You're currently on the mobile-optimised view of this article.

Switch to the desktop view

Musical hearts belong to Glasgow and Edinburgh

Published on 31 January 2012

Scotland’s great cities have been inspiring musicians for centuries, and now that influence has been confirmed with the discovery that Glasgow and Edinburgh are mentioned in more song titles than other UK cities.

Loading article content

Scotland’s great cities have been inspiring musicians for centuries, and now that influence has been confirmed with the discovery that Glasgow and Edinburgh are mentioned in more song titles than other UK cities.

A list of city names in the titles of pieces of music has been compiled by PRS for Music, the music publishers’ association, showing that Glasgow is the most mentioned city, appearing in 119 titles, with Edinburgh in second place with 95 mentions.

Both Scottish cities rank ahead of musical heartlands in England including Liverpool, the home of the Beatles, which was ranked fourth, and Manchester, source of the Madchester scene, at fifth. The third most mentioned city was Birmingham.  (London was excluded from the list, removing classics such as Ralph McTell’s Streets of London and The Clash’s London Calling.)

Guy Fletcher, chairman of PRS for Music “Songwriters feed off their inspiration and this could be anything from a feeling or an object or place. It seems that a number of songwriters have taken Glasgow into their hearts and felt it was right to produce a piece of work about their feelings towards the city. It’s great to see two Scottish cities, both Glasgow and Edinburgh, having such an effect!”  

Tracks about Glasgow include a plethora of Old Firm football songs, but also range from rock and pop to ceilidh music. Prominent are classic music hall songs like Will Fyfe’s I Belong to Glasgow, written in 1920 and re-recorded by many artists since, and ballads such as Hue and Cry’s Mother Glasgow.

Tunes acknowledging Edinburgh include the traditional Flowers of Edinburgh reel and Mike Scott’s Edinburgh Castle. Ironically, the latter concludes with the singer’s return to Queen Street station: “I gotta say it's totally great to be back in Glasgow again!”

The PRS research only included titles that actually mentioned the city name, so songs like Abba’s Super Trouper (“When I called you last night from Glasgow”), and tracks like Belle and Sebastian‘s A Century of Elvis, which mentions Byres Road, and Amy MacDonald’s Barrowland Ballroom, were not covered.

The full top 10 list is:

1 Glasgow 119 mentions

2 Edinburgh 95

3 Birmingham 89

4 Liverpool 67

5 Manchester 63

6 Belfast 60

7 York 59

8 Brighton 54

9 Bristol 49

10 Newcastle 31

Below are 10 of the best-known songs that mention Glasgow, and 10 from Edinburgh. We’d love to know if we’ve omitted your favourite, and which classic Scottish city tunes you’d nominate that feature Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness or Stirling. Please use the commenting facility to send us their titles.

Glasgow

I Belong To Glasgow, Will Fife

Mother Glasgow, Hue and Cry

Streets of Glasgow, Alastair Caplin

Let Glasgow Flourish, John Bell

I wish I was in Glasgow, Billy Connolly

A Glasgow Symphony, Edward McGuire

Going Home to Glasgow, Ian Davison

Glasgow Love Theme from Love Actually, Craig Armstrong

Glasgow Kiss, John Petrucci

Good Morning Glasgow Town, the Skunnered


Edinburgh

The Flowers of Edinburgh, arr Jimmy Shand

Edinburgh Castle, Mike Scott

Within a mile of Edinburgh Town, traditional

Edinburgh Man, The Fall

Duchess of Edinburgh, arr Gordon Duncan

Edinburgh Nights, Anna Wendy Stevenson

Pipes of Edinburgh, arr Daniel Connor

Singing away the cold in Edinburgh, Digby Fairweather

Come Back to Edinburgh, Billy Liar

Edinburgh, The McCalmans

81778