Let's get this out of the way: You won't find Tony Bennett on this list, or the equally great Judy Garland and her bouncy anthem "San Francisco." You also won't find any of the other generic San Francisco songs that everyone knows — even though we'll admit that Journey's "Lights," which has been adopted by the Giants along with "Don't Stop Believin'," is probably the best song that's vaguely about San Francisco there is, even though Steve Perry admits the original lyric was "when the sun shines on L.A.," and he changed it because "the Bay" sounded better.

We wanted to make a list of more obscure San Francisco songs, particularly those that mention actual places in the city, even if the references are just in passing. These songs form the lyrical base of SF's modern-day songbook. Whether it's Sun Kil Moon singing about eating crab cakes at Perry's, or Jerry Garcia singing about the Mission in the rain, this is what our real soundtrack is, when we're not in a ballpark.

20. "Got the Gate on the Golden Gate" by Mel Tormé

The Velvet Fog himself wrote this tribute to a city he called "more welcoming" than New York. It's a quirky little song about "meeting my love on the Golden Gate" that starts out with a funny intro about "a lot of songs have been written about San Francisco" and the requisite cable car reference. But this is one of the catchiest and best San Francisco songs you've never heard. -- Jay Barmann

19. "San Francisco Days" by Chris Isaak

Want to hear something weird? I've never met Chris Isaak. I've lived in SF for 17 years, and in the Outer Sunset (where he lives/used to live, depending on whom you believe) for over a decade. I know A LOT of people. And I've been in media for 10 years! So you'd think that our paths would have crossed, but, nope. Then again, back in 1999, a rumored stalker allegedly set fire to his OS house, and the googling I had to do to find the preceding link suggests that his fans are, ahem, intense. So maybe it's not so weird. Anyway, this song. I didn't especially like it when I heard it on the 1993 album of the same name — even then, it felt like "Hello, Cleveland!" pandering to me. (The track I did and still love from that record: "Round 'n' Round." So good!) But that was three years before I moved here, so I didn't have any idea how love for this town could fill you to the point of abject cheesiness. Still not my cup of Anchor, but now I get it. And I'm not just saying this to engineer some kind of meeting. -- Eve Batey

18. "Ben's My Friend" by Sun Kil Moon

Singer Mark Kozelek's love for San Francisco pervades most of his songbook. Between his Red House Painters days and the latter years as singer for Sun Kil Moon — which he admitted was basically just a continuation of Red House Painters, rebranded in 2003 to get some new critical attention — Kozelek has written an epic song cycle about, and evocative of, the city he calls home. This rambling song from the 2014 album Benji makes reference to Mark's friendship with Ben Gibbard, singer/songwriter of Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service. It also name-checks Union Street, Perry's, the Tenderloin, and the Berkeley Greek Theater, the latter in reference to The Postal Service's 2013 show there. -- Jay Barmann

17. "Planet Fillmoe" by San Quinn

Oakland-born, Fillmore-district-raised rapper San Quinn made his first stage appearance at the age of 12 opening for Tupac Shakur in 1989. In 1996, he filmed one of his first videos, for "Shock the Party," in the former Outta Control (OC) project towers in the Fillmore. Now, a little older, he's still rapping about his neighborhood, as in this 2010 release. -- Jay Barmann

16. "Don’t Marry Her, Fuck Me" by The Beautiful South

And the Sunday sun shines down on San Francisco Bay
And you realize you can't make it anyway
You have to wash the car
Take the kiddies to the park
Don't marry her, fuck me

...is the chorus to this 1996 single from English 80s/90s pop group The Beautiful South. It's a sad song, in which a woman tries to convince a man to forego a boring suburban existence with one woman for the fun the singer presumably offers. So why "San Francisco Bay" from a group from the U.K.? I've no idea, but I like to think that the character singing the song is an SF "free spirit" painting a picture of this man's forthcoming miserable (she claims) life in the East Bay. And it's funny, when I first heard the song in '96, I was on the narrator's side, but now I think she's kind of a judgmental bitch. -- Eve Batey

