What is Boston’s best reference in popular music?
Some cities seem to be screaming for singing: just think of âMy Kind of Town (Chicago) by Frank Sinatraâ, âNew York State of Mindâ by Billy Joelâ¦ and even âBeverly Hillsâ by Weezer. But does Boston fall into this category?
We asked Boston.com readers for their thoughts on Greater Boston’s most memorable references to popular music, and they’ve had more than a few suggestions over the decades. But it’s up to you to choose which one is higher. Check out the songs posted below – along with our historic commentary – then take our poll (here or at the bottom of this article).
We’ve limited the entries to one per artist or group (otherwise it should be mostly Dropkick Murphys songs), and we know there are a lot of lesser-known songs on the Hub that have probably been left out – n ‘ feel free to list them under “Other.” Meanwhile, show your Boston-area musical bona fides by voting and we’ll crown a winner next week.
‘Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)’ (1928), written by Cole Porter
“Some Argentines without means do it, people in Boston say that even beans do it, let’s do it, let’s fall in loveâ¦”
Even though Cole Porter would really have us believe that “it” in this case refers to “falling in love” (whatever you say, Mr. Porter), we think it’s safe to say the beans don’t. .
‘MTA’ of the Kingston Trio (1959)
“He can ride the streets of Boston forever, he’s the man who never came back …”
With the MBTA’s Charlie Card named after the hapless hero of this song – forever stuck on the train as his wife hands him his daily sandwich at Scollay Square station – it’s hard to deny the extent of his influence. . Plus, it’s damn eye-catching!
“Dirty Water” by The Standells (1965)
“Because I love this dirty water, oh, Boston, you are my home …”
There are few songs about Boston quite as much as this one, from its shout “on the banks of the Charles River” to its reference to BU students frustrated by their early curfew. Factor in his appearance at the end of every Red Sox home game and he definitely looks like the one to beat.
“Massachusetts” by the Bee Gees (1967)
“The lights have all gone out in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts is one place I’ve seen …”
The Bee Gees had apparently never been to Massachusetts when they recorded this song, and it shows.
“Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor (1970)
“Now December 1st was covered in snow, yes, as was the toll highway from Stockbridge to Bostonâ¦”
There is no denying that James Taylor is a local favorite, although he is arguably more Stockbridge than Boston. Yet the man certainly has a way with evocative lyrics.
“Come to Boston” by Dave Loggins (1974)
“Come to Boston for the spring, I’m staying here with friends and they have plenty of roomâ¦”
Loggins – Kenny’s first cousin, for the record – doesn’t really seem to have a preference between Boston, Denver, or LA in this easy-to-listen favorite, as long as he doesn’t have to get home. For bona fide Boston, you’re probably better off with the version of Joan Baez, who started her career in Cambridge.
“Roadrunner” by The Modern Lovers (1976)
“I’m in love with modern moonlight, 128 when it’s dark outside, I’m in love with Massachusettsâ¦”
An anonymous Boston.com staffer once called this Jonathan Richman print classic “a bunch of losers hanging out around the Stop & Shop parking lot.” He still receives death threats.
Boston Rock & Roll Band (1976)
“Well, we were just another group from Boston, on the road and trying to make ends meetâ¦”
The song also references Hyannis (okay, not the hottest of places, unless you really like the Kennedys), so it’s kind of like a Greater Boston two-iron. Plus extra points for the group name.
“They Came to Boston” from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (1991)
“I hired a car to see the sights but they found the Hub confusing, looked for the Swan Boats in Mattapan, well I find that really funâ¦”
It entered a few years into their esteemed career, but on this track the Bosstones finally crystallized a classic Boston truism in its purest form: Most people who come here are mean and boring.
“My Sister” by Juliana Hatfield Three (1993)
“She would have taken me to my first show for everyone, it was the Violent Femmes and the Del Fuegos, before they released a record, before they became a gold record …”
This song was suggested by several readers although it does not specifically mention Boston; However, Hatfield fans (and / or the Violent Women and the Del Fuegos) know that the show she is referring to actually happened, at Storyville in Kenmore Square in 1983. (Also suggested by a reader: “Move With Me Sister “by the Del Fuegos, with the line” We’re taking this trip into Kenmore from the Fenway side … “)
‘Boston’ by Augustana (2005)
âShe said I think I’ll go to Boston, I think I’ll start a new life. I think I’ll start over where no one knows my nameâ¦ â
Good luck – everyone knows this is the place where everyone knows your name.
“I ship to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys (2005)
“I’m shipping to Boston whoa, I’m shippingâ¦ to find my wooden leg!” “
Certainly the Red Sox standard “Tessie” or, better yet, this year’s “Queen of Suffolk County”, with her Skippy White’s and Red Line endorsements, might be better choices when it comes to references to. Beantown by the Dropkick Murphys. But it is without a doubt their best-known song (thanks at least in part to Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed”), and although it contains almost no lyrics beyond those mentioned above, they do. are certainly delivered with enthusiasm.
Note: This post has been updated to correct the release date of “They Came to Boston”.