Musicians are forever reminding us in their lyrics about how bloody perfect New York is, or asking for directions to San Jose, or misplacing a vital organ in San Francisco. Why aren’t there more songs written about good old Glasgow? Surely, there are plenty of optimistic, life-affirming messages to share about Scotland’s music capital – a captivating, bustling city that mixes swagger, self-deprecation and a sense of humour.
Yet, what’s its claim to fame in song? “I was sick and tired of everything when I called you last night from Glasgow.” Yeah, thanks for that, Abba, I hope a wee radge let down the tyres of your tour bus.
Abba – Super Trouper
Then again, our homegrown artists aren’t exactly beaming with positivity either. “Love is rain in Glasgow,” wails Malcolm Middleton in Love Comes In Waves. Even those chirpy Endor boys manage to finish St Michael’s Bells with the line “When it’s raining in Glasgow”… four times! Julia And The Doogans’ ode to the city, called Glasgow, is undeniably beautiful but even that song uses football hooliganism to set the scene: “Streets get ready for another fight between the boys in blue and green and white.”
Malcolm Middleton – Love Comes In Waves
Endor – St Michael’s Bells
In the meantime, we’re stuck with a guy from friggin’ Cambuslang sounding like he’s on the verge of an orgasm while extolling the virtues of “Oh Vienna”.
All is not lost, however. Musical recognition for Glasgow CAN be found if you probe a lot deeper and go so far into its seedy underbelly that you’re peering through some random’s window on Google Street View.
While the following locations might not be familiar to an outsider, they are ingrained into the soul of every Glaswegian. And now that there’s a homemade Pop Cop map to detail 16 of our favourite contemporary song references, some bright spark will no doubt turn it into a pub crawl.
“You met her at the 13th Note, she was there to see her brother’s band”
Kid Canaveral – Smash Hits
“Tonight I wander carelessly through the tunnels of the ABC”
Tommy Reilly – Gimme A Call
“She suggested coffee down the road in Ashton Lane”
Tommy Reilly – I Don’t Like Coffee
“Oh won’t you take a ride with me through the Barrowland history” and “Oh nothing beats the feeling of the high Barrowland ceiling”
Amy Macdonald – Barrowland Ballroom
“Stuart says he’s seen about nine foxes there when he’s jumped over the fence on his way to Byres Road”
Belle & Sebastian – A Century Of Elvis
“Down in Central Station waiting on my friend”
Travis – Central Station
“Sipping summer through the air blows over the Green to me”
Emma’s Imagination – This Day
Glasgow School of Art
“Sukie was the kid, she liked to hang out at the Art School. She didn’t enrol, but she wiped the floor with all the arseholes”
Belle & Sebastian – Sukie In The Graveyard
“Too much time on Kersland Street has never ever been a bad thing”
Dot JR – Collar And Tie
“I was flying Superman-style along the M8”
The Beta Band – Dance O’er The Border
“Bobby drank too much and fell in the Clyde”
Belle & Sebastian – Nice Day For A Sulk
“Because you kissed St Rollox adieu, because you robbed a supermarket or two. Well, who gives a damn about the prophets of Tesco?”
Franz Ferdinand – The Fallen
“Then we went to get the train home and had a few in the Station Bar”
“Then on Friday night we went through to The Arches”
Arab Strap – The First Big Weekend
“I was sitting in the car in a garage on Woodlands Road when a big blonde caught my eye”
Aidan Moffat & The Best-Ofs – Big Blonde
So there you have it. I’m sure there are many, many more song references I’ve overlooked so feel free to point them out. I won’t take it personally. One obvious omission was the ingenious line in Belle & Sebastian’s This Is Just A Modern Rock Song: “Emma tried to run away, I followed her across the city. She went out to the Easterhouse because she liked the sound of it.” Alas, Easterhouse is outside the 6.7 square mile radius of the map I used.
Give yourself a pat on the back if you spotted that David Berkeley is the only non-Scottish artist on here (not really a surprise when you see how healthy he looks in this photo). The New Jersey-born, California-based singer was kind enough to tell The Pop Cop how his blissful song about George Square came to be:
“I’ve never lived in Glasgow, but I love the city and I’ve been a number of times for shows. A friend/fan from there (James Gouck) liked an older song of mine called Times Square and he kept asking me to write one for George Square. Sure enough, as I was sitting in that beautiful spot one spring night, I got the first strains of a guitar line and a melody. Watching this girl crossing the square upset about something, looking to the statues almost for some help, it seemed. That was the start. It’s the first track on my new album Some Kind Of Cure, and it’s one of my favourites.“