Hearing a piece of music can bring memories of time and place, and there is plenty of music about housing.
Let’s start with a YouTube gritty backdrop to East London Ghettos. We are told here: “There is a misconception that London is all sunny and a happy place. This is what the media cover and don’t want you too see!!!”
Or perhaps you prefer songs about suburbia? The Monkees 1967 version of – Pleasant Valley Sunday was written by Gerry Goffin and Carol King, a social critique of the ‘sameness’ of suburbia and keeping up with the neighbours; tales of lawn mowing and roses, status symbols and repeated styles of housing. You can watch and listen to Carol King’s 1966 Demo here. In a similar vein Malvina Reynolds’ Little Boxes on the Hillside comments on the sameness of the boxes we live in and the lives we lead.
On houses as home, A House Is Not a Home was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the 1964 film, providing a romantic view of the meaning of home. This song came to prominence again with the Luther Vandross performance in 1981.
Later, in 1982, Madness recorded Our House and their video was filmed in Willesden junction, North West London. It’s described as being in their “characteristically tongue-in-cheek form, indulging their penchant for fancy dress, acrobatics and the kitchen sink”. This song tells us lots about the meaning of home, place and family (…. and who else had that wallpaper?)
The saddest housing song ever has to be Eric Clapton and Will Jenning’s Tears in Heaven written about the tragic unnecessary death as Eric’s 4 year old son fell to his death from a window of a New York apartment in 1991. This ballad tells of ongoing pain felt as such an unnecessary loss.
… and this blog could not of course be complete without something from Elvis. Listen to the words of In the Ghetto. Haven’t we seen this all played out in recent years?
Do you know other housing songs? I would love to hear from you!