: Hoku
Walking through Villa Borghese in Rome at sunrise, a thing I did often when I lived nearby in my teensy studio. It’s a powerful thing to be 100% sure you’re going to have another perfect day.
They say that it’s just a phase
They tell me to act my age
Well I am
On this perfect day, nothing’s standing in my way
On this perfect day, when nothing can go wrong
It’s the perfect day, tomorrow’s gonna come too soon
I could stay forever as I am

Watch it here.

Song: It’s Getting Light Outside
Artist: Clearlake
Ok, this one is a bit strange. This song first came to my attention as part of a video Marco made about a trip to Madrid with Giovanni. But, when I think of this awesome video of Marco’s trip to Madrid with Mr. Apricot, this song that comes to mind. (Please note I was not on either of these trips, nor have I ever been to Madrid.) I have since co-opted this song to remind me of my own trip to Marbella with Mr. Apricot – as well as my girls’ weekend in Paris with MK. Phew! There will be a quiz.
I’d love to know
So tell me everything
I want to know exactly how you’ve been
Before you know
We’ll forget the time
And turn around and find we’ve talked all night
It’s getting light outside

Watch it here.


Song: Sunset Grill
Artist: Don Henley
The gilded cage that is Montpellier.
Maybe we’ll leave come springtime
Meanwhile, have another beer
What would we do without these jerks anyway
Besides, all our friends are here

Watch it here.


11 thoughts on “Miss Expatria’s Top 10 Songs About Places




  2. I like the beginning of this 2nd part of B-Boy Bouillabaisse. It drives the crowd CRAZY when they do it live. The bass is intense enough to stop your heart. 🙂

  3. Hello, I Love You – the Doors
    I was standing in my room in Clapham Common, London, one warm rainy night, and heard this song playing from somewhere out on the street.

    Maggie’s Farm – Bob Dylan
    I was walking in Haarlem, Netherlands, early on a Sunday morning, heading to the Frans Hals Museum. Maggie’s Farm was blasting out of a third-story flat onto a quiet street. I fully expected to hear someone yell “TURN THAT THE FUCK DOWN BEFORE I COME POUND YOUR HEAD IN!” but that never happened.

    Kid – The Pretenders

    I was staying at the Hotel Henri IV near the Pont Neuf in Paris – not the Ritz by any means, but fine for my basic needs – and the window faced a sort of air shaft. I could look down and see that many previous residents had been tossing their garbage into the air shaft over hundreds of years. I could hear a woman singing along with a recording of Kid – she must have had headphones on because I could only hear her voice.

    All Night Long – Lionel Richie
    This was playing on the radio when Gary & I got in a taxi at Termini and the taxi driver took us on a terror-filled drive to Hotel Pyramidi. I thought it would be Our Song Of Death, which is not the song I would choose to have playing at the moment of my demise.

    When You Walk Through Me – Ultravox!
    It’s warm tonight
    It rained tonight
    The windows are all opened wide
    Can’t see the clock to check the time
    Nothing is moving
    When you walk through me
    I almost lose me
    It’s so confusing
    When you walk through me…
    This makes me think of London, anytime, anywhere.

    Jungleland – Bruce Springsteen
    Times Square at 3 AM.

  4. So much WORD to “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.”

    “Crazy” by Gnarles Barkley
    Not my favorite song in the whole world, but it was popular when I went to Rome the first time. You would hear the song playing on the radio in the little cafes and I would be surprised each time I heard it.

    “O Mio Bambino Caro” from the opera Gianni Schichi.
    A song about my girl Florence. When the singer mentions the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno, I get goosebumps. And when I stumbled across the street Via Porta Rosa, also mentioned in the song, I got tears in my eyes. I’m the biggest sap ever.

    “Downtown Lights” by Annie Lennox.
    Driving through the hills of San Francisco with my mom and my Wild Aunt, this song reminds me of so many possibilites for my life when I was 23.

  5. What about “In My Room” by The Beach Boys! That qualifies as a place I love! When I think of my daughter I think of another place song, “Girl from Ipanema”…..tall and tan and young and lovely!

  6. voglio parlare al tuo cuore
    voglio vivere con te
    di sole e d’azzurroooooooooooooooo

    miaoo miaooo miaooooooooooo
    di sole e di miaooooo


  7. “Hey Jude” I can never hear this song without thinking of our 1970 trip to Europe when I was on a bus for 10 days as a chaperone, with the high school kids from the school where I worked. We had a fabulous bus driver who knew just 2 words of English. “Hey Jude” he had a tape of the song, and every so often while driving over the Alps or through an Italian countryside he would call out the title and put the tape on and start singing at the top if his lungs. Soon all the kids on the bus were joining in and so there we would be singing “la la la la la la la la, la la la la, Hey Jude across Europe.

  8. Anything Tito Puente takes me south of here. And anything Bobby Short takes me to a New York City that was different than the one I live in – a city of the past:

    I’ve never met you,
    But never doubt dear.
    I can’t forget you,
    I’ve thought you out dear.
    I know your profile, and
    I know the way you kiss.
    Just the thing I miss,
    On a night like this.

    Rogers & Hart – never gets old.

  9. Vienna by Billy Joel is so poignant that upon hearing it makes you contemplate your life and the direction you’re taking. Truly the most moving and evocative song about anywhere I have heard…
    “But you know that when the truth is told
    That you can get what you want or you can just get old
    You’re gonna kick off before you even get halfway through, ooh
    When will you realize…
    Vienna waits for you”

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