Songs to Listen to Before You Go to San Francisco

by Edward Mack

Apr 7, 2015

Tony Bennett’s Heart of San Francisco in Union Square © Jeff Whyte | Dreamstime

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San Francisco has done just as much to contribute to music and culture as any other city. That’s why it’s important to be well-versed in San Fran tunes before you visit. Check out this list to brush up.


San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) – Scott McKenzie

This is one of the most influential songs of all time, becoming an unofficial anthem of the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s and making San Francisco one of its capital cities. An absolute requirement to listen to before visiting.


Otis Redding at Mission Bay, San Francisco, California © Todd Anderson | Flickr

Otis Redding at Mission Bay © Todd Anderson | Flickr

(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding

While the previous song was used to promote the Monterrey Pop Festival, this song came out of it. Legend has it Redding wrote the song while sitting on a houseboat overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Another San Francisco classic.


I Left My Heart in San Francisco – Tony Bennett

Smooth-crooning Bennett pines for San Francisco in this timeless ballad. Rome, Paris, New York: They’ve got nothing on San Fran.


Piece of my Heart – Big Brother & The Holding Company

The psychedelic rock movement that swept across the nation (and the world) in the 1960s and 70s had its gestation at the famous intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets, where Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane all were based.


Grace Cathedral Hill – The Decemberists

And now for your modern dosage of San Francisco. Listening to this track by The Decemberists is like walking through the city on a foggy day.


Of course you could make a much longer playlist with San Francisco songs, but this is a good place to start. Now don’t forget your flowers.


St. Francis of Assisi Tau Statue in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, California © Jpldesigns | Dreamstime 21729149

St. Francis of Assisi Tau Statue in Grace Cathedral © Jpldesigns | Dreamstime



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