Backpacking Lyricist: Places I Visited That Are in Song Titles

“One day we will return here, when the Belfast child sings again” – Jim Kerr.


Backpacking Lyricist: Places I Visited That Are in Song Titles

As a poet, blogger, lyricist, writer, wordsmith and lover of the paper and pen and most things written, on my journeys it never escaped me all those times I was in a city or town, or just place made famous in a song. There was no list to tick off or anything, but looking back I definitely linked song listens to where I was, at times. And I remember certain songs I heard in certain places – memories that will never escape me. Here are just a few of the places I visited which are in song titles. Please note that these are not places mentioned in the songs or lyrics, but the name of the place must appear in the title of the songs. Places mentioned alone could be a full new blog post, just titles for now!

1.Belfast Child – Simple Minds

I have been to Belfast over 200 times now, hardly a surprise given that I grew up in nearby Bangor and many friends and family live here. As well as the Simple Minds classic, the city also features in songs by Boney M (Belfast), Stiff Little Fingers (No Sleep Till Belfast) and Ash (Seventh Circle).

Glentoran FC in Belfast, Northern Ireland

2.The Road to Mandalay – Robbie Williams

I deliberately put this Robbie Williams song onto my iPod when I was actually on the road to Mandalay in 2013. I took a bus from the Myanmarese city of Yangon to Mandalay.

pick up truck mandalay

Here I am actually on the road to Mandalay, Myanmar.

3.Cardiff Afterlife – Manic Street Preachers

I have been to Cardiff twice so far, weirdly both times for a football match (Wales v. Northern Ireland 2004 and Cardiff City v AFC Bournemouth 2019). It features in a Manic Street Preachers title.

Cardiff Castle, Wales

4.Warszawa – David Bowie

I live in Warszawa now having first visited in 2005. There is a nice David Bowie mural at Marymont. Bowie was here during communism and wrote his song about the city.


5.Rio – Duran Duran

This classic tune was also on my mind when I finally backpacked through the Brazilian city of Rio – Rio De Janeiro in 2014 ahead of the World Cup Final. I visited the city with my parents.

Copacabana Beach in Rio with Mum and Dad

Copacabana Beach in Rio with Mum and Dad

6.London Calling – The Clash

Not only have I visited London but I once lived there, and I also visited the former independent republic (cue Micronation) of Frestonia, where the Clash once recorded an album of theirs.

Another crazy day out in London

7.Stranger in Moscow – Wacko Jacko

Mike Jackson released Stranger in Moscow in the 1990s and that was exactly how I felt when I backpacked the city alone in 2007. So much so that my blog about that trip was actually called “Stranger in Moscow”!! A great city in a fine country, and certainly a nice place to be a stranger in.

Backpacking in Moscow, 2007

8.Hotel California – The Eagles

I backpacked it loyal when I visited California for the first time in 2007, certainly not staying in the Hotel (come brothel) California with mirrors on the ceiling and champagne on ice. Los Angeles, and later in life San Francisco I ended up in.

Partying in Los Angeles, California, USA

9.Colombia – Oasis

I have a feeling that the Oasis song “Columbia” is not even related to the country, the spelling is also usually Colombia. It is probably a club in London, or Columbia records but I still whacked Columbia, a cracking tune onto my iPod when I backpacked through Colombia in 2010-2011. My highlight was the gorgeous day out at Laguna Guatavita. Wow!

The beauty of Laguna Guatavita in Colombia!

The beauty of Laguna Guatavita in Colombia!

10.Ash – Pripyat

Last on this little list and definitely not least are Northern Irish rock band Ash for their excellent yet spooky song about Pripyat. Pripyat is a deserted town in Ukraine that once had 50,000 people but it is now desolate and decrepit having been abandoned in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Backpacking in Pripyat: Swimming Pool Azure

Places in song titles I haven’t yet visited but would like to:

Babylon – David Gray / Boney. M – Iraq
Khe Sahn – Cold Chisel – Vietnam
Amarillo – Tony Christie

…and there will be a few more…

What song titles are there where you have visited those actual places?


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