In honor of a big win by the San Francisco Giants, in this year’s edition of World Series Songs featuring songs related to the championship team’s name or locale, we get the opportunity to look at the timeless song “San Francisco Bay Blues.” Also, check out our past Super Bowl Songs.
“San Francisco Bay Blues” was written by Jesse Fuller in 1954. Fuller was a type of musician we do not see much of anymore, the one-person band. While it is true today one might find a one-person band using computers and electronics, there was a time before that when a musician would play multiple instruments all at once. I have been lucky a few times to find a one-person band playing at a street fair and found the performances very entertaining. It has been a long while since I have encountered such a performer, making me wonder if these musicians are a thing of the past. But I guess they are still around, and they also have taken on different forms with the advent of technology.
Jesse Fuller was born in Georgia in 1896 and passed away in 1976 in Oakland, California. After working for a railroad and in a shipyard, he turned to music, playing around the San Francisco bay area where he lived. His most-famous song, “San Francisco Bay Blues” immortalizes his stomping ground as the singer tells about his “best girl” who no longer loves him. In the video below, watch Fuller and his one-man band perform “San Francisco Bay Blues” in 1968.
“San Francisco Bay Blues” has been covered by a number of artists, ensuring its lasting fame. Eric Clapton performed the song on MTV Unplugged in 1992 during the taping in England. The live album earned six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
Another performer who helped make the song familiar to us is Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Below is one of his performances of the song.
Finally, one knows one wrote a great song when one of the greatest songwriters of the century decides to cover your song. Here is Paul McCartney singing “San Francisco Bay Blues.”
In the song, the singer wonders about the woman returning and creating a “brand new day.” For those whose teams did not make the playoffs, we will have to wait until spring for our brand new day. And that’s the story behind the song.
What is your favorite song about San Francisco? Leave your two cents in the comments.
(Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)