Lake Tahoe.
Cold mountain water. Don't ever swim there.
Just stand on the edge and look in there.
And you might see a woman down there.
Lake Tahoe by Kate Bush

Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake located along the border between California and Nevada in the US. James Guthrie, who mastered Bush’s LP 50 Words For Snow, has a mastering studio at South Lake Tahoe.

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The crawfish were screaming, the waves danced in time
My friends went in deeper, the water, it climbed
I watched in terror, the lake opened wide
And horribly roaring, it pulled them inside
That's how it happened, why would I lie?
There were no bodies, I've got none to hide
I'm just a boy, lost his friends in the rain
Any more questions, just go and ask Lake Pontchartrain
Lake Pontchartrain by Ludo

A man is with his friends at Lake Pontchartrain, a brackish estuary located in southeastern Louisiana (it’s not technically a lake).

Anyway, the man and his friends eat the local crawfish when suddenly are drawn to the lake where they are devoured by the lake itself— or were they murdered?

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Even the old folks never knew
Why they call it like they do
I was wondering since the age of two
Down on Copperline
Copperline by James Taylor

Copperline is an area near Chapel Hill in North Carolina where James Taylor grew up—the song serves as is a sentimental retrospective back of his formative years.

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You are not me, Arlandria, Arlandria
You and what army, Arlandria, Arlandria?
Oh, God you gotta make it stop
Arlandria by Foo Fighters

After Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s parents split up, the young Grohl grew up living with his mother in Northern Virginia and went to high school in Alexandria. Arlandria is a neighborhood located in the Northeastern portion of Alexandria.

As evidenced by the lyrics of the chorus, it would appear Grohl desperately wanted to leave his hometown, but after his time in Seattle and L.A., Grohl moved back there— perhaps he enjoyed the ease of Virginia more than the Epicurean lifestyle he’d been living on the West Coast. He’s even mentioned Arlandria while making an album in his Virginia home.

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Why so unforgiving and why so cold?
Been a long time crossing bridge of sighs
Bridge of Sighs by Robin Trower

The “Bridge of Sighs” is the eminent Ponte de Sospiri bridge in Venice. The nickname “Bridge of Sighs” was by Lord Byron in the 19th century, when he publicized the impression that the bridge’s name was inspired by the sighs of condemned prisoners as they were led through it to the executioner.

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I was born on the Dixie Highway, red clay and Georgia pines
I was raised on the Dixie Highway, no sweeter place you’ll ever find.
Dixie Highway by Alan Jackson

Jackson explained: “There’s this highway that’s been in existence for forever now — it’s called the Dixie Highway and it runs from north of Michigan all the way down to South Florida, and I wrote a song about it that’s on the album. I grew up on Highway 34 outside of Newnan, Georgia, and that’s where we came up with Thirty Miles West. I think we were about thirty miles west of the official part of the Dixie Highway that runs through Georgia.”

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Don’t be the hand that takes
Lulls my forest serenade
Don’t be the hand that pulls
Different aims from different bows
Forest Serenade by The Joy Formidable

The “forest” referred to here is the woods of Sebago Lake State Park in Maine— a sanctuary for those looking to clear their mind.

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Elvaston Place
A run-down basement in South Ken
Hiding your face
Behind the railings in the rain
Elvaston Place by Al Stewart

Al Stewart lived at Elvaston Place in South West London with his girlfriend Mandi, and they shared an open relationship— something that bothered Stewart quite a bit at the the time. Their relationship lasted a couple years, though, and this love song is about her.

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This time I'm gonna get it right,
I'm gonna paint my face like the Guggenheim.
Guggenheim by The Ting Tings

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a beloved art museum located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City.

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Saw the migrants smoke in the old orange grove
And the red rocket blaze over Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral by Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band

Cape Canaveral in Brevard County, FL is famous for its rocket launch station. Oberst told MTV News: “That song is, I guess, more of nostalgia of watching rocket launches on TV, that kind of thing. I’ve never been to a rocket launch, unfortunately. I’d like to see one though.”

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October 15th, 2013

Also the allusion to migrants in Orange Groves refers to another critical part of Florida beyond space launches: citrus agriculture largely dependent on undocumented workers. Oberst juxtaposes high technology and working class poverty existing in the same place.

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