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Top 20 Songs I Like Mostly Because They Mention Places I’ve Been

There are plenty of things I enjoy in life, but nothing gives me quite the thrill of feeling smart because I caught a reference. And of course, there’s the added satisfaction of knowing how much better I must be than the uncultured masses that clearly missed it. What a feeling. And I’ll tell you a close second: getting to tell people, “I’ve been there!” Sometimes it’s a scene in a movie, and you get to play GeoGuessr at home in front of your friends. Or better yet, when a song you’re listening to mentions a place you’ve been, and suddenly you get to talk about it and control the conversation for the entire car ride. Nothing will make me like a song faster. Unless it’s a Billy Joel song. (Listen to the playlist)

The Menzingers “Anna”

I used to live in Philadelphia, and I agree, Anna, you should come back! I mean, I don’t live there anymore, but maybe you should! There’s plenty of great stuff for you to return to. Did you know one of the guys from “Always Sunny” really has a bar there? And it’s slightly nicer than in the show. Also, “Law Abiding Citizen” was shot there. Oh, and there’s that beer garden in Fishtown. I saw Marc Summers do a live episode of “Double Dare” there, where he poured slime on drunk adults instead of kids. This excellent song is right, no excuse not to go back.

The Front Bottoms “Rhode Island”

This is probably the best song on the list because not only have I been to Rhode Island, but I’ve been to Florida too! And it’s absolutely true, Florida is a long way from Rhode Island. It took me 21 hours. It should have been 20, but my EZPass didn’t work in Florida at the time. They had some weird knockoff brand, so I had to pay cash while everyone else was breezing by. So take it from me, this song is 100% accurate about the distance part at least. That makes for a great song in my book.

Relient K “Savannah”

Actually, I don’t really like Relient K. Just the idea of Christian pop punk makes me cringe a little bit when I hear it. But I did live in Savannah once! And this song gives me an excuse to talk about that! So go ahead, ask me about it so I can take over the conversation and tell a semi-relevant story. Like one time a friend barfed on the corner of Abercorn and Oglethorpe at 10 a.m. because it was the St. Paddy’s Day parade, and he thought pregaming at 7 a.m. was a good idea. I know, pretty cool.

The Get Up Kids “Mass Pike”

Ah, phew, back to a good band! I grew up in Massachusetts, so I’ve driven on the Mass Pike plenty and therefore I like this song. But here’s the thing. Even if the Get Up Kids are a great band, they really need to come clean to Massachusetts natives. Between this and their single “A Newfound Interest in Massachusetts,” you might think they’re from Mass. Well, guess what, not even close! They’re from Kansas City! Know what’s even worse? Kansas City isn’t even in Kansas. I guess if I were from Missouri, I’d try to trick people into thinking I was from a great state like Massachusetts, so I kind of understand.

Orchid “Amherst Pandemonium, Pt. 2”

Orchid don’t have to trick people into thinking they’re from Massachusetts. And yes, I have been to Amherst. And I mean the real Amherst. Don’t tell me you’ve been to the Target in Hadley and act like you know the real Amherst. I’m talking about references only the locals would get, like that Mexican restaurant Bueno Y Sano, if that’s still around. Or giving directions based on where Bartucci’s used to be. You don’t know where that is? You start at Bueno Y Sano (which is good, I don’t care what J Mascis says), walk past Emily Dickinson’s grave, keep going, and you’ll find it. Anyway, the song doesn’t actually mention Amherst but it’s in the title and that’s close enough for me to get to talk about it. New Rule: The town being in the title counts.

Donovan Woods “Portland, Maine”

I’ve heard Tim McGraw doesn’t know where Portland, ME is either, but that guy’s been touring since the ’90s, so I don’t really believe him. I’m gonna take the word of the guy who wrote this song instead. And I like it, because I DO know where that is. And that makes me feel smart. And if you ask for a recommendation, I can tell you about the few places I’ve been to that were within walking distance of my hotel. So you should absolutely go to that one brewery that was next to the other brewery. And buy a very expensive bag made out of an old sail. And get a lobster at that place near the boats. Sorry Donovan if you don’t feel as smart as me, I’m just very cultured and well-traveled. And did I mention smart?

American Nightmare “Hearts”

The Eastern Prom! That was one of the places I could walk to from my hotel. It also had a brewery nearby. So definitely go to the brewery over there too. Donovan should call these guys. I bet they could help him find his long-lost love and maybe recommend some more breweries. I wonder if they even have their own IPA yet?

The Promise Ring “Nothing Feels Good”

Now this song makes me feel really smart. I do know East Texas from Louisiana because I flew to New Orleans once for a bachelor party and didn’t even realize it was Mardi Gras. Who knew? I’ve driven through Atlanta, so I know where that is too! I don’t know a ton about Alabama, but I could spot it on a map at least. I will admit I don’t know God or Billy Ocean personally, but I did make it all the way through college. So I am checking a lot of boxes here. Incredible song!

