Boston is a magnificent city, with an incredible musical history and renowned music colleges. It's no wonder that the city has many beautiful songs written in its honor. The listicle below explores the best songs about Boston, from classic rock ballads to hip-hop and other modern songs.
1. “Please Come to Boston” by Dave Loggins
Song year: 1974
“Please Come to Boston” was released as the first single in Dave Loggins' album Apprentice. In each verse, the narrator pleads with a woman to join him in Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles.
To each of the towns mentioned, the woman responds that there is no gold or people like her. Instead, she prefers a man from Tennessee and desires that the man goes home to her. “Please Come to Boston” has been covered severally by singers like Joan Baez and David Allan Coe.
2. “Boston Rose” by the Wolfe Tones
Song year: 1989
If there is a beautiful way of expressing the joy of love and pain of separation, “Boston Rose” has done it in a melancholic yet hopeful expression. The song narrates the memories a man has about a past autumn love.
The man bids goodbye to his Boston beauty and agrees that separation is part of life. Instead of feeling lost, the man promises to keep their love in his memories. Those memories reflect happier times when they traveled, had fun, and laughed together.
3. “Dirty Water” by the Standells
Song year: 1966
Initially, “Dirty Water” was an irony-based song meant to put down Boston. The producer wrote the song after he was mugged during a visit to Boston.
However, things turned for the better as the lyrics embraced even the not-so-good elements of Boston. The muggers, thieves, and stranglers aren't the best picture of Boston, but the song presents a call to love the city as it is.
4. “Boston” by Patty Griffin
Song year: 2013
Patty Griffin's raucous “Boston” captures the energetic vibe associated with the city, with people living lives to their fullest. Besides the energy, the lyrics depict hope in desperate situations. Hope is expressed in the dead waking up to look to the sky.
The song's lyrics speak of a confident, brave, gorgeous, and hopeful city. The narrator also remarks that certain aspects of the city can't be changed. No matter how much one tries to fly, waving goodbye is the farthest one can go.
5. “M.T.A.” by The Kingston Trio
Song year: 1959
Also known as “The M.T.A. Song,” M.T.A. is a tale of a man named Charlie who is trapped in the Boston subway system because he lacks the money for the new exit fares. The song aimed to fight against a burdensome tax that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (M.T.A.) wanted to levy on the citizens.
The song describes how Charlie's wife could hand her husband a sandwich as the train rumbles toward him. Unfortunately, Charlie's fate is unknown, and he may only return if the citizens fight for their rights. The song calls Bostonians to fight bravely whenever their rights are on the line.
6. “An Open Letter to Boston” by Mark Lind and The Unloved
Song year: 2008
“An Open Letter to Boston” is a heartfelt dedication by someone who lived and experienced the goodness of Boston. The city has been so good to the singer, and it feels like a home where he will always have a place.
This love letter to Boston touches on some of the city's most iconic spots, like Kenmore Square and River Charles. The narrator nostalgically reflects on his happy memories in Boston, reminding himself there is nowhere else like it in the country.
7. “I'm Shipping up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys
Song year: 2004
The original version of “I'm Shipping up to Boston” was released in 2004 and re-recorded in 2005 by the Dropkick Murphys band. The lyrics, by Woody Guthrie, describe a sailor who lost a wooden leg while climbing the topsails.
“I'm Shipping up to Boston” has become a popular sports song at events like Boston Red Sox games. Despite the hardships of the sailor peg, he aims to ship to Boston to find his lost wooden leg. The song inspires courage, patience, and perseverance through life's challenges.
8. “Boston” by Kenny Chesney
Song year: 2005
“Boston” is a country song in the “Be as You Are” album. The girl in the song is from New England but is strongly connected to Boston. She adores the reggae rhythms and rasta from Boston and claims to be from Boston as she flirts with the boys.
Seemingly, the girl has found a place so warm and real she wants to be different from her old self. She no longer wants to be the girl she was in New England. So calm and peaceful she is in Boston that she tells her family her education and occupation back home can wait.
9. “As We Walk to Fenway Park in Boston Town” by Jonathan Richman
Song year: 2005
From the Album Fever Pitch, “As We Walk to Fenway Park,” depicts a journey of companions to Fenway Park. The trip occurs just as Spring starts, full of excitement and anticipation to reach the baseball park.
