Bay Ballads: The 5 Best Songs About San Francisco

If you have a beautiful voice, the most romantic way to tell someone you love them is to write a song about them and sing it to them, if you have a crappy voice, it’s the least romantic way. For years, musicians have been professing their love to The City by The Bay by capturing it’s Golden-Gated beauty through the magic of song. From getting drunk, to leaving your organs, here are the 5 Best Songs About San Francisco.

1. I’m Always Drunk in San Francisco

Carmen McRae

This song is not about day drinking in Dolores Park, well, it’s not just about that. It’s about the punch drunk feeling all true San Franciscans get when the weather is just right, and you see Karl rolling in behind Sutro Tower, and there’s no line at Bi Rite, and you just feel deliriously lucky to call SF your home.

Best Lyric:

“Tell me how does San Francisco, just like a lovers kiss go, straight to my brain.”

2. Dock of the Bay

Otis Redding

Otis Redding started writing the lyrics to this song while he was on a rented houseboat in Sausalito, literally sitting on a dock and wasting time. Everyone who has ever sat on a dock in SF has at least whistled the whistling part of this song while doing so.

Best Lyric:

“I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay, wastin’ time”

3. Lights


Okay, we know this song was originally written about LA, but Steve Perry started it, realized SF is better, and changed it to be about a real city. It’s ours. If you haven’t belted this song out drunk at a karaoke bar (or cringed while someone else did) you haven’t really lived.

Best Lyric:

“Ooh, I want to be there in my city, oh (Oh, oh, oh)”

4. San Francisco Bay Blues

Jesse Fuller

Jesse Fuller was a one man band from Georgia who moved to Oakland in 1929. His one man show included sings, dancing, music playing, and even created his own instrument, The fotdella, that was kind of like a piano drum, and nothing like the cymbal backpack Dick Van Dyke wore in Mary Poppins. San Francisco Bay Blues is about a man who’s wife leaves him in SF, but he doesn’t have the money to follow her, but let’s be real, The Bay is Bae.

Best Lyric:

“She ever comes back to stay, it’s gonna be another brand new day, Walkin’ with my baby by the San Francisco Bay”

5. I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett did not write this song, but he sure as heck owns it. He first sang the song at “Venetian Room” at the Fairmont Hotel in 1961, and has been bringing SFers to tears with it ever since. Locals know that no matter where you go or what you do, a piece of you is left in San Francisco where the golden sun will shine for you. Great, now I’m crying.

Best Lyrics:

“High on a hill, it calls to me, To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars, The morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care”