Songs about hometowns have been a part of the musical landscape for forever. Whether you're from a small town, a suburb, or an internationally renowned city, your home state and town defines you and the art you make. From Bruce Springsteen's depressing ode to his New Jersey rust belt town, "Freehold," to Frank Sinatra's glitzy "New York, New York," the list of songs about an artist's place of origin is too overwhelming to keep track of. Putting aside these classics, here's a list of the best songs about hometowns from the 2000s onward:
1. LCD Soundsystem - "New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down"
LCD Soundsystem's ode to New York depicts a city once loved, now slowly becoming something unrecognizable. It's a love letter to the city that frontman James Murphy grew up in. He sings about how those neighborhoods have been replaced with yuppie condos, and takes direct shots at then mayor Michael Bloomberg. It's a true ode to the city, one that recognizes that the place he grew up is now just a vestige of its former self.
2. Bon Iver - "Wisconsin"
Bon Iver's bonus track off of the debut album For Emma, Forever Ago isn't the most flattering song about the state and birthplace of frontman Justin Vernon, but the song paints a vivid picture of the location. Vernon's lyrics describe the bitter cold and unhappiness, but betrays a hometown pride through his statements of love for the state and the way it remains a part of him.
3. Drake - "Know Yourself"
Rappers are known to be proud of their hometowns, but few have been as synonymous with the city of their origin as Drake. The self proclaimed "6 God" has been talking up his hometown since he started making music, most unabashedly on his early Southern Hip Hop influenced song "The City Is Mine." However, his best song that truly embraces the nature of the city is off his recent EP/mixtape If You're Reading This It's Too Late. "Know Yourself," off this project, mixes the trademark rude boy slang from Toronto with a hook that celebrates partying in Toronto.
4. Wilco - "Sky Blue Sky"
Wilco's "Sky Blue Sky" is another hometown song more in the vein of Bruce Springsteen than Frank Sinatra. "Sky Blue Sky" recounts a Memorial Day parade in Belleville, IL, hometown of lead songwriter Jeff Tweedy. Through its description of the parade, Wilco display the disrepair and despair of Tweedy's hometown. In the song, Tweedy expresses his joy in escaping the fate of small town life, and paints the most bleak possible picture of it.
5. Kid Cudi - "Cleveland Is The Reason"
"Cleveland Is The Reason" off of Kid Cudi's breakout mixtape A Kid Named Cudi is his love letter to the city that raised him. He doesn't gloss over the problems with his city, but the song is a proud declaration of his affiliation to the city. It's littered with references to Cleveland culture, including old school cars, and Cleveland music like the soul music group: The O'Jay's. In this record Cudi embraces all of Cleveland, it's past, present and future, faults and all.