No matter where you’re from, how long it’s been since you left, or if you never manage to leave at all, the place where you grew up always holds a unique power over you. Whether you love your hometown, hate it, or are still trying to figure out how you feel about it, this list of songs about hometowns is sure to have something that you can relate to.
Songs About Hometowns
Let’s begin with a Fall Out Boy track.
Lake Effect Kid by Fall Out Boy
The place you come from can either give you something to overcome or a solid foundation to become who you are. In Fall Out Boy’s case, their home city made them who they are in the best possible way.
“Lake Effect Kid” is the title track of a three-song EP that Fall Out Boy has referred to as a “love letter to Chicago.” Though officially released before the Chicago show of Fall Out Boy’s 2018 tour, this song was a fan favorite lost track from 2008. It’s full of joy, energy, and pride in how the place they got their start has shaped their lives and careers.
New York State of Mind by Billy Joel
Fall Out Boy’s passion for Chicago is perhaps rivaled only by Billy Joel’s love of New York. Many artists have written songs about New York, but there’s something special about seeing the city written about by someone who was raised there.
While some people feel drawn to escape their hometowns, in Billy Joel’s case, he’d rather spend his spare time exploring everything that his hometown has to offer. To him, New York isn’t just a place, but (as the title says) a state of mind.
SUBURBIA by Troye Sivan
Though Troye Sivan was raised in Perth, Western Australia, this song is relatable for anyone who grew up in a suburban neighborhood. This bittersweet anthem to his hometown is perfect for anyone who is still figuring out how they feel about the place they grew up in, because in this song, Sivan doesn’t seem all the way certain himself.
It’s a mixture of nostalgia and frustration in the fact that even though he’s grown and changed since he moved away, very little about his hometown seems to have done the same.
Quiet Town by The Killers
As we grow up, we often look back at the places we were from and understand them in a different light. This song by The Killers does just that.
It opens with a soul-chilling announcement of someone being killed by a train. It’s become an accepted part of living in that small town. This casual acceptance of a tragic event becomes representative of how the whole town operates, and of the dark underbelly of a town that looks on the surface like it would be an idyllic place to live. If your relationship with your hometown has shifted as you’ve grown older, this is the perfect song for you.
Viva Las Vengeance by Panic! At The Disco
If you’re from a place with the sort of magnetic pull that Las Vegas has, your relationship with that location is bound to be complex and multi-faceted. This song is the title track from a soon-to-be-released Panic! At The Disco album about what it meant to lead singer Brendon Urie to grow up in Las Vegas.
A take on the famous Elvis Presley song “Viva Las Vegas,” this song explores the impact of growing up in a commercialized land of fame and fortune—and the continued impact of that land on Urie as an adult. “In a city full of promises,” Urie says, “Nothing rings true.”
Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
It’s hard being from a seemingly nondescript small town, but it can be equally hard being from the sort of place that celebrities are expected to come from. Just like Brendon Urie, the Red Hot Chili Peppers also feel intimately shaped and damaged by the place they grew up specifically because of its fame.
In this song, the Red Hot Chili Peppers talk about the impact of growing up with Hollywood dreams and expectations looming large in their psyches, referring to it as “the edge of the world and all of Western civilization.”
This song is relatable even to those of us who didn’t grow up in the shadow of Hollywood—the somber vocals and gentle, repetitive melody evokes a kind of sadness and personal reflection that only comes from a complicated relationship with the past.
Back Home Again In Derry by Christy Moore
This old Irish folk song was written by political activist Bobby Sands while in prison and on a hunger strike to protest the conditions that the prisoners were kept in. Sands was one of the ten people who died during that hunger strike, and the sadness reflecting in this song’s lyrics conveys Sands’s regret at never again being able to return home.
Irish folk singer Christy Moore found a melody for this song and recorded it in 1984 as part of his album Ride On, an album rife with songs about political struggles. The rich history of this song and the extreme conditions in which it was written make it a really compelling narrative of longing for the safety and comfort of home.
Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat
Many songs about home sweet home are written from the vantage point of having been outside of a given hometown for a while. This song is different—it’s about the moment when you first leave said hometown.
The song opens and closes on the same image: a boy standing on a train platform in the wind and the rain, grappling with his decision. He reflects on everything that led to that moment and ultimately follows through with his decision, telling himself “the love that you seek will never be found at home.”
The upbeat pop sound of this song provides an interesting contrast to the lyrics, making this the ultimate hype song for anyone trying to find the courage to leave their own hometown.
