Cities and Their Soundtracks: 13 Songs to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Music carries with it a special kind of power. For most of us, we already have music rituals that we have cultivated throughout our lives. You know the songs to throw on after a long day at work, the tunes that will bring life back to a lazy hang with friends, and even the songs that will help the tears flow after a breakup. It’s safe to say that music is ingrained in our emotional habits. And speaking of emotions: 2020– amirite? While this year has been a total whirlwind (to put it very lightly), it’s important to still appreciate the comforts we can find in the ordinary.

While I’m sure many of us would love to catch flights and start exploring this big, beautiful world of ours again, it’s definitely not something I can do in good conscience. The feeling of having your passport and boarding pass in one hand while your other drags your carryon through airport corridors can’t be replaced. Nor, can the wonder of seeing a city for the first time be matched. Snapping pictures of landmarks, sampling local eats and chatting with locals as you wander aimlessly through winding streets are all experiences that can’t really be duplicated.

So, I make no delusions to believe the following songs will replace any of those real-life feelings that come with actually exploring these cities. But, at the very least, they make a good distraction from the same four walls I look at everyday. Perhaps you can find a bit of joy in putting these on, closing your eyes and seeing if it takes you anywhere. Enjoy.

Midnight in Paris – Roman Lewis

Get Transported to: Paris, France

Listen to feel: Carefree, young, and in love in the most romantic city in the world.

Notable Lyric:

It’s Midnight in Paris
Drinking wine on the terrace
Without a care it seems
And all of the stars they gleam
A little bit brighter

Montreal – Port Cities

Get Transported to: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Listen to feel: Like the coolest guest at a hip, Montreal house party. You can practically feel the warm glow of laughter filling a small rental apartment.

Notable Lyric:

You were dancing on the white lines of St. Catherine street
The silhouette sun burning colours in your eyes that I’ve never seen

Adelaide – Ben Folds

Get Transported to: Adelaide, Australia

Listen to feel: The eyes-wide fascination of an expat eagerly exploring the new place they call home.

Notable Lyric:

I can see their eyes around 
They’re pointed down 
They scan the spanning sidewalks 
Learning that there is no hurry 
Fuss or worry 
Adelaide

Vienna – Billy Joel

Get Transported to: Vienna, Austria

Listen to feel: Your worries begin to melt away. A good reminder to take it one day at a time, beautiful Vienna will be waiting for you.

Notable Lyric:

You’ve got your passion, you’ve got your pride
But don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?

London Boy – Taylor Swift

Get Transported to: London, UK

Listen to feel: That beautiful blend of comfort and excitement. That feeling when somewhere you’ve never been feels immediately like home.

Notable Lyric:

They say home is where the heart is
But God, I love the English You know I love a London boy
I enjoy nights in Brixton, Shoreditch in the afternoon

Lost in Amsterdam – Möwe, Jonasu, Eskeemo

Get Transported to: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Listen to feel: The wide-eyed, wholesome joy found by walking in circles around a city you don’t know. The excitement that propels you forward, before you can even think of checking a map.

Notable Lyric:

Let’s get lost, lost in Amsterdam
Where it’s you and me together
Making trouble, making friends
Let’s get lost, lost in Amsterdam
We’ll be strolling ’round the canals and dance
Lost in Amsterdam

Oslo – Anna of the North

Get Transported to: Oslo, Norway

Listen to feel: A fire’s glow burning in your soul, light and airy while still being fully alive. Like a hug from your favourite person.

Notable Lyric:

From the start, Oslo
Light in my heart, red glow
Drink in bars, dance on the roofs of cars
In the burning streets of Oslo

Barcelona – Ed Sheeran

Get Transported to: Barcelona, Spain

Listen to feel: All the feels that come along with a night out with your most exciting friend. You know, the one that makes you sing karaoke and stay out way past your bedtime. Bonus: it’s a song even your mom will like.

Notable Lyric:

Come on and dance with me in Barcelona
Drinking Sangría
I just want to be in Barcelona

Place de la Republique – Cœur de Pirate

Get Transported to: Paris, France

Listen to feel: The piano keys and romantic French language overwhelm you with serenity and bliss.

Notable Lyric:

And our hearts, our hearts stayed in this sea

Et nos cœurs, nos cœurs sont restés dans cette mer

I ran along the Seine 

J’ai couru en longeant la Seine 

Hoping to find you, serene soul 

En espérant te retrouver, l’âme sereine 

On Yonge Street – Gordon Lightfoot

Get Transported to: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Listen to feel: The comfortability of a familiar scent or a warm cup of coffee on cold finger tips. Close your eyes to hear a Canadian icon take you to a rose-tinted version of Canada’s biggest city.

Notable Lyric:

Everywhere you go in a city by the lake
You’ll be sure and find it’s a case of give and take
Everyone you pass seems to wanna say hello
Even late at night when the streets are all aglow

Chicago – Frank Sinatra

Get Transported to: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Listen to feel: Like you’ve been transported to the past, but one where it’s all jazz and none of the bad bits. A feeling of invincibility as the tune distracts you from the horrors of the world.

Notable Lyric:

Bet your bottom dollar you lose the blues in Chicago, Chicago
The town that Billy Sunday could not shut down

New York City – They Might Be Giants

Get Transported to: New York City, New York, USA

Listen to feel: Like you are in a movie montage, flashing through all of New York’s most known attractions. Analogous to skipping down the sidewalk with your best friend.

Notable Lyric:

Statue of Liberty, Staten Island Ferry, Co-op City, Katz’s and Tiffany’s
Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, The Empire State where Dylan lived
Coney Island and Times Square, Rockefeller Center
Wish I was there

Our Last Summer – ABBA

Get Transported to: Paris, France

Listen to feel: Nostalgic for memories you haven’t made yet.

Notable Lyric:

The feeling right, the Paris night
Did it’s best to please us
And strolling down the Elysee
We had a drink in each cafe

There’s nothing quite like a well-curated playlist to act as a companion through tough times. In this list I tried to mix the classics with some new finds, with the intention of transporting you to a new city, even if just for a moment. I chose songs that inspire me, and allow me to look hopefully towards the future. It’s a future full of excitement, adventures, and throwing myself into each moment wholeheartedly. Here’s to making future playlists for the memories that are yet to come.

If you want to hear more songs that will take you on an auditory trip, check out this playlist. It includes the songs on this list, and more are being continuously added.