27 Best Songs About Philadelphia

“Going Back To Philly” by Jeru The Damaja

Song Year: 2008

A parody of LL Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali,” this song by Jeru the Damaja was written to promote the fourth season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This was a long-running sitcom about the friends running Paddy’s Pub and their usually-disastrous attempts to get involved in various social issues.

Lyrically, though, this song focuses on Jeru the Damaja’s reluctance to go back to Philadelphia, mentioning some of the darker aspects of the city.

Any place in the world has both upsides and downsides, and while most people who visit the town love it, this song is a good reminder that it’s not all sunshine and freedom.

“Nobody But Me” by George Thorogood

Song Year: 1982

George Thorogood name-drops Philadelphia several times in this song with simple, catchy lyrics. However, just reading the lyrics isn’t a good representation of the song because of Thorogood's passion and variation throughout this bouncy song.

More than that, though, this song pushes forth Thorogood’s genuine love for the city. You don’t work a single city into both instrumental and lyrical tracks if you don’t love something about it a lot.

“Sweet Little Sixteen” by Chuck Berry

Song Year: 1958

Chuck Berry name-drops Philadelphia in this pop-rock song about a girl who dreamed of music and stardom. Unlike some other singers, Berry focused much of his music on teenagers and their experiences, leading to rapid fame within the community.

His songs even helped encourage teens of different ethnicities to associate, further helping his career.

The lyrics here emphasize the universal nature of music and how teens' desires around the country are often similar. As one of the top hits of rock’s earlier stars, “Sweet Little Sixteen” is easily worth a listen for any genre fan.

“The Heart of Rock and Roll” by The News & Huey Lewis

Song Year: 1983

Huey Lewis’ 1983 hit tours around the country as it talks about his impression of the current state of rock and roll. Genres come and go, and it’s no surprise that artists who like a particular style want to see it continue.

This song is fundamentally optimistic, though, describing how its fundamental elements are enduringly popular and unlikely to disappear anytime soon. It’s been decades since he wrote this song, and rock’s still going strong, so he was probably on to something.

(For more on why it’s popular, check out our guide to rock music.)

“Midnight in Philadelphia” by Lifehouse

Song Year: 2005

An introspective song, “Midnight in Philadelphia,” focuses on the writer’s experiences and relationships. The lyrics also deal with loss, emotion, and confusion, all wrapped up in the idea of being hidden from the world by the deep night.

Although it’s centered on Philly, the emotions in this song are universal and can play just about anywhere.

“Philadelphia” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1993

Written for a Jonathan Demme movie of the same name (starring a much younger Tom Hanks, no less), Neil Young’s “Philadelphia” is a melancholy, emotional tune to finish off the sad ending of the song.

Young was one of the first musicians that Demme sought for the film, as he wanted a modern, relevant guitarist who could write a fantastic piece about injustice.

Despite the original intentions, Demme ended up switching the song to the end of the film, where he thought it would fit better. He also contributed to some of the edits in the song, including the occasional modifications to specific notes and chords.

“Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen

“Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen

Song Year: 1993

After Jonathan Demme moved Neil Young’s song to the end of the movie, he needed a new opener. To fix his problem, he turned to Bruce Springsteen, who ended up winning both a Grammy and an Oscar for his work on it.

“Streets of Philadelphia” is an impressively complex song, mixing elements of country, pop, R&B, and rock into a single tune. As one of the most-awarded songs on this list, it’s also easily one of the songs about Philadelphia most worth listening to.

“Sailing To Philadelphia” by James Taylor & Mark Knopfler

Song Year: 2000

“Sailing To Philadelphia” is a song with an unusual focus, talking about establishing the Mason-Dixon line that would denote the separation between the northern and southern parts of the United States.

Although it’s primarily Knopfler’s work, he brought James Taylor in to represent the other character in the story.

Philadelphia is the destination in this song, where Jeremiah Dixon and Charlie Mason would eventually arrive to focus on their survey work. However, it also mentions other areas and people relevant to their trip.

“Fall In Philadelphia” by Hall & Oates

Song Year: 1972

“Fall In Philadelphia” is an instrument-focused rock song with lyrics interspersed throughout. It’s a somewhat introspective song, discussing the negative aspects of a current situation and the desire to move out to Philadelphia.

Beyond the obvious point of its lyrics, however, “Fall in Philadelphia” brings in some of the seasonal aspects of the city. Philadelphia is mainly known as a bright and sunny area, but even the most promising regions can have storms.

“I’m In A Philly Mood” by Daryl Hall

Song Year: 1993

Daryl Hall’s 1993 pop song is a groovy love song featuring Philadelphia as a mood more than a city. That’s true from almost any point of view because cities tend to have personalities distinct from those who live in them, affected by their layouts, weather, and job opportunities.

With that said, associating a city with love is always a compliment, even if you aren’t entirely sure what it means when you’re listening to the song. If you think about it a little, it’s easy to remember that Philadelphia is a city of freedom, so giving and receiving love freely is undoubtedly a mood.

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