City Melodies

City Melodies

Artistic expressions usually intertwine in some way, regardless of their specialty, and they create parallels that unite them almost by chance, one example is architecture. There are projects that seem to have their own rhythm; the geometry, lines, and corners that comprise them vibrate as melodies. The same happens in the opposite direction, music has been inspired by constructions, architects, and cities, and that is when the question “Who inspired who?” arises. Could it be that the oldest art created its cadence and only needed those gifted people in other subjects (music) to manifest itself?

En la Ciudad de la Furia - Soda Stereo

Soda Stereo, Argentinian rock band, surrounds listeners with this piece composed by Gustavo Cerati, which will take you flying over the blue streets of Buenos Aires, a dark, honest, sexy, and mysterious example, just like its protagonist. It is no secret that the capital city is famous for its susceptible architecture, which is transformed with time, but maintains details of each era as a historical treasure. Great architectural minds emerge from this land and a tour around its building opens the door to understanding its eclectic footprint, unique within Latin America. Today, much of its immigration is the result of this song, everybody wants a moment with the city of fury. 


Walk on the Wild Side - Lou Reed

Lou Reed opened a portal in time, whoever listens to Walk on the Wild Side will be transported to a 60’s New York, a time where its streets were dirty and loaded with excess; drugs, crime, and sexuality ruled the concrete jungle. This was beginning to take its toll and the locals were increasingly aware of it, and Reed emerged as a voice for the homeless, the misunderstood, the marginalized ones. The lyrics speak about a travesty and the way in which he lives and adapts to the wild city.

Also, at the time, art was out of control in New York, Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Reed, and many others led the scene. In cinema, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, and Martin Scorsese started making their way up through movies like Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, considered to be love letters dedicated to decadent New York City. 


Catholic Architecture - Robert Wyatt

This piece by Robert Wyatt speaks about religious architecture, it describes a bit of basic design in some churches, the images of the saints in them, devotion, and faith with which people access these temples.


Penny lane - The Beatles 

Perhaps the most famous street in all Liverpool, located in the Sefton Park district. The song makes no reference to the street itself, instead to the crossing with Smithdown Road, an important suburban bus transfer spot and where many stores were established, in addition to St. Barnabas church.

We can say that this song is a remembrance of Paul McCartney’s childhood, who used to visit the area when he sang with the church choir. McCartney, Lennon, and Harrison used to meet at the Penny Lane crossing as teenagers and they took the bus there to go downtown. Some of the places described in this song are still there, like the roundabout, the barber shop, and the fire station on Mather Avenue and Rose Lane.


Arquitetura de Morar - Tom Jobim

Part of the soundtrack for the documentary dedicated to Brazilian Architect José Zanine Caldas, it is an instrumental composition that exalts the landscape of houses designed by the master. Tom Jobim is one of the great Brazilian music masters. 

Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springsteen   

Bruce Springsteen composed this song for the movie Philadelphia (1993), one of the first films to address the HIV/AIDS topic. Its theme revolves around that post 80’s environment, where people began noticing the consequences of the excess from previous eras. Through it, we can feel the desolation and abandonment, main feeling within the city streets in a gray environment that started recovering little by little. 


Concrete Jungle - Bob Marley

Even though it does not speak about one specific place, it addresses the struggles of living in cities, the chaos and tension that can be felt when surrounded by all those buildings and the lack of contact with nature.

It might not be Bob Marley’s most popular song, but it played a very important role within the reggae genre and propelled it to break Jamaican borders, taking it to the whole world.


Come as you are - Nirvana

Seattle the grunge epicenter, rock subgenre that emerges in the 90’s decade and among its bands, Nirvana stood out. Both the musical genre and the city started to exude a dark, somber, and cynical feeling, a tool that allowed young people to express the way they felt, anger, and come as you are, masks out, no social conventions, no falsehood, becoming an hymn in the area. At the same time, the city’s style started turning into a more alternative look, hipsters moved there and started gentrifying and changing the landscape.  


Here I Dreamt I was an Architect - The Decemberists

The Decemberists speak about dreams, dividing them in three sections, where each one describes one moment in time, one mood. The first part talks about a German soldier who was so in love that would practically do anything for his love, except quit the army, so his relationship failed, speaking about a selfish love. The second one addresses the dream of becoming an architect, the feeling of creating something bigger than oneself, truly minimizing overconfidence, a mistake that cannot exist in a profession like this one. Here, love is also mentioned, the main character believes he is building a space which is strong enough to keep him by the side of the subject of his affection, but after it collapses, he realizes happiness can be experienced in freedom. The last part tells the future of the main character in Spain who is ready to die, as he remembers the women in his life.


Thru These Architect's Eyes - David Bowie

David Bowie dedicates this piece to three characters: Philip Johnson, Richard Rogers, and an imaginary architect (who in this case is the musician himself), in a time in which Johnson and Rogers were at the top of the matter, earning lifetime commissions and being flattered for their designs.

In the work, Bowie walks across a city passing big steel and glass towers designed by these two architects for multinational companies. The city is son imposing that it has the necessary resources to humiliate its spectators or make them go inspiration crazy. Positioned in the 90’s decade, capitalism flies its flag and history is reduced to one big party, the golden age. The singer speaks about this fantastic architect who is even better than the aforementioned and who is working in something he hates and does not dare to quit; his lack of guts creates resentment.