Location Inspiration

By Zelie Vandermeiren

Ever went to a place where you were so moved by your surrounding, inspiration is going wild? Sometimes it doesn’t even need to be a real location; just like Erland Cooper, who created an entire soundtrack for a Nature Reserve in London, based on an island he imagined. Other songwriters found inspiration in location, where their creativities were urged. Here discover songs inspired by cities, with Location Inspiration

Vienna, Billy Joel

This song is about a crossroads and feeling lost in life. Inspired by a visit to his father, that he didn’t saw for years, who lived in Vienna, Billy Joel choose the city as a metaphor for the rest of his life, unknown but full of surprises. Because of the geographical position of Vienna that was always a crossroad through history and political conflicts.

London Boy, Taylor Swift

Inspired by London, this song is through the eyes of Swift, an American Girl falling in love with a London Boy. Throughout the song, she talks about places she learned to love, in a city she now calls home. From locations, and also the culture surrounding them, the song is an ode to Taylor’s lover and the place he is from.

Heaven or Las Vegas Cocteau Twins 

This song is about falling in love with someone. Here, Las Vegas is being compared to love, because when you fall in love you can lose everything, just like in Vegas. Heaven, on the other hand, is the place where you have everything you want and the comfort of it. But sometimes in order to win what you seek, you have to bet everything you own.

English man in New York, Sting

Just like the song implies, it’s about the cultural differences between the USA and the UK. The well-mannered, Sting, is feeling lost in the city that never sleeps and people who are always in a hurry. From his accent to cultural choc, his differences are visible to others, making it even more difficult to fit in. Which is why Sting feels like a legal alien, in this place far from home.

Kashmir, Led Zeppelin

Inspired by a drive the band took through the Morocco desert, Kashmir is a long song, just like the road taken to get there. It took years for the band to make a song about this hostile and arid place, which can be felt in the melody.

Amsterdam, Jacques Brel

In this song, Brel paints a melancholic portray of Amsterdam’s port. The Belgian singer took inspiration in this place, which is a meeting point for many people, but also a place of goodbye. That place is a place of cycles where new sailor starts their career, and other lose their life. The song is heavy and sad, just like the Port of Amsterdam’s atmosphere.

Love In Portofino, Dalida

This song is about finding love in the romantic place that is the Italian Rivera. With lyrics in English, French and Italian, the song is multicultural, just like love can be. Describing it as the place where she found love, Dalida also ends up marrying in Portofino; truly making it the Italian city of romance.

Waterloo, Abba

This song is the one that got the band to win Eurovision and took their career to an international level. Located in Belgium, it’s where the famous battle of Waterloo took place. Notoriously known as the battle where the French Emperor Napoleon and his ego had to surrender, losing the battle and the empire. Inspired by the terrible loss of Napoleon, Waterloo is a metaphor that sometimes in terms of love, you have to surrender and let yourself fall in to feel love and loved.

New York, New York, Frank Sinatra

In the city that never sleeps, Sinatra wants to be on the top of every billboard. New York, is often seen as the capital of culture of the United States, and where everything is possible. The song portrays this feeling that in this big city you can be and do whatever you want. The place where each dreams is possible and if you make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. 

London’s Calling, The Clash

This song is a real punk anthem. Portraying London in the late ’70s, where many socials and politicals issues happened, such as the Thatcher government’s politics, nuclear error and the Thames overflowing. With London’s Calling, just like the radios during wars, The Clash were encouraging people to rebel and fight for their rights.

Brooklyn Baby, Lana Del Rey 

Being from Brooklyn, Lana Del Rey wrote this song about how the culture there shape people. Like many of her songs, it’s nostalgic of the ’70s, here more precisely of Lou Reed, Jazz and being hippies. Which all defined and shape the culture at the time in Brooklyn. Lana is a baby from Brooklyn, and the song is her ode of what it means.

If you enjoyed reading City Inspiration, you might also enjoy reading other articles about music like Movie Nurture or Easy Classics.