The 10 best songs written about Adelaide

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The 10 best songs written about Adelaide

Words by Mixdown Staff

Exploring the songs of the city of churches

Over the last few weeks here at Mixdown we’ve been giving you the top songs written about cities of Australia. Today we’re bringing you the top ten songs written about Adelaide, possibly one of the most underrated cities in all of the country.

There’s some songs about life in Adelaide, churches in Adelaide, and then some about not enjoying Adelaide at all – can’t get any more comprehensive than that.

Read up on all the latest features and columns here.

We’re taking a little break here at Mixdown and so should you. We’re reposting some old favourites of yours and ours!

‘Adelaide’ – Ben Folds

Ben Folds has enjoyed an ongoing love affair with Australia for 20 years now – he’s toured the country almost every second year in that stint, and lived in Adelaide with his former partner for a period of time in 1998.

This 2004 track, named after the city itself, is a love letter to the South Australian capital, praising the Adelaide 500 car race, Adelaide bogans, the popular shopping district Rundle Mall and his admiration for Adelaide beer. Ben composed a lot of music while living in Australia, including his most popular album, Rockin’ The Suburbs. 

‘Hindley Street’ – Powderfinger

Written by frontman Bernard Fanning and featured on their 1998 album Internationalist, ‘Hindley Street’ is about the red-light district of Adelaide: a South Australian rock star’s paradise, if you will. The song’s about living life on the street, and the cold weather that Adelaideans face on a regular basis.

It also name checks the Todd Street Mall in Alice Springs. Powderfinger are well known for namedropping various Australian locales in their tunes, which has maybe helped them establish the legendary status they possess today. Check out ‘Hindley Street’ below.

‘Home and Broken Hearted’ – Cold Chisel

Written in 1978 for their self-titled debut album, ‘Home and Broken Hearted’ is about travelling home to Adelaide for Christmas to spend the holidays with your family, but actually spending it alone. As it the case of many Cold Chisel songs, this was penned by keyboardist Don Walker, who has a love for all things Australian in his writing.

‘Home and Broken Hearted’ mentions some other Aussie points of interest like the outer Adelaide suburb of Euston, and the popular car manufacturer Morris motors. See if you can hear any more.

‘Lost in Adelaide’ – Spiderbait

This alternative rock track is, as the title suggests, about losing someone in Adelaide, and the journey endured to find this said person. ‘Lost in Adelaide’ was featured on their 1999 album Grand Slam, and marked a very major change in sound for the group, moving away from hard driving rock to heavily produced dream pop.

It still worked well for the three piece, with the record reaching a casual number 10 on the ARIA charts. Get lost in Adelaide below.

‘Town With No Cheer’ – Tom Waits

He’s one the most polarizing acts out there, and in 1983, he wrote a track about The Festival State – there’s got to be something in that. ‘Town With No Cheer’ is based on a story Tom read while touring Australia about the outer Adelaide suburb of Serviceton closing their one and only pub.

About the writing of the song, Tom said “We found the write up and hung on to it for a year, I said one day I’m going to write a song about that.” It was featured on his seventh studio album, Swordfishtrombones. 

‘Adelaide’ – Paul Kelly

Another lover of all things Australian, Paul Kelly wrote this about his time living in the South Australian capital. It features many different stories from his upbringing, about what his house was like and mainly what life was like in Adelaide.

Paul was born in Adelaide in 1955, and grew up there before moving to Melbourne when he was 21. This track was featured on his first album Post, and was recorded again in 1986 with his backing band, The Coloured Girls, Check out their version below.

‘Northern’ – Bad//Dreems

Bad//Dreems are one of Adelaide’s most prominent rock outfits of today, and much alike all the other acts on this list, it appears growing up in Adelaide must be pretty musically inspiring. They penned this 2019 track about their hometown, and all the weird and wonderful things they get up to.

The story painted in the track is about a man’s run from his problem, and from the law. It’s full of different references, including popular Adelaide shopping complex, The Tea Tree Mall. ‘Northern’ was featured on the band’s third album, Doomsday Ballet. Check it out below.

‘Howl At The Moon’ – Don Walker

As we’ve established from a lot of songs in these lists over the last few weeks, Don Walker finds a lot of inspiration in what’s happening on our back doorstep. He spent a lot of his life in Adelaide, it’s where he first joined Cold Chisel. That’s why a lot of his own tracks and the songs he penned for Cold Chisel are based in Adelaide.

His 1995 track ‘Howl At The Moon’ followed this trend – it’s all about a man’s life in Adelaide, most likely based on the experiences of Don. It was featured on his solo album, We’re All Gunna Die.

‘One More Boring Night In Adelaide’ – Redgum

This song is a tongue in cheek jab at Redgum’s hometown. It’s sarcastically talking about how monotonous and uninteresting life is in South Australia, playing into the usual trope that anywhere is cooler than the place you grew up.

It’s jam packed with references to all things Australian and Adelaidean (too many to list here), but things like TV host Ernie Sigley and The Lion Hotel. It was recorded for their 1978 album, If You Don’t Fight, You Lose. Listen to ‘One More Boring Night In Adelaide’ below.

‘City of Light’ – Hilltop Hoods

This 2005 track was featured on their album The Hard Road. As the title suggests, it’s about the city of light, Adelaide. It talks about life in The Festival state, how it’s known as the city of churches, and how the city was once home to Australia’s biggest serial killer.

It also mentions the extreme temperatures South Australians face. Hilltop Hoods are one of Adelaide’s biggest exports, selling out shows here and around the world, and this track shows that the hip-hop trailblazers will also think fondly of home.

More on Adelaide music here.