JamBase List | 10 Great Songs About Going Home

Earlier today basketball great LeBron James penned penned a poignant letter explaining the reasons why he will return home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers starting next season. Anyone who has a home where they feel loved or feel love for can understand the desire to go home.

The yearning for home has been at the core of many great songs over the years. For this installment of The JamBase List we look at ten of our favorite tunes about the sense of safety and security that "home" provides.

1. "Sing Me Back Home" - Merle Haggard: This death-row tale was written in the late ’60s. As you see in the video, Merle used to play this song at a quick tempo, while the Grateful Dead slowed it down to a funeral dirge in their version. We favor the Dead’s version — nobody was better at emoting that sad soulful feeling like Jerry Garcia.

“Sing me back home with a song I used to hear”

2. "Can’t Find My Way Home" - Blind Faith: Perhaps short-lived supergroup Blind Faith’s biggest gift to the world is one of the best song ever written about home. Pre MTV Unplugged Eric Clapton wasn't exactly known for his acoustic work. But on the version of "Can’t Find May Way Home from Blind Faith’s eponymous album, Clapton delivers one of the most beautiful performances of his career. To us, Can’t Find My Way Home is about being caught up in the excesses of life so much so that you lose vision of what’s important.

“And I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home”

3. "Homeward Bound" – Simon and Garfunkel: Paul Simon was waiting for a train in the middle of a European tour when he penned his ode to home. Homeward Bound has the most clear and vivid lyrics of any song on this list. All the writer wants to do is go home “where the music’s playing” and where his girl “lies silently waiting for” him. Instead he is stuck “on a tour of one night stands” smoking cigarettes and reading magazines.

“Homeward Bound…I wish I was”

4. "Mama I’m Coming Home" – Ozzy Osbourne: Ozzy Osbourne would always finish conversations from the road with his wife Sharon by saying “Mama I’m coming home.” Oz’s co-writer for 1991′s No More Tears, Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, picked up on that phrase and created lyrics around it. Zakk Wylde and Ozzy combined to write the melody on piano, and "Mama I’m Coming Home" was born.

Life on the road moving from city to city without your family is painful, and that emotion comes through in the lyrics. Ozzy just can’t take the pain anymore as he sings “Hurts so bad, it’s been so long.” At the time Ozzy had just finished battling multiple addictions. We would imagine facing your demons at home is tough but it must be insane trying to stay sober on the road. Who would have thought the guy who gave us "Paranoid" and "Suicide Solution" would create such a tender song? Interestingly, "Mama I’m Coming Home" is Ozzy’s only solo top 40 US hit.

“Here I come, but I ain’t the same”

5. "Sloop John B" – The Beach Boys: Sloop John B is a tale of being stuck on a sinking ship. Sometimes we head out on trips or adventures with the best of intentions only to find that things don’t work out as planned. We think we can all relate to the lyric “This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on…I wanna go home.” Kinda like Coventry for Phish fans.

The Beach Boys took a traditional West Indies tune called "John B Sails" and changed the lyrics around a bit to come away with one of the best records of all-time. Brian Wilson and his mates used every studio tool available to them at the time to create the symphonic masterpiece that is "Sloop John B." We think perhaps “Crazy” Brian Wilson came to find and re-work "John B Sails" due to his longing to stop writing, touring, and promoting his music every day of his life. He wanted to return “home” so much so that he spent a few years of his life in bed.

“Why don’t you let me go home”

6. "New York City" - moe.: New York City may not be home to everyone, but it is home to our editorial headquarters, so this song has personal meaning to us. moe. bassist Rob Derhak nailed all the quintessential NYC moments a resident experiences such as “a cab ride at 5 AM,” “the freaks on St. Marks Place” and the gorgeous Manhattan goddesses with their “Levis and curls.”

I’m pretty sure Derhak has never lived in NYC so it is amazing he was able to illustrate an experience so similar to ours. If you haven’t taken “an early morning ride on the subway” or experienced the roller skaters zooming by during a “summer Sunday” in Central Park, you are really missing out.

“New York City I’m coming home again”

7. "Rockin’ Chair" – The Band: Robbie Robertson, if you believe the credits, wrote this tale of growing old. Robertson was fascinated by the elderly and has said “Most people are knocked out by younger people. I’m knocked out by older people. Just look at their eyes. Hear them talk. They’re not joking. They’ve seen things you’ll never see.” Levon Helm hit the nail on the head when he described the depth of the lyrics: “We wanted to make one that you didn’t really get until the second time you played it.”

"Rockin’ Chair’s" lyrics can be taken literally as a tale of two old sailor friends yearning to go home to “old Virginny,” or it could be taken as a metaphor of being lost. "Rockin’ Chair" is one of those rare songs that leaves us thinking the lyrics mean something different each time we listen. The one thing that is clear is that the singer wants to go home.

“Oh to be home again”

8. "Memories of Home" – Umphrey’s McGee: Jake Cinninger’s ode to the woods of Niles, Michigan instantly provokes images in the listener’s mind of the safety and warmth of home. Every lyric attacks the senses be it “scent of pine” or “fields of gold.” Unlike many of the other songs featured in the column, this song doesn’t seem to speak of a longing of home, rather an appreciation of where the author came from.

Jake, like Bruce Springsteen will always be attached to his hometown. “As long as I live, I’ll remember my town.” We’ve never been to Niles, but after listening to "Memories of Home" we kinda want to check it out.

“As fall returns, the presence of home is real to me, and where I belong”

Memories Of Home by Umphreys Mcgee on Grooveshark

9. "Home Again" - The Disco Biscuits: This is the only song on the list whose lyrics speak of a home that isn’t familar to the main character in the song. “Never had a home like this” and “always knew my home was in paradise” give the impression that home is a new place. The brief lyrics don’t speak directly of a yearning for the old home place that the title implies. But the Biscuits often play this tune in Philly or just before they get to Philly. The version of "Home Again" on Trance Fusion Radio 1 begins with Marc Brownstein stating “at the risk of being emotional the Biscuits are coming back to Philly guys. We’re coming home.”

“Never had a home like this”

10. "Our House" – CSNY: Graham Nash’s "Our House" is one of the more positive entries on this list. The author speaks of how hard life used to be before he met his muse. “Now everything is easier” with the love of his woman, who in this case was Joni Mitchell. This song seems to be a Utopian vision, as Nash and Mitchell never had “two kids in the yard” of their own. Home is once again shown as a place of safety and security that leads to a sense of happiness.

“Our house...is a very very very fine house”

[Published on: 7/11/14]

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