Mixtape: 10 Best Architecture Songs


So you’re laid up in bed with the flu like everyone else, with nothing to do but chug Emergen-C, ride the NyQuil train, and gaze glassy-eyed at hours of DVR’ed shows that you’d usually let languish. When even keeping your eyes open starts to hurt, queue up this mixtape and zonk out to the best in architectural jams.

The tracklist, after the jump.

Architecture is great metaphor material. Buildings are ostensibly simple, everyday background constructions, but haunted with significance — memories, emotions, stories. A world in a grain of sand? No, a world in an apartment. Maybe that’s why they have a starring role in so many songs. There are more, we’re sure — add your favorites in the comments.

1. “Government Center” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers The only anthem to bureaucracy — and the architectural altar at which all lesser bureaucratic buildings worship, Boston’s Government Center— we’re aware of. Richman and Co. confirm that, even with “a lot of great desks and chairs,” the best way to animate a space is with a dance party.

2. “Don’t Worry About the Government” by the Talking Heads Architecture as savior: “My building has every convenience, it’s gonna make life easy for me.” If the Bauhaus had a theme song, it’d be this one.

3. “Brick House” by the Commodores Yes, architecture can be sexy. Brick houses might not really be the hottest buildings out there, but we admit it’s hard to rhyme anything with Guggenheim.

4. “Who Do You Love?” by Bo Diddley That’s one creepy house.

5. “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles A song about hipster apartments, falling in love, and bad seating arrangements (hasn’t she heard of Ikea?).

6. “White Room” by Cream A song about loneliness in a crowd and loneliness alone — and, OK, maybe cocaine? — this one moves between the train station and Clapton’s empty apartment.

7. “Little Room” by the White Stripes The room in question is definitely a modernist affair. White walls, surely, with maybe a red-trimmed window in the corner. The song’s about how any room can be a prison, and how the grass isn’t always greener, real-estate-wise, no matter what Craigslist says.

8. “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young A love song to suburban domesticity. Bo-ring, but that’s the point.

9. “Mansion on the Hill” by Hank Williams Architectural envy. Also a metaphor for McMansion soullessness, before it really existed.

10. “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash The problem with architecture altogether: It doesn’t change, and when it’s bad, you’re stuck inside like Jonah. Outside on the train, “Those people keep a-movin’, and that’s what tortures me.”