Friday Five: Baltimore

Juli Thanki | March 25th, 2011

Today is Maryland Day, a celebration of the day back in 1634 that settlers first stepped foot onto what would become Maryland soil. Several country singers have paid tribute to various aspects of the state over the years; here are five of my favorite songs about the city of Baltimore.

  • The Cold Hard Facts5. “Baltimore Johnny” – The Del McCoury Band

    This one’s an instrumental composed by Ronnie McCoury; it pays tribute to Jon Glik, a Baltimore-area fiddler who has been a member of Del McCoury’s Dixie Pals and performed with artists like Peter Rowan, David Grisman, and more.

  • All Time Greatest Hits4. “Tomorrow Night in Baltimore” – Roger Miller

    This is one creepy song as Miller proclaims the following about a showgirl: “I’ve made my crumbled mind up that I’ll never ever let her go.” Waylon Jennings recorded a fine, equally stalker-ish version, too.

  • Joshua Judges Ruth3. “Baltimore” – Lyle Lovett

    This song from Joshua Judges Ruth probably won’t be picked up by the Baltimore Tourism Bureau any time soon, considering the lyrics have a dying mother warning her son “If you go to Baltimore/Then I’ll see you in heaven/And as you breathe, I’ll breathe no more/And I will surely die.” And you thought your mom was the master of the guilt trip.

  • Volume Two2. “Baltimore Fire” – Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers

    The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 destroyed much of the city’s commercial district, and required over 1200 firefighters to put out the flames; Poole recorded this song about the incident 25 years later.

  • GP1. “Streets of Baltimore” – Gram Parsons

    I like Parsons’ and Bobby Bare’s versions of this Tompall Glaser/Harlan Howard song equally, but if you don’t like either of those recordings, numerous other artists have recorded their own versions as well, and with good reason: it’s got killer lyrics. Turns out love doesn’t always win out over glitz. (Well, the Inner Harbor is awfully nice…)

  1. Leeann Ward
    March 25, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I do like the Little Willies’ version of “Streets of Baltimore.”

  2. Matt B
    March 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

    It may not be about Baltimore specifically but Keith Stegall has a beautiful ballad called “Baltimore Street” on his Passages album.

  3. Barry Mazor
    March 25, 2011 at 10:29 am

    There are a couple of B’more songs by guys that aren’t exactly country, but have HEARD of it : “Baltimore’ by Randy Newman,m which had the Eagles on it, and “Baltimore Oriole” by Hoagy Carmichael..

    And there’s always the theme from “Homicide.” Now that’s country.

  4. Juli
    March 25, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I do like the Little Willies’ version of “Streets of Baltimore.”

    I wish they’d come out with another record.

  5. nm
    March 25, 2011 at 10:44 am

    If you look very, very closely, you can see the back of my head for a second in that”Baltimore Johnny” video.

  6. Bob
    March 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Can’t add to the Baltimore list but Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote and sang “Down in Mary’s Land”. The second verse begins:

    East of Virginia where the bay meets a river
    Down in Mary’s land

  7. Dan Milliken
    March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Wonderful as always. Heroin for everyone!

    Someone needs to do a country/bluegrass cover of “Good Morning Baltimore.”

  8. Stormy
    March 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    The Duhks did a remarkably old timey Dance Hall Girls.

    “Is this the way it always is in Baltimore?”

  9. Timeo
    March 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Living somewhat near Baltimore, I’ve long made note of songs about the city. On the country side, Sonny James had a very up song about Baltimore. Like almost everything else you can hear it on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fAz-RNhEuQ) Nitty Gritty Dirt Band also has a song with the same title on its album, “All the Good Times.” Forgotten country rockers Five Chinese Brothers did a great song about misplaced childhood nostalgia called (you guessed it) “Baltimore.” And, not-so-forgotten country-rocker Peter Case has yet another song titled “Baltimore” on his album “Torn Again.” That one is definitely the most greusome of the bunch. “Baltimore Fire” was covered by the McGarrigles and Emmylou Harris on “The McGarrigle Hour.” Not exactly country, Counting Crows did “Raining in Baltimore. And way away from country, the musical Hairspray has a song called “Good Morning Baltimore.”

  10. Paul W Dennis
    March 25, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Of course there is always “Barefoot In Baltimore” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock back in 1968. It wasn’t a big hit nationally but was quite popular in the Baltimore area

    … Baltimore is music
    Dancing in the street
    Half-chewed Dubble Bubble
    Tugging at our feet

    Melted tar in crosswalks
    Crab shells in the park
    Pavement frying our poor toes
    Until long after dark …

  11. Ken Johnson
    March 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Next to Bobby Bare’s hit my second favorite version of “Streets Of Baltimore” is by Charley Pride from his live album recorded in 1968 at Panther Hall in Texas.

    As mentioned previously Sonny James 1964 top ten hit “Baltimore” is excellent. Love the early 60’s folk vibe. One of Sonny’s “forgotten” early hits.

    Johnny Cash’s 1974 version of “The Lady Came From Baltimore” deserves a mention too.

  12. Susan K
    March 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    It may have already been mentioned, but Carter’s Chord sang a cute song about Baltimore.

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