The lyrics vividly describe how the evening looks like in Boston. Reeds, cattails, and a baseball park add to the excitement of the walk toward the park. It's no wonder the song is often played on game days at Fenway Park.
10. “Back to Boston” by The Rosebuds
Song year: 2003
“Back to Boston” is the perfect song for anyone longing to return home. It centers on a protagonist and his lover returning to Boston.
The lyrics are an emotional resonance for someone who has not been home for a long time. Also, the roaring chorus and vivid road description send a message of excitement and anticipation to return to Boston finally.
11. “Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)” by Vampire Weekend
Song year: 2008
“Boston” or “Ladies of Cambridge” is a unique piece with musical influences covering jazz, indie rock, and folk, written by Ezra Koenig.
Written by Ezra Koenig, Boston is a romantic place that the singer has been dreaming about all their life. The singer compares the city to a lover they would never want to see leave. The lyrics also serve as a tribute to several places in Cambridge, including Charles River and Chinatown.
12. “Boston Belongs To Me” by Death Before Dishonor
Song year: 2007
“Boston Belongs to Me” is a cover song of “England Belongs to Me.” The lyrics are similar, with only the word ‘England' changing to ‘Boston' in the new version.
The song celebrates Boston's culture and heritage, letting the residents know the city is theirs. In that case, no one can take the city's memories from its people. Despite previously being told that their country was going down, the singers now urge Bostonians to stay and fight for their city.
13. “A Boston Peace” by Say Anything
Song year: 2013
“A Boston Peace” is a rollercoaster of emotions portraying sadness, nostalgia, and hope. The writer wonders how fast someone could leave their life and leave them feeling so downcast and empty. So quickly did the person leave their life that the singer asks if she was a ‘flying bird' in another life.
Amidst the sadness and desperation, the singer hopes to regain the person who was once their source of peace. The singer hopes to get a limb to hold on to to ensure he doesn't sink into nothingness. Moreover, the singer compares the person who flew away from them so fast to a ‘Boston peace,' a feeling once experienced with the flying bird.
14. “Boston Rag” by Steely Dan
Song year: 1973
This song emphasizes the essence of using essential lessons from past experiences and using them to brighten the future. In the lyrics, Lonnie was once a drug kingpin but couldn't control ‘Lady Bayside,' a term that likely refers to a lady from Bayside, N.Y.C. The narrator is caught between Lady Bayside' and Lonnie, but the ending is disastrous because Lonnie overdoses.
‘Boston Rag' is used metaphorically to mean something old and meaningful. The lyrics of the song suggest finding comfort in purposeful, old memories.
15. “Midnight Rambler” by The Rolling Stones
Song year: 1969
This song by The Rolling Stone was partly inspired by one of the city's darkest moments – the infamous Boston killer, the “Boston Strangler.” The murderer was claimed to be Albert Desalvo, who confessed to terrorizing Boston in the 1960s. He would jump garden walls, break into houses, and stab or shoot his victims.
Despite its dark undertones, “Midnight Rambler” has remained a powerful concert favorite over the years.
16. “I Want My City Back” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Song year: 2002
The closure of The Rat, a Boston Punk venue where the Mighty Mighty Bosstones for their start inspired the song “I Want My City Back. ” The song's main character had been away for a short while, only to find the Rat closed. The closure changed how Boston felt; to the narrator, it no longer felt as sacred as it once was.
The lyrics lament the closure of the Rat and cry out the desire to have the city they knew back. The absence of the Boston Punk venue creates an emptiness that can only be refilled upon the restoration of the Rat.
17. “Boston” by Augustana
Song Year: 2005
“Boston” by Augustana depicts a broken relationship between a man and a woman. The men's side of the story is explained in the verses, while the woman's response comes in the hook and bridge.
The woman believes the man will never understand her, so she wants to go to Boston. She believes she'll start afresh in Boston and find another lover there.
Top Songs About Boston, Final Thoughts
As depicted above, Boston is a spectacular city with a rich history and delightful places. The town boasts unique musical elements that have been celebrated over the years. Music sung in honor of Boston also creates a powerful connection among Bostonians.
Each song depicts different city elements, bringing about nostalgia, pride, romantic memories, and hope. Whether you are a Bostonian, a tourist, or an explorer, you can learn much about Boston from these top songs.