15. "Mission Bells" by The Aislers Set

This brooding, 60s-ish song about hearing Mission bells ringing reminds me of my early days in the Bay Area, when my roommate loved this San Francisco band, and this album. Songwriter Amy Linton didn't write a lot, directly, about SF, but this song from 2003's How I Learned to Write Backwards is one of her tributes to the city, and one of the band's more enduring songs. -- Jay Barmann

14. "All the Lost Souls Welcome You to San Francisco" by American Music Club

"I keep looking for the party/ so come on, Marty / you're the king of 22nd Street." American Music Club was founded in SF way back in 1983, and they even recorded part of one of their albums, 1989's United Kingdom, at the Hotel Utah. This song, from 2008's The Golden Age, features a video starring Grace Zabriskie, a.k.a. Laura Palmer's mother from Twin Peaks, and even though I'd take issue with implying San Francisco's full of lost souls — or that it's a "city built on firetrucks and skeletons" — it still rings right as one of our many obscure anthems. -- Jay Barmann

13. "Pacific Heights" by Pep Love

"Pacific Heights" is more of a symbol than a reference to the actual neighborhood, but this 2001, decidedly West Coast track by Pep Love makes plenty of references to the Bay Area itself — earthquakes, mountainous terrain, Napa Valley wine, "hard hitters in Frisco, hard hitters in East O." It comes out of that era of the 90s when Digable Planets and the Black Eyed Peas were bringing more articulate lyrics to hip hop, and this track still ranks with some of the better, Cali-centric songs from back then. -- Jay Barmann

12. "Grace Cathedral Hill" by The Decemberists

Not just rooted in place but also in time, this departure from The Decemberists' ghost stories and war ballads from their 2002 Castaways and Cutouts album takes place at the famous Episcopal cathedral on Nob Hill, and down at Hyde Street Pier ("the air it stunk of fish and beer") all on "a New Year's Day." Its haunting refrain, "Are you feeling better now?" seems aimed at a loved one lighting candles in the ornate church. The song evokes a melancholy mood, and it's probably the second prettiest song written about this particular hill, after #2 on this list. -- Caleb Pershan

11. "White Girl" by Soul Coughing

When this song came out on 1996, the third track on Soul Coughing's Irresistible Bliss, one of my dialed-in friends said that band frontman Mike Doughty was spending a lot of time in SF, as "that's where the best heroin is." I refused to entertain this assertion, because back then I believed the best in everyone. But look at these lyrics (especially the second verse) about a woman seen at Market and Van Ness and tell me this does not sound like someone smacked out of their mind staggering down that stretch of street. -- Eve Batey

10. "St. Dominic's Preview" by Van Morrison

After moving with his family to Marin County, “The Belfast Cowboy” recorded much of the 1972 album St. Dominic’s Preview at Wally Heider Studios and Pacific High Studios in SF The album’s title track is a reference to the gothic St. Dominic’s Church at Bush and Steiner: Morrison says he had been dreaming of a prayer for peace in Northern Ireland before he learned of just such a mass being held in San Francisco at St. Dominic’s. Lyrics reference a Safeway run, cleaning windows (a favorite Morrisonian occupation) and “Edith Piaf’s soul,” whatever that’s about: “’St. Dominic's Preview.’ You know something? I haven't a clue to what it means,” he told Rolling Stone. -- Caleb Pershan

9. Glenn Tipton by Sun Kil Moon

Sun Kil Moon's 2003 album Ghosts of the Great Highway continued the work of singer Mark Kozelek and drummer Anthony Koutsos's previous band Red House Painters, rebranding them for a new decade. This song from that album makes a reference many people may not recognize, to the still excellent Bob's Donuts on Polk Street, which was presided over for years by owner Eleanor Ahn. (It's now run by daughter Aya Ahn and her husband.) "I knew an old woman who ran a doughnut shop/ she worked late servin' cops./ Then one morning baby her heart stopped. / Place ain't the same no more / The place ain't the same no more,/ not without my friend, Eleanor." -- Jay Barmann

8. He's the Greatest Dancer by Chic

There may only be the reference to "one night at the disco on the outskirts of Frisco," but this song still deserves its place on this list just to represent the disco era, which was huge here at places like the Trocadero Transfer. Sadly, SF's great disco legend Sylvester didn't write a San Francisco disco anthem, so this will have to do. -- Jay Barmann

