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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Top Six Songs About Muni That We'd Love to Play on Muni

Posted By on Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 3:42 PM

click to enlarge n_judah_9_2.jpg
Okay, so none of these songs -- with the possible exception of one -- are technically about our transit system here in San Francisco. But this post on Muni Diaries got us thinking: What music would we play if we could be a Muni DJ for a day? And even better, what songs capture the essence of our favorite and most-used Muni lines? So we got to thinking and listening, and came up with this list of the top six songs we'd love to play on Muni, along with which lines they'd make a perfect soundtrack for.

6. N-Judah: Jimi Hendrix, "Hear My Train A Comin'"
Key lyric: "Well, I'm waiting down the train station, waiting for that train/ Waiting for the train to take me from this lonesome place."
Why it works for Muni: In addition to being one of our favorite songs of all time (we're partial to one particular live electric version), Hendrix here perfectly captures one of the major blues of life in San Francisco: Waiting for the N-Judah. And waiting. And waiting some more. When he sings, "I'm gonna come back and by this town," we hope Jimi means he might just buy Muni and fix it, too.

5. 71-Haight: Lynyrd Skynyrd, "That Smell"

Key lyric: "So take another toke, have a blow for your nose/ One more drink, fool, would drown you."

Why it works for Muni: Anyone who rides the 71-Haight regularly knows that the bus can have some pretty funky smells -- smells which often seem to emanate from the kinds of people the song describes. (Don't be offended -- we've been part of the freak show at times, too.) But really, we dig this

song's '70s vibe and think it works pretty well for a line serving a

neighborhood that will always in some ways be stuck in the past.

4. F-Market: Billie Holiday, "I Cover the Waterfront"
Key lyric: "Away from the city that hurts and knocks/ I'm standing alone by the desolate docks/ In the still and the chill of the night/ I see the horizon, the great unknown."
Why it works for Muni: A line so unabashedly retro as the F-Market streetcar deserves an old-timey soundtrack. And not only does the line literally "cover the waterfront" -- from Market Street to Fisherman's Wharf, at least -- but this Billie Holiday tune embodies the way we feel late at night, leaning back in an old vintage vinyl seat on one of the F-Market's 1930s streetcars, staring out at the lights on San Francisco Bay.

3. 22-Fillmore: Charles Leonard, "Funky Driver on a Funky Bus" (Sample on iTunes)
Key Lyric: "I asked the driver where we go/ He say, 'Read the signs, man, and then you'll know'/ I was so mad, I wanted to cuss/ The funky driver on the funky bus."
Why it works for Muni: A standout on the incredible Bay Area Funk compilation (seriously, go buy this record right now), this Charles Leonard tune is a local product -- so it very well could be about the 22-Fillmore. Even if it's not, the song's lyrics, about a bus driver who doesn't take late transfers, doesn't give directions, and is all but impervious to his passengers' complaints, jibes with a few experiences we've had on this cross-town route. But we love the 22-Fillmore. As this bus rolls from the Marina through the Western Addition and the Mission to Potrero Hill, it embodies the diverse funkiness of San Francisco.

2. K-Ingleside/T-Third: Ozzy Osbourne, "Crazy Train"
Key lyric: "Mental wounds not healing/ Who and what's to blame/ I'm going off the rails on a crazy train."
Why it works for Muni: Here's what we want to know: who and what's to blame for giving this line two different names and letters that apply at different places along its route? That's driving us crazy. Off the rails, even.

1. J-Church; Neil Young, "Come on Baby, Let's Go Downtown"
Key lyric: "Snake eyes, French fries, and I got lots of gas/ Full moon and a jumpin' tune, now you don't have to ask."
Why it works for Muni: We're situated in the city such that the J-Church, for us, is always a ride heading to fun -- either out to the Mission or straight downtown. (Feel free to replace the J-Church with whatever line that is for you.) And few things get us feeling like a party more than this rockin' Neil Young tune (the best version is on the essential solo album Tonight's the Night). We'll take "gas" here to mean "energy" -- or maybe a Clipper card -- and forget about the "full moon" concern. It's worth going downtown to party in San Francisco even when the fog hides it.

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown and @iPORT

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Ian S. Port


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