A while back I did a blog called Around the World in 20 Plays and I had it in mind to do another one when I came up with this title and thought, that’s a better idea; not many lists on the internet deal with this subject (that I know of anyway). Of course what it should be called is The World is Romantic and Extremely Political! See below. I didn’t set out to do a list but it grew into one which in turn birthed its own complexities. Obviously some countries like Georgia share their name with a US State and most songs about Georgia are to do with that. Chad shares its name with a man’s name. China shares its name with crockery, though I have listed a couple eg Broken China, Phil Collins Like China and T’Pau’s China in Your Hand. Then there are songs like A New England or A New South Wales; both of which share names with US and Australian States, I think both DO pertain to the countries so I included them. Turkey meanwhile shares its name with a bird. And then you have titles which feature two countries like American English, Japanese to English. In this case I list them under the country named first. Then there’s Britain/British and Scandinavia/Scandinavian, for now these are not listed as are areas of cities named after countries eg Chinatown, Little Italy, though I did list Swiss Cottage even though it almost certainly pertains to London it may also be ambiguous and Spanish Steps. Likewise country names in parentheses, to include or not? And cover versions could unleash a separate blog sized can of worms so I’ve merely listed the prominent ones.
Generally speaking I’ve listed either a song featuring a country by name or its adjective e.g. England/English, Wales/Welsh. No islands, areas, states or provinces. I have however included Palestine. If a song is a direct country name eg Egypt then it appears first. In some cases I’ve listed a country by its former name eg Burma, Persia, Siam. I was more interested in the pastoral and hence tried to steer clear of political songs, however there are some exceptions e.g. G N R, Midnight Oil, Muslimgauze (without whom some of the more interesting countries would have no or little coverage) and Wings Irish lament. Interesting titles were also in. As you may imagine it’s the populist countries which come up most often (Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain and the USA especially). Quite why America captivates so many songwriters is intriguing as it is staggering! Almost no stone left unturned. Strangely there are not many odes to Australia, Canada or Greece. There were a couple of agonising times I came across beautiful items I couldn’t use because there was no title song! See Libya and Luxembourg below. About the continents, this in itself is challenging. Some see the Americas as a separate North America and South America and technically Oceania doesn’t exist but I thought it apt for this list. Finally, the image above is from the Guangzhou Tram and was chosen for my original intention and liking for the new romantic era of the early 80s. As an embellishment I’ve included some of the cover art belonging to these releases. I also adopted a ‘no snobbery’ approach borrowed from my friends over at Into the Popvoid. So fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take off. *As this is a list in progress and may be added to over time, I’ve had to produce five distinct blogs as well as this intro. *PS – I apologize in advance if any of these songs are politically incorrect. If I have inadvertently posted a song which happens to be racist, or discriminatory please let me know and I will remove it.
Some of the songs on this list come from: