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Maps

Songs About Your City, Mapped

Music about your metro is a click away.

Spotimap/Javier Arce

Some people create music playlists to suit their mood, or the occasion, or their preferred genre. Others, myself included, organize their songs by city. Most of the songs on my city playlists are either ones I first heard when I lived in that city, ones that now remind me of my life in that city, or ones with lyrics explicitly about that city. My "Chicago" playlist, for example, contains the Sufjan Steven's song with the same name and the Andrew Bird song "Pulaski at Night."

Putting together such a list just got a lot easier with this nifty Spotify-based map, called Spotimap, which lets users find a list of relevant songs by clicking a city. Here's how coder/cartographer Javier Arce introduces his map on GitHub (please note the Air, LCD Soundsystem, and The Clash references):

Have you ever been alone in Kyoto? Is London calling you? Do you love New York but the place is bringing you down? Then this interactive map will be perfect for you! Explore the world while you listen to songs about cities.

To use the map, just click on one of the little green musical notes marking cities around the world. Up comes a playlist of all the songs about that city, based on this Wikipedia list. Clicking on the musical note in New York, for example, pulls up 2,707 songs about the city and its various neighborhoods, shown in alphabetical order:

Here are some of the songs on that list:

And of course...

Unfortunately, not every lyricist's city-muse is on the map. Chicago, I was very disappointed to note, isn't—despite the many, many songs written about it. But Arce writes that he's actively working on importing songs from the Windy City—along with Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Detroit, and others. And to help make the Spotimap more comprehensive, music lovers can suggest city-themed songs they think have been left out.

Meanwhile, check out these songs about D.C.:

About the Author

  • Tanvi Misra
    Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering demographics, inequality, and urban culture. She previously contributed to NPR's Code Switch blog and BBC's online news magazine.