San Francisco Song

I grew up in Oakland, California, across the bay from San Francisco. Starting early in my childhood, I learned how to take the train across the Bay Bridge into “the city,” as we called it. I gloried in Market Street, Chinatown, the Golden Gate, the beaches, the wild Pacific Ocean too dangerous for swimming.

My regular trips to San Francisco continued until I graduated from college at the University of California, Berkeley, and joined the army. I learned early on that calling the city “Frisco” infuriated the natives and that its closest rival city, Los Angeles where I was born, was an inferior town—we rarely referred to it by name, instead calling it Tinseltown or La-La Land.

So starting as a teenager, I learned to love “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” the signature song from the legendary Tony Bennett. It was written in Brooklyn, New York, in 1954. The song depicted two amateur writers from the West Coast who moved to New York but yearned to return to their hometown of San Francisco. The song still brings a lump to my throat. Here are the lyrics:

The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly grey

The glory that was Rome is of another day

I’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan

I’m going home to my city by the Bay

I left my heart in San Francisco

High on a hill, it calls to me

To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars

The morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care

My love waits there in San Francisco

Above the blue and windy sea

When I come home to you, San Francisco

Your golden sun will shine for me

When I come home to you, San Francisco

Your golden sun will shine for me

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