If ever there are songs to get you thinking about travel, it has to be songs with countries in the title. While occasionally you may get a song that seems completely irrelevant to the country of its title, most of the time, the lyrics will help you relate to the destination and produce resonant images of what it’s like there. Here are some of my favorite songs with countries in the title that inspire me to think about my next trip or dream of faraway places.
Table of contents:
- cambodia – kim wilde
- a new england – kirsty maccoll
- don’t cry for me argentina – evita cast
- born in the usa – bruce springsteen
- walk like an egyptian – the bangles
- barbados – typically tropical
- big in japan – alphaville
- lost in france – bonnie tyler
- taste of india – aerosmith
- the lebanon –human league
- china girl – david bowie
- cuba – the gibson brothers
1 Cambodia – Kim Wilde
Ok, so it’s not the most cheery of songs with countries in the title, but Cambodia is emerging from the horrific Polpot led Khmer Rouge regime to become an absolute charm of the tourist scene. So much more humble than the other countries of South East Asia, Cambodia is a land of mysticism and enchantment.
2 A New England – Kirsty MacColl
Not a song about the clutch of North American states but about England. Stick it on and lie back thinking of rolling green landscapes and chocolate box villages where ducks lazily swim still millponds as Kirsty’s mellow tones deliver what is actually a new wave commentary on the state of the country back in the '80s.
3 Don’t Cry for Me Argentina – Evita Cast
This is one of those songs with countries in their title that is undeniably bang-on subject. As part of the score for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita, it’s a plaintive plea delivered by Eva Peron. To me, the original recording by Julie Covington is far the best, but Madonna didn’t do a bad job (forget the Glee version though!).
4 Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
Are there any more rousing patriotic songs about a country than this one? It’s so full of patriotism that it could be a national anthem and you don’t have to be an American to understand the sentiment either. Just think Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, California Girls and burgers.
5 Walk like an Egyptian – the Bangles
You know how sometimes, even if it is created synthetically, a sound manages to conjure up the atmosphere of a place? With this little ditty from the Bangles, you can imagine yourself on a camel on the way to the Pyramids or gearing up for some bargaining in a hot steamy soukh.
6 Barbados – Typically Tropical
Like the last one, this is one of the songs with a country in its title that really delivers on generating those magical images in your mind’s eye as you listen to it. Put it on and you’ll see the palms swaying, hear the sounds of the ocean gently lapping and all you need is a handsome waiter delivering a chilled pina colada.
7 Big in Japan – Alphaville
Hot to trot and direct from the New Wave of the '80s comes this rather weird but wonderful little tune. It contains some fairly oblique references to Japan that might just make you long for the bright lights of Tokyo or walks among the cherry blossoms. (P.S. Alphaville also recorded To Germany with Love.)
8 Lost in France – Bonnie Tyler
This 62 year old gravelly voiced welsh crooner has recently been chosen to represent the UK at the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. You probably know her best for Total Eclipse of the Heart, and honestly, Lost in France isn’t really one of the great songs about a country, but it’s the only one I could find about France.
9 Taste of India – Aerosmith
This may well be a song about a sultry Indian temptress but it is also, totally, an analogy for the country itself. Beguiling, teeming with mysticism, you will be as bewitched by India as Steve Tyler was by his Indian lady.
10 The Lebanon –Human League
Some really big names in the music world have produced songs with countries in the title about some very obscure places and this is one of them. This was written at a time when The Lebanon was a persona non grata in the travel world and Beirut was a place to be avoided at all costs. Today The Lebanon offers a wonderful heady mix of Arabia meets Mediterranean, and surprisingly a mix of summer and winter resorts.
11 China Girl – David Bowie
Ok, no matter how I try, I cannot make any case for this tune being related to the country in its title and many years later I still don’t understand the reference to swastikas, but hey it was a huge hit –and China is a country and it is in the title. Enough said I think. Move on!
12 Cuba – the Gibson Brothers
Born in Martinique and living in France, so of course it makes sense that when they write about a country it’s Cuba! Whatever their origin though, they managed to capture the ambiance of Cuba with this tune’s Latin rhythms, salsa beat and disco sound. (They also delivered songs about countries called Come to America and I Left My Heart in Jamaica, as well as Latin America and Caribbean Concerto.)
I was actually surprised that there are fewer songs with countries in the title than I imagined - although, there’s rather a good number about America. Who can think of any more?
Please rate this article