The Chariot “Forgive Me Nashville”

I’ve been to Nashville too! And this is probably the most iconic song written about that sleepy little town. So again, if you want to know things that were within walking distance of my hotel room, I can tell you about a pretty good chicken sandwich that was only a block away. Also, the NFL draft was there one time. They only seem semi-aware that they have their own football team. And there you go, that’s most of what I know. I’d be very happy to tell you or Josh Scogin all about it.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor “Providence”

I mentioned Rhode Island but not Providence specifically, so I feel it’s only fair to take a second pass here. This is a great song to play in the background, and it seems vaguely religious, which makes sense because Providence was actually founded as a refuge from religious persecution. And later, to avoid ridicule for using celery salt as a condiment. Everyone will tell you it’s a carcinogen, but there’s no way to make a hot wiener without it! So do get one at New York System when you’re in town. I know, it’s not a New York thing, it’s a Providence thing. We’ll get to New York later. This song is making me hungry.

Coheed and Cambria “Devil in Jersey City”

I don’t like to admit this, but I traveled to New Jersey intentionally once. I took a train from New York to Jersey City to visit a friend. We spent most of the day in a dank bar and drank too many beers. So I can’t say I know any more about Jersey than before I visited. But I could tell you about the inside of that bar. Mostly that the jukebox didn’t work. Also, this Coheed song might be about some Jersey City in space. I’m not sure. I mostly like the part at the beginning where he giggles and says “Shabütie.”

Taking Back Sunday “Miami”

I don’t really like beaches, hot weather, or Florida in general. A lot of bad stuff seems to happen there. But I’ve been to Miami a few times. It’s a great place to go if you like cigars. I don’t, but I’ve seen other people enjoy them. Even if you do like cigars, you probably have to stand next to a man who smells like cigars. And even if you do like cigars, you probably don’t like that, right? It just smells bad, objectively. Can anyone who likes cigars weigh in here? Anyway, this is a good song though. It’s got that guy from Breaking Pangea. Now there’s a good band, from Philly, where I’ve been. Still never been to Long Island, though.

The Movielife “Ship to Shore”

Oh wait, yes I have. I was driving through New Jersey, got totally lost, then finally realized I was actually in Long Island. It was terrifying. I was like, ‘Wait, why is everyone so weird all of a sudden?’ It was a little bit like being in Florida, but there are no palm trees for context. So I got out as fast as I could. They say “Long Island Sound is beautiful” in this song. I definitely wasn’t in that part. Oh wait, that was Staten Island.

Botch “Framce”

I have mot beem to Spaim, Japam, Vietmam, Afghamistam, or Micaragua but I have beem to Framce! Took the traim im from Lomdom. I wish we had more traims in the Umited States. It’d be mice. But yeah, spemt some time in Framce. Absolutely get a croissamt. Maybe some macaroms. I will say, you cam skip the Moma Lisa. It’s the size of a postage stamp and all you cam really see are cell phomes takimg pictures of it. For my momey, a hot weimer is a more importamt cultural experiemce.

I Am The Avalanche “Amsterdam”

After Paris, I headed up to Amsterdam. I did eventually figure out what “coffeeshop” means. I still haven’t figured out where to get a coffee, though. Since I couldn’t figure out the food, I headed to the museum. You know what you’re gonna love? The paintings there are big! No postage stamps. Rembrandt painted some big boys. So you can really get in there and see what’s going on. I wonder if da Vinci ever thought of that.

Sirens And Sailors “Born & Raised (Flower City)”

I went to a wedding in Rochester once. It was a long drive, but nice! You know what’s fun? The Kodak stuff, especially the George Eastman Museum. You’ll probably spend some time out front trying to figure out who that statue is: it’s Philip Seymour Hoffman. Check out the history of photography, sure, but definitely don’t miss the taxidermied elephant head on the wall in the living room part. I like to imagine old George wondering, “Is the gigantic severed elephant head a bit much? … Naw!” I’m surprised this song doesn’t mention that elephant head.

Manchester Orchestra (featuring Front Bottoms) “Allentown”

I saw The Front Bottoms in Allentown. God, what a sad place. As far as I can tell, the only thing they have is a semi-pro hockey team. I guess Billy Joel wrote about it once too, but this is about songs I like. And I understand that it’s weird that The Front Bottoms make it on the list twice. Well, they mention places a lot. You start writing songs about places I’ve been, and maybe you too can make the list.

Sufjan Stevens “Chicago”

I flew to Chicago for a job interview once. I ended up taking a different job, but I had a good time. I ordered a whole deep dish pizza on day one. It was way too much to eat, so I took back leftovers. I forgot to refrigerate them but still ate the leftovers three days later. And I lived! So I’d say Chicago is a city of miracles. Also, when are Sufjan’s other state albums coming out? This article would be a whole lot easier to write. 2025 maybe?

Microwave “Trash Stains”

Hey! I’ve been to Dunkin’ Donuts. Well, not in the dumpsters but I’ve been inside the store. And through the drive-thrus. I guess I don’t know the Dunkin’ he’s talking about, but if I had to guess, it’s probably the one between my house and the post office. That’s the good one. Don’t go to the one that’s closer to Wendy’s. Sorry, I mean the one by the good Wendy’s. That’s the bad Dunkin’. I don’t think there’s a Dunkin’ by the bad Wendy’s.

The Weakerthans “One Great City!”

I had a layover in Winnipeg once. I was on my way to Vancouver, where it seems like everything is just better. I’ve never heard a song with lyrics like “I Hate Vancouver.” But from what I could tell, the airport was nice. They have a thing called a “Tim Hortons,” which seems to be the name of a guy that serves you Dunkin’ Donuts.

Did you want all these songs in one convenient playlist? Good news: