8 mins

11 songs that get their geography very wrong

Listen up, Band Aid: it WILL snow in Africa this Christmas. The Atlas Mountains are covered in the stuff! A selection of songs where the writers should have consulted a map...

Palm trees and Atlas Mountains (Shutterstock: see credit below)

1. Do They Know It's Christmas? – Band Aid

When the all-star cast sang, ‘there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time’ the good folk of Morocco chorused back ‘Oh yes there will!’ Truth is, there is consistent snowfall in the Atlas Mountains.

2. Bangkok – Alex Chilton

Starts off describing Bangkok as a little town in Indonesia and goes downhill from there. Alex Chilton was never destined to become a geography teacher. Or perform live in the Thai capital.

3. Sweden – The Stranglers

In which The Stranglers seem to think that Sweden's topography resembles a naked man lying on a table. It patently doesn't.

4. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver

In this heartfelt ode to West Virginia, John Denver sings plaintively of the Blue Ridge Mountains, their peaks looming into the state. The geographical reality? The Blue Ridge Mountains barely touch the eastern tip of the state.


5. Nashville Cats  – Loving Spoonful

Where Sun Records, a musical icon of Memphis, Tennessee is relocated to Nashville. A schoolboy error that had Memphis’ favourite son and Sun recording artist, Elvis Presley, turning in his grave.

6. Don't Stop Believin' – Journey

In which Steve Perry (and consequently some wet kid from the cast of Glee) claim to have been ‘born and raised in South Detroit.’ South Detroit exists only in Journey's mind. Anybody living there is living in the Detroit River.

7. Africa – Toto

Where the boys from Toto get their stratovolcanoes mixed up with their massifs by claiming that ‘Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.'

8. Katmandu – Bob Seger

Bob Seger wrote this song because he wanted to disappear for a while after dealing with constant touring and record company politics. He chose Katmandu because it represented a place far away where no one will bother you.  He's obviously never walked the streets of Thamel.

9. Mambo Italiano – Rosemary Clooney

A young girl goes back to Naples and tells the locals that 'All you Calabraise-a do the mambo like a crazy' Trouble is, Naples is in Campania. She also recommends that visitors 'try an enchilada with da fish.' Enchiladas are from Mexico, not Italy. Oh dear.

10. Kashmir – Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant wrote the lyrics to this song in 1973 while driving through the Sahara Desert on the way to the National Festival of folklore in Morocco. Kashmir is in the north-west of the Indian Subcontinent. ‘Nuff said.

11. Abergavenny – Marty Wilde

In which Marty Wilde claims the 'market town in Monmouthshire has ‘sunshine forever, lovely weather'. Doesn't sound like Welsh weather to me.


Main image: Palm trees and Atlas Mountains (Shutterstock)

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