Something to sing about: songs that mention Berkeley

With shows at the Greek Theatre, Rasputin Music and the occasional mini-concert sometimes found as one passes People’s Park, Berkeley’s music scene isn’t really comparable to LA’s. Still, a variety of musicians have taken to name-dropping Berkeley in their songs — often touching on the city’s stereotypical political leanings. While we think our city has more to offer, it is still nice to be thought of, and we at The Daily Clog have compiled a list of some of the more notable tunes that talk about our town.

“Step” by Vampire Weekend

“While home in New York with champagne and disco / Tapes from LA slash San Francisco / But actually Oakland and not Alameda / Your girl was in Berkeley with her Communist reader”

This song actually includes a lot of allusions to the Bay Area, but the Berkeley one in particular is a reference to the city’s reputation as an uber-liberal haven. To be fair, the communist stereotype is a little outdated and extreme, but we guess that is what Berkeley seems like from an East Coast perspective. If anything, lead singer Ezra Koenig really knows his way around the Bay, despite being born and raised in New York.

“This Could Be Love” by Alkaline Trio

“Step one: Slit my throat / Step two: Play in my blood / Step three: Cover me in dirty sheets and run laughing out of the house / Step four: Stop at Berkeley Marina and rinse your crimson hands.”

The chorus is way too happy sounding for the incredibly creepy and disturbing subject matter. But still, at least our city and small marina made the cut on a song that also references the high-profile Lake Michigan. If you have to go to some body of water to wash your hands, it might as well be the best one in California.

“White Kids Aren’t Hyphy” by MC Lars

“They hippies out in Berkeley, tell me I should stop / Ghost-riding my Volvo wearing Birkenstocks.”

A satirical look at Bay Area culture, “White Kids Aren’t Hyphy” is filled with lyrical references that only northern California kids, such as Berkeley students, can understand. MC Lars drops lines about “Live 105” and “Slim’s” as well as a Stanford diss for good measure: “Shout outs to … Stanford University, for charging too much for a liberal arts education.” Still, the whole concept of the song — that kids such as MC Lars do not fit into the hyperactive culture of the Bay — is rather silly. Maybe MC Lars should listen to us “hippies” out in Berkeley and put whatever this attempt at a hip-hop career is to rest.

“Berkeley Girl” by Harper Simon

The entire song, really.

In this beautiful ode to a girl living in Hollywood who deep down is “really just a Berkeley girl,” Harper Simon raves about a former lover who is “juniper and roses.” She loves rock ‘n’ roll, likes a Tulsi garden and has the smile of Joan Fontaine. This sounds like the wonderful girls here at Berkeley to us! Simon leaves his listeners with a final word of advice that we agree is very important: “Be thankful that you’re with a Berkeley girl / Who’s beautiful beneath the moon and the sun.”

Image sources: Phineas_Gage under Creative Commons