11 Epic Rock Songs that Take You to a Certain Place

If travel isn’t on your horizon, why not take a musical journey instead by listening to one of these classic destination rock songs – from California to Japan, you’ll be rockin’ all over the world…

1) California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & The Papas

First released in 1965, this track by The Mamas & the Papas cemented its place as a classic when it featured as number 89 in Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

For all of you dreaming of sunnier climes, this is your anthem – it tells the story of a man in a cold winter dreaming of the warmth of California.


2) China Girl by David Bowie

Originally co-written in Berlin by Bowie and Iggy Pop, China Girl first appeared on Iggy Pop’s The Idiot album, but was re-released for Bowie’s 1983 album Let’s Dance, with a more commercial sound than Pop’s original.

It peaked at number 10 in the US charts and attracted lots of attention (and newspaper headlines) for its video – which features model and actress Geeling Ng lying naked on the beach with Bowie.


3) Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn

Coming from his self-titled 1991 album, Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis became his biggest hit, winning him a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1992.

If you’re planning a trip and need a starting point on landmarks to visit, take a note of the lyrics of this song – from Graceland to Beale St and Union Avenue, it references some of Memphis’ greatest landmarks.

In the mid-nineties, the track was covered by Cher and featured on her twenty-second studio album It’s a Man’s World.


4) Barcelona by Freddie Mercury

Although he was well known for writing and performing rock anthems with Queen including Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t stop Me Now and Killer Queen, Freddie Mercury also pursued a solo career, with Barcelona being one of his biggest hits.

Although it was originally released in 1987, Barcelona was also performed at the 1992 Summer Olympics after Mercury’s death, peaking at number two in the UK and New Zealand charts.

Featuring soprano Montserrat Caballe, it featured on a collaborative album Barcelona and also on Queen’s Greatest Hits III.


5) London’s Calling by The Clash

Taken from the 1979 studio album of the same name, London‘s Calling signaled a change on direction for The Clash, with elements of ska, jazz, funk and soul.

Ranked at number eight on Rolling Stones’ The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the album was about unemployment, racial conflict and drug use, and received unanimously positive reviews, going platinum in the US and selling over five million copies worldwide.


6) Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd

First appearing on their second album Second Helping in 1974, ‘Sweet Home Alabama‘ by Lynyrd Skynyrd reached number eight in the US in the same year. L

isten carefully and you’ll hear the lead vocalist, Ronnie Van Zant say ‘turn it up’ at the beginning of the song – apparently this was never intended to be in the song, but was down to the singer asking the producer and engineer to turn up the volume in his headphones.

‘Sweet Home Alabama’ has featured on the soundtrack of numerous films, including Forest Gump.


7) Walk like an Egyptian by The Bangles

Taken from the 1986 album Different Light, by the Bangles, this song was originally written after the songwriter saw people trying to keep their balance on a ferry, reminding him of Ancient Egyptian relief figures.

This song topped the Billboard singles chart, and was the first song by an all-female group playing their own instruments to do so.

The music video, which features people dancing throughout, was nominated in the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards and featured famous figures including Princess Diana.


8) Back in the U.S.S.R. by The Beatles

Written primarily by Paul McCartney, ‘Back in the USSR’ opens the White Album and was released as a single in the UK in 1976.

The sound of an aircraft flying overhead, which opens and closes the song, refers to a flight back to the U.S.S.R. from Miami Beach.

Written by Paul McCartney whilst the Beatles were in India, the title of the song is a tribute to Chuck Berry’s ‘Back in the USA.’


9) Africa by Toto

One of Toto’s most recognizable songs, Africa was included on the 1982 album Toto IV.

Written by the band’s drummer, Jeff Porcano and keyboardist David Paich, the initial idea for the song apparently came from the keyboardist, who said he was influenced by a late-night TV documentary screened in the 1980s about Africa – with the idea being about a boy who is trying to write a song about Africa, but can only rely on what he’s seen on TV or remembers from the past.


10) Viva Las Vegas by Elvis Presley

Recorded in 1964 for Elvis’ film by the same name, Viva Las Vegas has since featured on the soundtrack to a range of other films, from The Big Lebowski to Scooby-Doo.

For those looking for a modern-day Vegas wedding, there is a wedding chapel by the same name where you can opt for an Elvis-themed wedding. When in Vegas


11) Turning Japanese by The Vapors

The most popular song released by British band The Vapors, Turning Japanese comes from their album New Clear Days, and is their most well-known song.

The song, which hit the charts in 1980, features an oriental guitar riff and the song’s lyrics are mostly about pictures of the singer’s lover.

The band waited until their second single to release this track, trying to avoid it becoming a ‘one-hit wonder’, but they were never able to match its success.


Do you have a favorite song that takes you somewhere? Let me know in the comments.

6 thoughts on “11 Epic Rock Songs that Take You to a Certain Place”

  1. Wasn’t the chorus from Toto’s Africa somehting like… “I got the runs in Africa…”

    Deffo doesn’t make ME want to travel…


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