When thinking of cities with songs about them, New York is the first to come to one's "Empire State of Mind," followed of course by the selection of West Coast cities available for "California Dreaming." But the punk, hip hop, and indie rock artists of Philadelphia have embraced their hometown's quirky charm and turned it into songwriting fuel. While outsiders like Elton John ("Philadelphia Freedom") and even North Jersey's Bruce Springsteen ("Streets of Philadelphia") can attempt to catch the spirit, it takes hometown troublemakers like Mischief Brew and the Fresh Prince to guide listeners on a tour of the real Philly.
If you're coming from Connecticut, New Jersey resident and children's book author Sandra Boynton (along with Philly folk duo the Bacon Brothers) recommend taking the I–95 to East River Drive to see some swing–dancing "Philadelphia Chickens." If poultry with rhythm aren't your thing, then alt hip hop group G. Love & Special Sauce are here to say that "the only way to go is I–76." G. Love and crew provide driving instructions to Fishtown via I–95 and Center City on the 676 as well, for all your Philly driving needs.
For those more inclined towards public transportation, the Scranton–based punk band The Menzingers still miss the girl that they met at "Tasker–Morris Station" on the Broad Street Line. Meanwhile, on the song "Beat Up Guitar," the Hooters write a song at "Kensington Station" (most likely Allegheny Station on the Market–Frankford Line, which stops at the intersection of Kensington and Allegheny Avenues, as Kensington Station does not exist) for a girl who lives on Vine Street. The Hooters and The American Dream remind listeners, however, that you "Can't Get To Heaven on the Frankford El."
South Street and its rich alternative heritage have been the focus of several Philly–based songs, starting with R&B group The Orlons' 1963 "South Street," proclaiming it "the hippest street in town." Once there, The Dead Milkmen recommend finding a "Punk Rock Girl" at Crash Bang Boom, formerly known as Zipperhead, and taking her to the Philly Pizza Company. Now that the Company in question , Lorenzo and Son's at 305 South St. isn't a bad alternative. South Street might not be for everyone, though: Adam Goren, better known by his stage name Atom and His Package,"beg[s] Mayor Rendell and the cops on the street / To have mercy on me and Jen and please blow up South Street."Goron's recommendation is LOVE Park, also known as John F. Kennedy Plaza.
Lansdale pop punk band The Wonder Years have little love for South Philly as a whole: their sophomore LP The Upsides, written in lead singer Dan Campbell's Manton Street house in Point Breeze, features a song called "It's Never Sunny in South Philadelphia." While Campbell admits on "Everything I Own Fits in This Backpack" that he's "not fond of South Philly ... [but] I guess it's better than Bancroft Street," the two places of hope on The Upsides are the fountain in "Logan Square" and "Washington Square Park."
On the Penn side of the Schuylkill, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince are there to reminisce in "Summertime" about the beauty of the Belmont Plateau, "a place ... where everybody goes." "Lancaster Avenue Blues" by Mischief Brew, meanwhile, remember a West Philly before the "Univer-City banners came." Rather than summer in Fairmount, they remember a punkier neighborhood in the days before .
Of course, if you don't have a car and SEPTA is just too unreliable, if South Street seems too far away and the new West Philly looks nothing like what The Fresh Prince or Mischief Brew say, there exists one song that captures the Philadelphia spirit, and every Penn student's experience, like no other: Chris Gethard and Mal Blum's "Crying at the Wawa," because "sometimes you gotta cry in public, even if it makes a bunch of people in a Wawa really uncomfortable."