Iconic Songs About Places Their Writers Hadn't Been To

John Fogerty wasn't born anywhere near a bayou
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2023 3:10 PM CST
Songs About Places Their Writers Had Never Seen
In this 1983 file photo, band members, from left, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro, Michael Porcaro, Dave Paich, Dave Herngate, Bobby Kimball and Steve Lukather of Toto pose after winning six Grammys during the 25th Annual Grammy Awards.   (AP Photo, File)

Sometimes a song can evoke a place so fully it's like being there—apparently for the songwriter as well, writes Amanda Mannen in Cracked. Hopefully today isn't the day you found out about Santa Claus, because Mannen somewhat gleefully runs through some of the most iconic odes to place in American song lore and how their scribes had never set foot in aforementioned place.

  • "Born on the Bayou," Credence Clearwater Revival: If by "bayou," you mean "Northern California," then John Fogerty and Co., the inventors of "swamp rock," were definitely born there.

  • "Africa," Toto: Writer David Paich watched a documentary about African poverty that "moved and appalled me. I tried to imagine how I’d feel about it if I was there and what I’d do." Mannen notes that he didn't actually do anything except consult a National Geographic article, "which is why much of it is completely wrong." You can't see Kilimanjaro from the Serengeti, a line which his bandmates thought was "dumb" until, as Mannen says, "it stupided millions into their bank accounts."
  • "Take Me Home, Country Roads," Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, John Denver: West Virginia just can't have nice things, because the song was actually about Maryland, but that didn't fit the meter. None of the three had ever been to actual West Virginia, which as Danoff said, "might as well have been in Europe, for all I know."
  • "Don't Stop Believin'," Journey: OK, so Journey had been to Detroit, and the song was written by Steve Perry in a Detroit hotel room. But the line, "Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit"—well, there is no South Detroit, and Perry knew it. "I ran the phonetics of east, west, and north, but nothing sounded as good or emotionally true to me as South Detroit."
Read the full list. (Or check out other stories about songs.)

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