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Rock and Roll Road Trips: Lyrical Landmarks

Famous places mentioned in oldies songs, and where to find them


The Chelsea Drugstore in the Seventies

The Chelsea Drugstore in the Seventies

source: rbkc.gov.uk

Itchycoo Park

The Small Faces (1968)
Little Ilford Park, 135 Gainsborough Ave, Stratford, Greater London E12 6, UK Map

"Over bridge of sighs to rest my eyes in shades of green. Under dreamin' spires, to Itchycoo Park, that's where I've been."

The Faces' big American hit was indeed about a park band members once played hookey in -- but there's some dispute over which, exactly. Ronnie Lane himself places the address of the park in Ilford, so this is the most likely choice. (The "Itchycoo" was a Brit nickname for stinging nettles often found in parks.) However, the "dreaming spires" and "bridge of sighs" in the lyrics both refer to Oxford University, and there's a park on the campus, so the song can also be seen as a invitation to their students to "miss out school (won't that be cool?)"

Alice's Restaurant

Arlo Guthrie (1967)
Guthrie Center, 4 Van Deusenville Rd, Great Barrington, MA Map

"...two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower... they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin' all that room, seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't have to take out their garbage for a long time."

As folk singer Arlo himself noted in the intro to this sidelong live wonder, the true incidents he recalls began at the church down the street from the restaurant, not the restaurant itself. The church has since been taken over and renamed by the singer who made it famous!

(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay

Otis Redding (1968)
Waldo Pier, Sausalito, CA Map

"Sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll away. I'm just sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time..."

There are a number of houseboats on the Waldo Pier in Sausalito, and it was one just such one that Otis wrote his biggest hit. Although the "Frisco Bay" is mentioned in the lyrics, that was a reference by co-writer Steve Cropper to Otis' recent gig at Monterey, which inspired the singer to come up with this ballad as a way of solidifying his newfound pop base.

You Can't Always Get What You Want

The Rolling Stones (1969)
49 Kings Road, London SW3 Map

"I went down to the Chelsea drugstore to get your prescription filled. I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy, and man, did he look pretty ill."

Jagger did indeed go to this then-trendy drugstore -- which featured a delivery service made up of a squad of catsuited girls on motorbikes! -- to get a prescription for then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull. The "Mr. Jimmy," who was indeed under the weather, refers to producer Jimmy Miller; Jagger sang the new song to him, and he pronounced it "dead," band slang at the time for "cool."

Take It Easy

Jackson Browne (1972), The Eagles (1973)
E Second St & Kinsley Ave, Winslow, AZ Map

"Well, I'm standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see... It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin' down to take a look at me."

No one's sure if this is the exact corner Jackson Browne wrote about, but the city council picked it to immortalize, and there aren't that many corners in Winslow to begin with, so... this corner has been turned into an entire park of sorts where a commemorative festival is held every year.

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