Songs About People & Places


Day three of The Guardian’s 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear concerns tracks dealing with people and places. I hadn’t heard three dozen of them, but I’ve found over twenty of them since. I’ve included five of those that I particularly enjoyed.

As this post concerns songs about people and places, I suppose it’s appropriate that I begin with Kentucky by The Louvin Brothers. I lived in North Kentucky for a year, but it was nearer to Southern Ohio, so I didn’t get the full effect. I was familiar with country music before going over and I heard some there, but it was only after returning to Ireland that I discovered Charlie and Ira Louvin. I particularly like their Nashville Girl, which might turn up in a post about murder ballads

Kentucky – The Louvin Brothers

Anne Briggs was an English folk singer and Blackwater Side is the opening track of her eponymous album from 1971. The person who taught her the song had learned it from a 1952 BBC recording by an Irish traveller, Mary Doran. Briggs never achieved commercial success, but she influenced many English and Irish folk singers

Blackwater Side – Anne Briggs

Manu Chao is a French-born singer and musician who sings in a number of languages. Bongo Bong was a single from his album Clandestino and has been covered by none other than Robbie Williams. The song has its origins in a 1939 song called King of the Bongo Bong by the trumpeter, Roy Eldridge

Bongo Bong – Manu Chao

Despite favourable reviews, I hadn’t gotten into The Good, The Bad and The Queen, an album that features Damon Albarn, who wrote the songs, and ex-Clash man, Paul Simonon. The album is a themed collection of songs about modern London and Green Fields started life as a song that Albarn wrote for Marianne Faithfull, who recorded it as Last Song on her Before the Poison album. It was released as the third single from the album in 2007

Green Fields – The Good, The Bad & The Queen

Ramblin’ Man appears on Lemon Jelly’s Mercury Music Prize-nominated album, Lost Horizons (2002). It is an unusual piece as it features a conversation between Michael Deakin (band member Fred’s father) and the actor, John Standing, who plays “John”, the Ramblin’ Man. As the music rambles on, ‘John’ muses on his nomadic and lists the names of 67 places that he has, apparently, visited. I’ve only been to five of them!

Ramblin’ Man – Lemon Jelly

1000 songs everyone must hear

People and places: part three of 1000 songs everyone must hear

The 11 songs that I haven’t heard from the list of 145