City of Gold by Orville Peck
This is a song about passing through your hometown and hoping to run into one specific person. Nostalgia for home and for a lost relationship become intertwined in this song. Johannesburg, lovingly referred to as “Josie” in this song, is the place where Orville Peck grew up, and where he first experienced heartbreak. The lyrics use the idea of time zones as synonymous with being on the same wavelength as a person, implying that by being “back on Southern time,” the singer is emotionally available to the person he lost.
Orville Peck’s soaring and powerful vocals, combined with the vulnerability expressed in the lyrics, make this song relatable to anyone whose hometown also contains a lost relationship.
Eastside by Benny Blanco, Halsey, and Khalid
Most songs about home and family are written by people who have left a hometown and are now looking back. This song, however, is about two people from the same place who fall in love and never leave. It reflects on their relationship and how it’s changed through the years, talking about specific places where they used to meet.
As the song ends, the couple realizes that they don’t have to leave each other to leave their hometown, so they decide to “start a new life in a different place” with the memories of the Eastside still intact.
Hometown by Brandon Stansell
Country songs about hometowns aren’t exactly hard to come by, but I like this one because it paints a vivid picture of Stansell’s hometown, which on the surface seemingly feels exactly like every small town someone might leave behind.
But this isn’t a song from someone that’s still grappling with the impact their hometown had on them. It’s a song from someone who has figured out exactly how he feels: he’s learned to let go of the past and move forward, knowing that the town he left behind has made him into the person he is today. Isn’t this the kind of closure we all seek with the place we were raised in?
Songs About Returning Home
Let’s start this off with one of Adele’s early songs.
Hometown Glory by Adele
What I really like about “Hometown Glory” is how vivid it is. On this track, Adele wanders the streets, revisiting certain locations she enjoyed during her stay at her hometown. Now that she’s returned, she’s soaking in every single moment, to the point where strangers walk up and ask her “is there anything I can do for you, dear?”
Adele has to inform this good samaritan that she’s not lost—she’s just wandering. She’s caught up in the joy that her hometown is brining her upon her return home. She’s remembering all of the people she has met, and how they have impacted her life. In fact, Adele is so reverent of her hometown, she takes pleasure in remembering that the air is thick and that people, in times of crisis, can put aside their petty differences and protest a government or system that’s deemed to be oppressive and unjust.
To Adele, this is all part of the charm of her hometown. On “Hometown Glory,” Adele sings of the appreciating everything your home town has to offer—warts and all.
Home by Todrick Hall
The ending track of his autobiographical album Straight Outta Oz, this song is about returning home after exploring the world and figuring out who he is. On this album, Todrick uses the story of The Wizard of Oz to tell his personal narrative of leaving his small town in Texas to pursue a music career.
Unlike “Walking to New Orleans” (above), returning home is an empowering feeling for Todrick. Coming back to your hometown, whether or a long or short stay, doesn’t have to be a sign of failure. This song shows that sometimes, coming back to your hometown is just as important to figuring out who you are as leaving it was in the first place.
’Tis the Damn Season by Taylor Swift
Returning to your hometown after you’ve already made the decision to live your life outside of it can bring up all sorts of questions—especially if there was something (or someone) you left behind.
In this Taylor Swift song, a woman returns to her family’s small-town home and reunites with the old flame she left behind in pursuing her career. She ultimately realizes that in choosing to leave the town, she also rejected a whole life she could have had with him. Looking at the lover, she concludes that despite her success, “the road not taken looks real good now.”
Walking to New Orleans by Fats Domino
Depending on your relationship with the people in it, your hometown can be a place of safety and refuge even after you’ve left. In this song, Fats Domino sings about a relationship gone awry, as he retreats to his hometown (and his family) to recover.
Anyone who has ever had to return to their family and hometown during a period of intense stress will be able to relate to this song’s soulful vocals. The slow, repetitive beat mimics the feeling of embarking on a long journey home, reflecting every step of the way on what brought them back to the place they initially left behind.
Castle On The Hill by Ed Sheeran
This song is full of pure nostalgia for the place where Ed Sheeran grew up and the people he grew up alongside. It opens with the memory of breaking his leg, and then walks us through a multitude of foundational childhood experiences.
As he reflects on his childhood, the landscape of his hometown becomes tangled with the events that happened there. Toward the middle of the song, Sheeran turns his focus to the people he grew up with and what’s become of them.
“These people raised me,” he concludes, “And I can’t wait to go home.”
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