Top 10 Songs About Seattle

Seattle is no stranger to the music scene. For many years, grunge rock had defined Seattle's place in the music world as well as pigeonholed it. The fact is, Seattle has been harboring more than just the Chris Cornells and Kurt Cobains of the world. Much of this list consists of Seattle hip hop, a proud scene with deep roots but limited exposure (with a couple exceptions). Filling out the remainder of the list are groups of various genres expressing a whole gamut of feelings about the Emerald City. Without further ado, here are the top ten songs (as I see it) about Seattle.

"Posse on Broadway" by Sir Mix A Lot
This knight of old school rap must occupy the top of this list. Going platinum more than twenty years before Macklemore, Sir Mix A Lot reps Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood in this song, wherein he mentions Dick's Drive-In, 23rd and Union and 23rd and Jackson, to name a few. Sometimes you have to cruise down Broadway and eat greasy burgers and fries.

"Seattle" by Perry Como
This adoring song about Seattle by crooner Perry Como must have been written during the summer. He speaks of the "bluest skies you've ever seen" and "hills the greenest green" (maybe at Gasworks Park?), as if he's buttering the city up for some bad news. Before the clouds roll in, he couldn't be more right. But, winter is coming, Perry.

"The Ave" by Blue Scholars
Blue Scholars, Sabzi and Geologic, while schooling at the University of Washington, recorded this anthem about the main strip in the University District, called The Ave (despite actually being University Way). Not a lot of love has been heaped on this part of town, so this song stands out. Mentioned in the song: the resident addicts, Second Time Around books (now a Chase bank), vegan sandwiches (from Hillside Quickies, no longer around) and a possible reference to hanging out at Cafe on the Ave.

"Seattle" by Public Image Ltd
Johnny Rotten had little love for Seattle and this song proved it. Reportedly, he had a rough show in Seattle, wherein the band was booed and bottled. Going back to London, he took to paper and wrote about how much he hated the place. Good riddance.

"Home" (feat. Vitamin D, Note, Maneak B and Ish) by Jake One
Changing gears, we turn to Jake One for some real Seattle love. Featuring a host of local rappers (including Shabazz Palaces' Ishmael), the video for "Home" starts out at Dick's Drive-In on Broadway, previously mentioned in "Posse on Broadway" and travels through the streets of Capitol Hill and the Central District. The video also includes cameos by Sir Mix A Lot and Macklemore. Places of interest: Ezell's, Catfish Corner, and Cherry and Martin Luther King Jr.

"Seattle Was a Riot" by Anti-Flag
Known for their political activism, Anti-Flag wrote this song about Seattle following the disaster that was the WTO protests, in solidarity with the protesters. Anti-globalist protesters were countered with riot police brandishing concussion grenades, tear gas and pepper spray. This event was also covered by Blue Scholars in their song, "50k Deep". Not a real happy tune.

"Thrift Shop" by Macklemore
There was no way I couldn't include this song in the list, especially as Value Village, where some of the video was shot, is closing its doors. This ode to spendthrifts rocketed Macklemore to platinum status, before which the only Seattle rapper of such fame was Sir Mix A Lot. Also featured in this video was the Goodwill Outlet, bins brimming with deals.

"The Mud Shark" by The Mothers
The Mud Shark Incident, as it was known, occurred at Seattle's Edgewater Inn in 1969 and reportedly involved Led Zeppelin's road manager, an adventurous groupie, an 8mm camera and a mud shark caught out of the window of the hotel room. Zappa takes the stage in 1971 to recount this famous urban legend, which I will allow you to research for yourself.

"Welcome to Seattle" by Boom Bap Project
Continuing the theme of Seattle hip hop, here's the underground outfit Boom Bap Project welcoming you to Seattle. Despite what Perry Como would have you believe, the Boom Bap Project welcomes you to a place where "the sun don't shine," and pridefully goes on to talk about Jimi Hendrix, the Space Needle, "Posse on Broadway" and the Mariners. Don't come if you can't handle the gray.

"Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" by Nirvana
In contrast to the city pride evident in all Seattle hip hop, Nirvana and their contemporaries took the opposite position. While Kurt Cobain lived and worked in Seattle, it seems the rain and clouds only served to bolster the darkness of his music. In this song, he sings about the Seattle-born actress Frances Farmer, who eventually was involuntarily committed (now a Ralph's) and submitted to insulin shock treatment and possibly a lobotomy (facts are not forthcoming on that). Cobain seems to identify with this tragic figure, and her treatment in the city they both occupied.

Sean Flannigan eats, drinks, lives, writes in Seattle, Washington, and has done so for the last eight years.