Feeling homesick or just want to further channel the San Francisco spirit when wistfully sitting on the dock of the Bay? San Francisco is a city that truly marches to the beat of our own drum, and when it comes to music, many artists have devoted melodies to capture our enchanting beauty and vibrant culture. These catchy quintessential songs in all diverse genres are the best at getting you in that magical SF mood.
If you're going to San Francisco / Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair / If you're going to San Francisco / You're gonna meet some gentle people there
Written by Mamas and the Papas member John Phillips and crooned by Scott McKenzie, this is perhaps the most iconic song that drew many into San Francisco's counterculture movement in the late 60's. Tune in and feel like you're part of the original Summer of Love while walking down historic Haight Ashbury, just don't forget your flower.
Well, I lost my head in San Francisco / Waiting for the fog to roll out / But I found it in a rain cloud / It was smiling down
San Francisco with early 2010's twee makes for this positively cheery song that makes you feel like the main character of your narrative. Put this on blast when you need an motivational melody that imbues some wanderlust and upbeat adventure.
I left my love in San Francisco (that's okay, I was bored anyway) / I left my love in the room (that's okay, I was born in L.A.)
This sweet ode is a light and delighfully singsongy tribute to the instant feeling of enthrallment here that needs no better song title. With a catchy chorus and lyrics that evoke reverence and reminiscing, its cuteness is a direct parallel to our own.
Fake tales of San Francisco / Echo through the air / And there's a few bored faces at the back, all / Wishing they weren't there
This Arctic Monkeys hit is a playful message that speaks on bands' performativity in claiming the city as profound inspiration while simultaneously creating inauthentic and disingenuous music. This is an amusing sardonic song that pokes fun on those who put out a false or pretentious identity to fit feel superior in San Francisco, reminding us all to live truthfully in our inclusive and judgment-free city.
I don't really mind the drive / But I think I'd rather die in Oakland, in Oakland / With my hands on two and ten / So I guess it all depends on Oakland, on Oakland
Childish Gambino/Donald Glover can do no wrong, and this mellow vibe makes you want to take a slow sunset drive around Oakland. Cruise down the titular Telegraph Avenue and admire the rich architecture, communities, and history to this infectious groove.
Little boxes on the hillside / Little boxes all the same / There's a pink one and a green one / And a blue one and a yellow one / And they're all made out of ticky-tacky / And they all look just the same
Inspired by the post-war rapid development of repetitive housing in Daly City, "Little Boxes" references the distinct beauty of these square homes lining our southern city hills. After hearing this endearingly quaint tune, you will definitely sing it in your mind every time you have to drive on the 101 in the peninsula and see these endless and perfectly-arranged rows.
Pay attention to the cracked streets and the broken homes / Some call it slums, some call it nice / I want to take you through a wasteland I like to call my home/ Welcome to paradise
We couldn't leave out our very own legendary Green Day! "Welcome to Paradise" is a classic 90's rock chart-topper that is fondly based on the band's time living in disheveled home together in Oakland. While the home may not have been the most pristine, it is a true representation of a facet of Oakland that cannot be overlooked or taken at face value.
As Billie Joe Armstrong described it, "it's no place you want to walk around at night, but it's a neat warehouse where you can play basketball and stuff."
When all the city lights / Blind your eyes tonight / Are you feeling better now?
This reflective song describes the Decemberists' lead singer's time attending our Grace Cathedral Church for a funeral on New Years Day. It is equally somber as it is appreciative of the small delights that both life and San Francisco offer, evoking a sense of reverence towards the beauty of aspects otherwise mundane.
Sitting On the Dock of The Bay - Otis Redding (1968)
I left my home in Georgia / Headed for the 'Frisco bay / 'Cause I've had nothing to live for / And look like nothin's gonna come my way
Next time you're by the coast for a stroll or a hike, take time, as this song invites, to just rest your bones and watch the ships roll in! No other song embodies the leisure and tranquility of looking out at our serene waters as this Otis Redding masterpiece, complete with his lovely whistling and the peaceful ambience of our calm tides.
I've been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan / I'm going home to my city by the Bay / I left my heart in San Francisco / High on a hill, it calls to me / To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars / The morning fog may chill the air, I don't care
Of course we couldn't leave this one out! Inducted into the US Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2018, Tony Bennett's golden voice is like auditory velvet, embracing all of our city's beauty, which to him effortlessly New York City and Paris (we agree).
Whether you are a tourist or a local, listening to this will always invigorate you with our city's timeless charm.
No matter what genre of music you prefer, no one can resist singing about our city's captivating magic which endlessly continues to allure, inspire, and enliven, so don't be afraid to belt these bops out!
Photography by: Henry Be/Unsplash