7. Passenger Side by Bearstronaut

"We wanted to write a song about somewhere we had never been to before," Bearstronaut lead singer Robert Martineau tells SFist. "The song is basically about a made-up scenario of us being drunk and lost in San Francisco. We literally looked at a map and found those cross streets and ran with it to give the story a more specific location." Visiting San Francisco last year, Martineau stood in the spot he mentions in the song: Folsom and 6th Street, where, as the lyrics go, he was "at the bottom of his glass." 1015 Folsom, which is right there, might not have been what they had in mind, though. -- Caleb Pershan

6. 16th and Valencia Roxy Music by Devendra Banhart

The title has little to do with the lyrics themselves — except that the sentiments "Well, I know where not to go/ 'Cause I know where to go," and "I know I look high" are familiar enough to denizens of the Mission. The song recalls the band Roxy Music, and there's something to it that reminds me of an aimless night on Valencia, not quite sober, not knowing where to go, and repeating, "we ain't gonna find our lovers." -- Jay Barmann

5. "Love On Haight Street" by BT

I've always wondered why Mr. Brian Wayne "BT" Transeau called this track from his 2000 hip-hop/electronic release Movement in Still Life "Love On Haight Street," as the lyrics (performed by 50 Grand) don't seem to have a godamned thing to do the the Haight. "My inner thoughts get caught dwellin' in the valley with heat"? Perhaps an allusion to then-dicey Hayes Valley? Does the line "The legal hustle: cash money and women" refer to the then-bustling used CD trade at Amoeba? And I can only assume that "Never nuttin' nice when all of yo cash flow (what)/ 'pends on how the ivory's hittin' the Castro" refers to the keys of the Castro Theatre's organ. I'm just kidding, I have no clue! You tell me. Mockery aside, this song holds up as the kind of "cool" music you'd hear in a mixed-crowd bar on a show on the CW. -- Eve Batey

4. Mission in the Rain by Jerry Garcia Band

Jerry Garcia's ghost can still be seen in San Francisco on days like today, when the Mission is wet with fog and drizzle. This jam from his side project The Jerry Garcia Band, which he kept up until his death in 1995, might serve as an anthem for a changing district. Per Robert Hunter's lyrics: "There's some satisfaction in the San Francisco rain / No matter what comes down, the Mission always looks the same." The bells are tolling, sings Garcia, but not for him, and perhaps not for the Mission, either. -- Caleb Pershan

3. Piazza, New York Catcher by Belle & Sebastian

A walking tour of San Francisco from the ballpark to the TL, this track from the iconic Dear Catastrophe Waitress has always bugged me with one mondegreen. Here's the verse:

San Francisco’s calling us, the Giants and Mets will play
Piazza, New York catcher, are you straight or are you gay?
We hung about the stadium, we’ve got no place to stay
We hung about the Tenderloin and tenderly you tell
About the saddest ending of a book you ever had to read
The statue’s crying too and well he may
Until looking into the official lyrics, I'd been convinced that "well he may" was "Willie Mays" and that this was the statue in question (where the couple plans to meet at the end of the song). That said, it's a tune that's easy to obsess over, as some superfans have done in trying to lock down which game the musicians might have seen in San Francisco. But, as with Mike Piazza's sexuality, definitive answers are elusive. -- Caleb Pershan

2. "Grace Cathedral Park" - Red House Painters

Part of an early 90's wave of what alternative rock critics called "dream pop" — and what today might be called "sadcore" or something worse — Red House Painters' album, nicknamed Rollercoaster for the sepia image on its cover, also managed to evoke a summery mood in a pre-dot-com San Francisco. The band's home remained here until lead singer and songwriter Mark Kozelek decided to dissolve it and reform it under the name Sun Kil Moon in 2003, continuing to litter his songs with references to places in in the city. (See also #18 and #9) -- Jay Barmann

1. "I'm Always Drunk In San Francisco" by Carmen McRae

It may not namecheck any specific streets or bars, but Carmen McRae's little known classic has one rhyme in it that makes it, simply, the best song about San Francisco there is: "Tell me why does San Francisco/ just like a lover's kiss go/ straight to my brain?" -- Jay Barmann