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HERES A TRAVEL TIP YOU WONT FIND IN FODORS: For a completely localized experience, it helps to be prepared with the right song for after you land. So when you touch down in a new town, slip in some earbuds and hit play on a singular ditty of the city: maybe the Clashs London Calling for overseas jaunts or Tom Waits Jersey Girl when you reach Newark. Weve matched eight U.S. cities with their perfect musical pairings songs that point out landmarks, were written by hometown artists or just encapsulate a citys spirit to welcome you the right way.
Hotel Yorba, the White Stripes
From: White Blood Cells, 2001
Motown wasnt the only thing born in the Motor City. Detroit was also the countrys first garage-rock epicenter, and hometown duo the White Stripes has always shined by combining the best of the citys musical extremes. This rollicking tune has a particular attachment to the titular Detroit hotel; the band recorded it in room 206.
Burn On, Randy Newman
From: Sail Away, 1972
Newmans tribute to Cleveland comes complete with his signature somber piano play, and the songs dire tone makes sense; after all, Burn On is dedicated to when the citys big river, the Cuyahoga, caught fire in 1969. Forty years later, its metaphors of light and fire could more kindly apply to the bustling citys growth and its hip Lakewood neighborhood.
Twilight in Boston, Jonathan Richman
From: I, Jonathan, 1992
Singer-songwriter Richman grew to cult fame in Boston with his peculiar twists on pop-rock in the 1980s, only to record this solemn, acoustic ode to his hometown while in California the following decade. In his baritone-beatnik fashion, he recalls every detail of his old Beantown strolls with long, homesick pauses: Taking a left, going by the Fenway, by the Marshland Park.
Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
From: The Blueprint 3, 2009
Sinatras classic take on the big city rings hollow these days, while todays rock and rap stars act like the Big Apple took a bite out of them. Wheres the love? Enter Jay-Z, Brooklyns most well-known musician of the modern era, who celebrates the citys landmarks and riffs equally about its struggle and shine. Im out of Bed-Stuy, home of that boy Biggie, he raps. Now I live on Billboard and I brought my boys with me.
San Francisco Blues, Peggy Lee
From: Blues Cross Country, 1962
Lee pines for plenty of America on her Blues Cross Country record, and shes particularly sweet on Frisco as she lists off every place in town shed like to visit while a trumpet-fueled big band blares behind her. But even her thick, sweet voice cant convince her Bay-loving beau to stop painting the Golden Gate Bridge and come along with her. As long as he paints that bridge, she laments, he might as well be on Alcatraz.
Black Hole Sun, Soundgarden
From: Superunknown, 1994
Seattles biggest bands of the 1990s didnt write songs about local destinations like Pike Place Market or Lake Washington, so this song is the closest road warriors will get: an idyllic grunge classic full of trademark guitar feedback that mines the Seattle cliché of endless precipitation. Wont you come and wash away the rain?
Night Life, Elvis Presley
From: Elvis Double Features: Viva Las Vegas and Roustabout, 1993
Wrong Elvis song for Sin City, you say? Listen again. The slinky pace of this 1964 tune, fueled by a full brass band and the raspy, fuzz-guitar sound of the era, fits like a velvet suit in any Vegas lounge. And so the King struts, taunting your eventual gambling losses by singing, You cant be a quitter when youre caught up in the glitter of the nightlife!
Graceland, Paul Simon
From: Graceland, 1986
Simons melancholy trip to Elvis Presleys estate speaks to a musical pilgrimage on which he is accompanied by the ghosts of his country and blues heroes as well as his lifes tribulations. The music, the destinations and his memories well up together in appropriate fashion. Maybe Ive a reason we all will be received in Graceland, he sings.