As a native San Franciscan, I grew up listening to songs, like “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” by Tony Bennett, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie, “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, and “Lights” by Journey, to name a few. Radio stations still play “We Built This City” by Starship, despite being voted the “Worst Song of the 1980s” according to a Rolling Stones Magazine poll. Love or hate these songs, they are classics because people love San Francisco!
Just when I thought I’d heard of all the songs that pay homage to San Francisco, I discover the song, “San Francisco” by French singer, Maxime Le Forestier! As a Francophile from San Francisco, I wondered, How have I not heard of this song before? Quel dommage! (What a pity!)
Good thing “Never stop learning” is a motto of mine. I love discovering gems like these!
La maison bleue / The blue house
I learned that in the 1970s, Maxime Le Forestier lived in a blue house (pictured above) located in The City’s Castro neighborhood. It became the inspiration for the song with lyrics, like:
“C’est une maison bleue
Adossée à la colline…
San Francisco s’embrume
San Francisco s’allume
San Francisco, où êtes vous…
Nageant dans le brouillard …”
“It’s a blue house
Leaning against the hill …
San Francisco becomes cloudy
San Francisco lights up
San Francisco, where are you …
Swimming in the fog … ”
In 2011, Maxime Le Forestier returned to San Francisco and the blue house to unveil a plaque offered by the Consulate General of France in San Francisco.
If You’re Going to San Francisco, Be Sure to Watch These Videos Filmed There
All of these old school San Francisco songs got me thinking about more recent music inspired by San Francisco. So I’ve compiled this short list of music videos that were filmed in the city by the bay, including my personal stories about two of them!
- 98 Degrees – “Because of You” (with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Grace Cathedral, Coit Tower, North Beach neighborhood, and Muni buses)
- G-Eazy – “Power” ft. Nef the Pharaoh and P-Lo [Explicit] (The Berkeley and Vallejo natives filmed this video on a yacht, offering views of the Bay Area skyline, bridges, and Port of Oakland container cranes. Other filming locations include the former Naval Base in Alameda and Telegraph Avenue)
- Green Day – “When I Come Around” (with views of the Powell Street BART Station)
- LeAnn Rimes – “One Way Ticket” (with views of the Painted Ladies/Victorian houses, Lombard Street, and the nation’s only mobile national monument: Cable Cars)
- Stromae – “Ave Cesaria” (with views of verdant San Francisco parks)
- Tara Linda – “I’ll Cross Any Bridge For You” (with views of Bay Area bridges, Chinatown, and sea lions of Pier 39)
- Train – “Save Me, San Francisco” (with views of the Transamerica Pyramid, Alcatraz, and Crissy Field)
- The Wallflowers – “The Difference” (with concert footage inside The Fillmore)
True story: I’m in this music video (sort of)
In March 1997, the Wallflowers filmed part of their concert at the historic venue, The Fillmore. Band frontman, Jakob Dylan, announced that the next single would be “The Difference” (from the album, Bringing Down the Horse) and that we’d all be on MTV! Here’s the scoop: it wasn’t done in one take! In fact, they played the song a total of five times! Each time, we were instructed to be enthusiastic: jump, dance, and wave our hands in the air. In other words, we had to rock out as cable camera rigs panned overhead. So as you watch the video, don’t blink or you’ll miss me: the split-second blurry spot wearing an orange sweater. That’s me – I promise!
Speaking of promise, the last song on my list is:
- *NSYNC – “This I Promise You” (with views of Redwood trees, the Embarcadero, and the Bay Bridge)
Another true story: I went to the movies with Justin Timberlake (sort of)
One weekend in September 2000, *NSYNC was in town to film the music video for “This I Promise You” (a beautiful ballad written and produced by Richard Marx). I was in line to buy movie tickets when I noticed a 19-year-old Justin Timberlake two spots ahead of me. More remarkable to me was that, as famous as he was (and still is), JT was low-key: no disguise, no hat, no dark glasses, no bodyguard, no suit & tie. It wasn’t until he turned his sexy back (when the couple in front of me started to talk to him) that I even realized it was him. I didn’t meet him, though. Quel dommage!
>> The link to my YouTube playlist with all of these songs can be found here. <<
Bonus: Check out this 2005 television commercial featuring hundreds of thousands of colorful balls going down a hill in San Francisco! The ad won a Gold Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in June 2006 in Cannes, France.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of San Francisco via music videos! Tell me which one(s) you liked in the comments below!