The rivers, the trees, the weather, and proximity to the Bay area and Tahoe, there are lots of great reasons to sing about Sacramento. From local jug-jazz to Scottish pop groups, musicians have been inspired to write musical homages to our great city.
Be Brave Bold Robot, "Sacramento"
Album: Press E to Continue
Key lyric: "God bless Sacramento, and the birds in her trees... As varied our landscape so be our people."
This calm, folk-tune has a reverent respect for our city, with lines about our highways, museums, diversity, our place in the economy and bike trails. A charming violin weaves between the lyrics, providing a somber feel. There's not a hint of irony or caddy complaints, all too common when people talk about Sacramento. It's all celebratory. Written from a place of true love.
The FreeBadge Serenaders, "Sacramento, USA"
Key lyric: "It's so close to the coast you can almost smell the sea, in fact you're always just two hours from where you'd rather be."
This song is far more tongue and cheek, touting our proximity to SF and Tahoe as some of our best features. I actually first heard this song years ago when they were on Insight, it struck me as so funny because it's true.
Preoccupied Pipers, "Sacramento Song"
Key lyric: "You'll like Sacto if you dig the mall scene. But how about Howe-about-Arden, what does that mean?"
When I came across this song on YouTube it wasn't clear who the artist was or where this song came from. So I did some digging. Turns out this was recorded by a band known as The Preoccupied Pipers and written by Joe Hayes back in the mid-80s.
"We were a bunch of bratty high school kids from Davis," explained Ned Sykes, Hayes bandmate and the Youtube user who uploaded the video. "There used to be a cross-causeway rivalry."
Sykes uploaded the video last June without asking Hayes, who had renounced the song and will not play it again live.
Hayes wrote this about "Sacramento Song,"
"I renounce that classist, self-satisfied screed as the work of an ignorant, callow youth whose delicate, pampered sensibilities were offended during one summer afternoon's drive through the outskirts of our state capital. I've since learned that the frontiers of any sizeable city are festooned with unsightly clots of chain service franchises and near-identical eight-lane highways. (Yes, even celebrated jewels like Madison, WI.)
Sacramento is a fine burg that I have the good fortune to visit frequently and I harbor nothing but goodwill towards its denizens and municipal leaders.
(The song's chord progression and melody are, admittedly, pretty nifty. Perhaps someday they can be repurposed for good instead of evil. Little help?)
Because Hayes refuses to play the song live, Sykes thought it best to put the song up on YouTube so it wouldn't be forgotten. As a result of this article, Sykes told Hayes about the video. Hayes said he was ok having it online and takes full responsibility for writing the song.
(Warning video contains explicit language)
Middle Of The Road, "Sacramento"
Key lyric: "There's something about the weather that everybody loves, they call it the Indian spring of Sacramento..."
Scottish pop-group Middle Of The Road's single "Sacramento" made it to number one on German, Swiss and Dutch charts in 1972. The video features the band taking a peaceful gondola ride through the center of the city... wait a minute...
Cake, "Arco Arena"
Key lyric: "Welcome to the Kings' palace, Arco Arena."
For anyone who's lived in Sacramento for any length of time knows the Arena in Natomas as Arco Arena (in 2011 it became Powerbalance Pavilion and then Sleeptrain Arena in 2012). An instrumental version of this song appeared on Cake's 2001 release "Comfort Eagle," but here's a rare version with the lyrics.
Deep Dish, "Sacramento"
Key lyric: "Sacramento's breathing and I can't help believing you don't understand, don't understand."
This DC-based Iranian-American DJ duo's song titled Sacramento reached number nine on Finnish charts in 2005.
Timothy B. Schmit, "White Boy from Sacramento"
The bass player for the Eagles wrote a song about growing up in Sacramento - Here's a poorly recorded video of a live performance.
If I had to draw a conclusion from this list of songs I'd say only people who've lived in Sacramento can really tap into the complexities and nuances that make us love and/or hate this town. On the other hand, not being from here seems to give you an edge when charting in Europe.