With a long tradition of innovative classical music, from Ferenc Liszt (Franz Liszt), to Béla Bartók, through to modern times with international DJs like Yonderboy, Budapest has always had an inspiring music scene, be it at the State Opera House or A-38, the music venue routinely voted best club in Europe. But what do musicians who travel through the city make of it? Given how often Budapest is cited in song, they must also find it an inspiring place to visit and memorialize. Here are just a few of the songs Budapest gets cited in by major players.
Paul McCartney: “Monkberry Moon Delight”:
But I leave my pyjamas to Billy Budapest
And I don't get the gist of your letter
This song, from way back in in 1971 off Paul McCartney and Wings’ album Ram, was probably not the result of the former Beatle wandering the streets of the Hungarian capital in his pj’s. Times were different under the former Socialist regime, and bands like Wings simply weren’t encouraged to come to Hungary and spread messages of rebellion through rock. The singer would make up for lost time by playing Budapest in both 2003 and 2017 to sold out audiences. Whether McCartney played “Monkberry Moon Delight” is lost to the ages, but perhaps his visits will inspire another Budapest themed lyric with more direct relevance.
Jethro Tull: “Budapest”
Hot night in Budapest.You could cut the heat,
peel it back with the wrong side of a knife.
It’s unclear if this ode to a Hungarian beauty is about a roadie or groupie, but she sure made an impression on the band. Apparently she was talented at middle distance running, chilling beer, sandwich making, and generally helping out around back stage when Tull band toured here. Exactly which tour the experience that inspired the song this is from we can’t say, but Jethro Tull does tend to come to Budapest frequently, the last time for their fifty year anniversary. Every musician needs a muse, and apparently Ian Anderson, lead singer, found one in Budapest.
George Ezra: “Budapest”
My house in Budapest,
My, my hidden treasure chest,
Easily the biggest hit on the list, Ezra’s thumping song “Budapest” set teenage fans’ hearts throbbing across the world when it came out in 2014. If the song at all reflects the city, it’s down to its soulfulness and romantic vibes, both of which the actual Budapest has in spades. Ezra was gracious enough to play “Budapest” live in Budapest at the 2017 Sziget Festival. As wonderful as all this sounds, in reality Ezra had actually never been to Budapest before writing the song that shares its name. In fact, he was in Malmo, Sweden, when he penned the lyrics, and understandably resisted calling it “Malmo,” which just doesn’t have the same ring.
Other songs that mention Budapest include: Necro’s “You’re Dead,” Pain of Salvation’s “Beyond the Pale,” The Lonely Island’s “Meet the Crew,” and Ignite’s “Taken Away.”
Who will pen the next huge Budapest song after stopping in this highly musical city? Keep an ear to the sound-waves and listen for those three magical consonants: Bud-a-Pest that roll so easily off the tongue and sound so great to the ear.
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