London Calling: a Musical Trip to Britain’s Big City

Between me and London there is some kind of love and hate relationship. I met it, scouted it, lived in it more than once. Then I discovered the rest of Great Britain and decided that, for a while, London wouldn’t see me again. Nothing bad about it, because whenever I want to feel the London atmosphere again I just have to listen to the right music and here I am again on Waterloo Bridge.

In my last post about travels and music I made an almost tour of the world. Today I am going to focus on good old London.

Let’s start our trip with a classic which tells a lot about British society. Written in the 40s, it is still very up-to-date. I am talking about West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys. The refrain remembers us how an East End boy will never hit on a West End girl. So we know which one may be a popular area of the Big City.

I didn’t say Big City without any specific reason. From the 80s we jump directly to the new century. Here we have Big City Life by the Mattafix, a real hymn to night life London, the one feeding on music and that never goes to sleep before dawn.

Abbey Road album (photo by quasherthoughts)

From the Big City, so much beloved by the youngsters, lets get to another timeless classic which tells about a place at the centre of thousand journeys every day: Abbey Road by the Beatles. Here we are talking about an album that changed thousands of lives, travels, stories and songs. To represent such a mile stone I choose Come Together, a song that I personally love very much.

From one classic to another. There is a place, just out of London, a suburb which the Clash very much loved. I am talking about Brixton, south of town. When Guns of Brixton has been written, that place was all but recommended. But it was for sure full of life, colour, tensions. Brixton also is the corner in London where most Jamaican immigrants used to live.

Since we are already digging into the punk scene, let’s get to Primrose Hill, north of Regent Park. Here the punk was born as a music and a look style. Vivienne Westwood and her husband opened a recording studio and saw the Sex Pistols rise to celebrity, as the symbol of a protest which burned but never disappeared completely. How could I not think of God Save the Queen?

Primrose Hill (photo by Mike Rolls)

Whenever I think of Primrose Hill, a song about this place comes to my mind. It is For Tomorrow by the Blur, which remembers a visit to this corner of London.

I want to end this journey with an obvious thought, a timeless classic: London Calling by the Clash, ’cause London is drowning and I live by the river!

Born in 1978, polyglot, traveller by instinct. I grew up in Italy, but reached adulthood in Switzerland. While travelling I'm always optimistic, with tons of possible solutions to cover as many kilometres as possible. What comes is a travel still to be lived and told.

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