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Planning Songs (Directly Or Indirectly)

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Second-to-last chemo treatment today, laying in bed, unable to sleep, listening to an old-old-oldies station. "Downtown" by Petula Clark comes on. I ask myself, "Is that a planning song?"

Don't know if you have had this thread before, thought I'd run it by the assembled planners, because it is, after all, "less than cosmic".

Downtown - Pet Clark - About 1965
First line says, "When you are lonely and life is getting you down you can always go, downtown."
Obviously, she is talking about a downtown with life, unlike the vast majority of America's cities. Small towns often have a vibrant "four corners", but we tend to call them "Uptown".
(Uptown Girl.....??.....Billy Joel.)

Ferry Cross The Mersey - Gerry & The Pacemakers - 1965?
Kind of fits, indirectly, with urban transportation.

Kansas City - Wilbert Harrison (& Others) Mid-60's
"Crazy kind of women there...." or some such line. Obviously talking about a PLANNED red light district, AKA Boston, others.

Speaking of Boston.....Dirty Water - The Standells - 1966
"I love that dirty water, oh, Boston you're my home." Environmental planners, get busy.

The Boss, Sprinsteen - City In Ruins (Title correct?) -= Couple years ago. I believe written as an ode to a Jersey city falling apart, but the message became intertwined with the NYC 911 story and tributes.

Another from Petula Clark, mid-1960's - Don't Sleep In The Subway, Darling. Obvious message about much of America's rapid transit, no doubt the fault of planners.....heh heh.....

Pleasant Valley Sunday - The Monkees - 1967? This one anybody who is or thinks they are (me) a planner can actually visualize the map with the curvy streets and cul-de-sacs.

Can't right now recall any Radiohead, Wilco, or hip-hop planning songs.....I'm old and need your young help.....

Certain that there are lots more.

Bear, Not Sleeping In Subway Or At Home


Bear - best wishes to you. We've covered this one before, but you've added several new ones. I don't think we ever mentioned these, either:

"Lake Shore Drive," by Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah about Chicago's favorite street.

There’s a road I’d like to tell you about, lives in my home town
Lake Shore Drive the road is called and it’ll take you up or down
From rags on up to riches fifteen minutes you can fly
Pretty blue lights along the way, help you right on by
And the blue lights shining with a heavenly grace, help you right on by

"My Little Town," by Paul Simon

And after it rains
There's a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It's not that the colors aren't there
It's just imagin-ation they lack
Everything's the same
Back in my little town


The Weakerthans, "One Great City!"

Late afternoon, another day is nearly done. A darker gray is breaking through a lighter one. A thousand sharpened elbows in the underground. That hollow hurried sound of feet on polished floor, and in the Dollar Store the clerk is closing up, and counting Loonies, trying not to say, "I hate Winnipeg." The driver checks the mirror, seven minutes late. The crowded riders' restlessness enunciates that the Guess Who suck, the Jets were lousy anyway. The same route every day. And in the turning lane, someone's stalled again. He's talking to himself, and hears the price of gas repeat his phrase: "I hate Winnipeg." And up above us all, leaning into sky, our Golden Business Boy will watch the North End die, and sing "I love this town," then let his arcing wrecking ball proclaim, "I hate Winnipeg."

The Honor System, "Muffled By Concrete"

One night I think you said to me that we’re broken
Well I’m still breaking
But I realize my skin’s not bulletproof either
Mazes in the cornfields died
And on their grave a new hotel lies
Only crumbling dirt and crumbling lives survive
That tune you’re humming never sounded so bleak to me

Father, have you done right?
“I broke my back, son, sold my time”
Fingers shredded even more than your spirit
They’ll break you in and work you down
until you pledge allegiance
To a system that brings you up just to knock you down
“I’d like to see you turn this world upside down”

Screaming voice of reason
Muffled by concrete
Beauty covered with parking lots
Seems these yellow lines are all we’ve got

Born as free men, tied hands
Eyes left bleeding, Goddamn
The one’s who’ve seen it, blinded
Here’s to those one’s who die trying

Desaparecidos, "Greater Omaha"

Well traffic is kind of bad. They’re widening Easy St. to fit more S.U.V.s. They’re planting baby trees to grow to shady peaks. A little shelter from the sun or the upper tax bracket. Here on the cul-de-sac, we are not giving back until the community repents. Cause we can’t afford to be generous. There are closing costs and a narrow margin. So go earn your degree and we’ll take you out to lunch. You can work for us but you have eat 'em all up. One more mouthful and we will be happy then. Out west they are moving dirt to make a greater Omaha. Another franchise sold so there are even more restaurants per capita. And they all have got a drive-thru, I mean who’s got time to dine. Although the floors are clean and the color scheme, it compliments me every time. So no one starves in this cattle town. The semis pass making squealing sounds. And it's ALL U CAN EAT and they will never get enough. They’ll be feeding us. They’ll be feeding on us. One more mouthful and they will be happy then. All those golden fields, lovely empty space, they’re building drug stores now until none remains. I have been driving now for 100 blocks, saw 50 Kum and Go’s, 60 parking lots. One more mouthful and I’m sure they will be happy then. Just one more. Just one more.


Did someone say Radiohead?

The Tourist-

It barks at no-one else but me,
like it's seen a ghost.
I guess it's seen the sparks a-flowin,
no-one else would know.
Hey man, slow down, slow down,
idiot, slow down, slow down.

Sometimes I get overcharged,
that's when you see sparks.
They ask me where the hell I'm going?
At a 1000 feet per second,

hey man, slow down, slow down,
idiot, slow down, slow down.

Hey man, slow down, slow down,
idiot, slow down, slow down.


Cross Town Traffic - by Jimi Hendrix

Here's my personal favorite. Open Letter to a Landlord by Living Colour. A Ballad of Gentrification.


Living Colour Open Letter (To a Landlord) lyrics
(V. Reid, Addition lyrics by T. Morris)

Now you can tear a building down
But you can't erase a memory
These houses may look all run down
But they have a value you can't see...

This is my neighborhood
This is where I come from
I call this place my home
You call this place a slum
You wanna run all the people out
This what you're all about
Treat poor people just like trash
Turn around and make big cash

CHORUS: Now you can tear a building down
But you can't erase a memory
These houses may look all run down
But they have a value you can't see

Last month there was a fire
I saw seven children die
You sent flowers to their family
But your sympathy's a lie
Cause every building that you burn
Is more blood money that you earn
We are forced to relocate
>From the pain that you create


We lived here for so many years
Now this house is full of fear
For a profit you will take control
Where will all the older people go?
There used to be when kids could play
Without the scourge of drug's decay
Now our kids are living dead
They crack and blow their lives away


You've got to fight
You've got a right
To fight for your neighborhood!


passdoubt said:
I have been driving now for 100 blocks, saw 50 Kum and Go’s, 60 parking lots.
OT: Wow, I never thought it possible to put "Kum and Go" in the lyrics of a popular song. Better known around my home state as "__________ and Evacuate" (first word rhymes with the last).

mike gurnee

"Little Boxes" by Pete Seger. An ode to the monotiny of suburbs and the midle class, early 60s.


Staff member
From Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al:

A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!

The video with Chevy Chase is a hoot.