The Top 10 Songs About St. Louis
Like puppy love, cheating spouses, and the desire to shake one's posterior on the dance floor, the city of St. Louis keeps popping up in song. Blues, country, pop, rock, folk – the genres have all taken turns serenading "good 'ol St. Lou." What are the most noteworthy songs about the Midwest's most musical city? If they ever made a soundtrack to the city, it would sound a little something like this ...
"Meet Me in St. Louis" – Judy Garland
Ask 10 St. Louisans to name a song about their city, and at least half will say "Meet Me in St. Louis." Even if you've never heard it, you've heard of it. Written in 1904 in anticipation of the World's Fair, it has been performed ad nauseam, but perhaps most memorably by Judy Garland in 1944's musical of the same name:
"Country Grammar" - Nelly
The only natural way to follow-up Judy Garland, Nelly (St. Louis's favorite hip-hop homeboy) raps in "Country Grammar" about the things he likes best in "the Lou" -- feeding the baby goats at Grant's Farm, getting his picture taken with Fredbird, riding the Ninja at Six Flags. Or something like that. Sensitive eyes and ears beware.
"New Madrid" - Uncle Tupelo
In 1990, climatologist Iben Browning predicted a massive earthquake would shake St. Louis to its core. The New Madrid fault line didn't even quiver, but the event did seem to inspire Belleville,, IL native Jeff Tweedy to pen this abstract alt. country gem about love, death, and Mr. Browning's earthquake that wasn't.
"Back in the USA" - Chuck Berry
St. Louis's golden native son Chuck Berry pays homage to his stomping grounds in this 1959 classic. The song would become a staple of Berry's legendary performances at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room throughout the 1990's and 2000's.
"The St. Louis Blues" - W.C. Handy
The crown jewel of songs about St. Louis, W.C. Handy's 1914 masterpiece is a musical microcosm of the city - a little bluesy, a little joyful, a little bright, a little gray. If the city wore earbuds, this tune would be on perpetual repeat mode.
"Hold On" - Tom Waits
It's not exactly rife with St. Louis imagery, but when the mighty Tom Waits name-drops your city in song - "God bless your crooked little heart / St. Louis got the best of me" -- you count it.
"St. Louis Cyclone Blues" - Lonnie Johnson
Blues legend Lonnie Johnson was sitting in the kitchen of his shack in 1927 when a devastating tornado touched down, wiping out 6 square miles of St. Louis and killing 78. Johnson survived, and with one hell of a tale to tell.
"Diamond Ring" -- The New Basement Tapes
Written by Bob Dylan in 1967, this folksy singalong stayed buried until 2014, when Taylor Goldsmith, Elvis Costello, and company dug it up for The New Basement Tapes. The homesick narrator just wants to return to St. Louis, put a ring on his lost love's finger, settle his debts, and then ... move to Wichita? Clearly, Big Bob wasn't entirely in his right mind circa 1967.
"St. Louis Breakdown" - Oliver Sain
He never received the worldwide acclaim that Berry did, but in St. Louis, he was just as beloved, and equally as influential. In "St Louis Breakdown," Oliver Sain just does his usual thing, which is make St. Louis a hipper, more happening place to be.
"Going to the Liquor Store" - The Urge
In St. Louis, the Urge isn't just a band, it's a religion. "Going to the Liquor Store" finds frontman Steve Ewing and his rock-rap-alternative-reggae-funk-punk bandmates doing what they do best - belting out a catchy, booze-soaked singalong about St. Louis, for St. Louis:
Marcus Whelchel lives, works, and writes in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife, daughter, and voices. At the moment, he has the urge to go to the liquor store.