Top 10 classic Frisco tunes

I’m excluding old music hall / movie songs like “Hello, Frisco” and “O Susanna” (I’m allowing old blues and country tunes though). I’m also excluding contemporary songs like all the hip hop and rap that have “Frisco” in the lyrics.

10. Bob Dylan, “Roving Gambler”

I gambled up in Washington, gambled over in Spain
I’m on my way to Frisco town
to knock down my last game

9. Merle Haggard, “Here in Frisco”

They say it’s raining in Chicago and it’s cold and clear in Denver
Been windy all night long here in Frisco
Trolley cars are clinging the big Bay Town’s swinging
And I’m still all alone here in Frisco

8. Frank Zappa, “Who Needs the Peace Corps?”

What’s there to live for?
Who needs the Peace Corps?
Think I’ll just drop out
I’ll go to Frisco

7. The Youngbloods, “Grizzly Bear”

I used to love to watch her dance that Grizzly Bear
I guess she’s gone to Frisco to dance it there

6. Cab Calloway, “Frisco Flo”

Frisco Flo was just as sharp as a tack;
Frisco Flo, for a fellow would give the shirt right off of her back.

5. Memphis Minne, “Frisco Town”

You can toot your whistle, you can ring your bell
But I know you been wanting it by the way you smell
I’m on my way to Frisco town

4. Jesse Fuller, “San Francisco Bay Blues”

I got the blues when my baby left me
down by the Frisco bay

3. Chuck Berry, “Sweet Little Sixteen”

They’re really rockin in Boston
In Pittsburgh, P. A.
Deep in the heart of Texas
And ’round the Frisco bay

2. Johnny Cash, “Give My Love to Rose”

He said they let me out of prison down in Frisco
For ten long years I’ve paid for what I’ve done
I was trying to get back to Louisiana
To see my Rose and get to know my son

and the top classic Frisco tune, yes, that old chestnut

1. Otis Redding, “Dock of the Bay”

I left my home in Georgia
and headed for the Frisco bay

So what songs am I forgetting?


Honorable mention: Waylon Jennings, “Frisco Depot” (Frisco’s a mile long away / You can afford to fly / But it might as well be the moon, / Lord, when you’re as broke as I); George Strait, “Give It Away” (Like that picture from our honeymoon, / That night in Frisco Bay: / She said: “Give it away.” / Well, I can’t give it away); Arthur “Big Boy” Cruddup, “Mean Ol’ Frisco” (Well, that mean old Frisco, and that low down Santa Fe / Well it carried my baby away, and it’s blown right back on me); Hoyt Axton, “I Aint Got a Worry” (Well I ain’t got a worry, you know I ain’t got a care. / ’m going back to Frisco, all my friends are there); Grateful Dead, “Casey Jones” (He turned to his fireman and this is what he said / “Boy, we’re going to reach Frisco, but we’ll all be dead”).


The toughest guys on the old SF waterfront, neither rubes nor tourists, called it Frisco, and no effete journalist would have tried to correct them. — Herb Caen


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  1. You really shouldn’t encourage people to call it “Frisco.” The old- timers that Herb Caen wrote about are long gone and they are the only ones who had the right.

  2. johncash

    re: the Johnny Cash song “Give my love to Rose” — the lyrics go:
    “He said they let me out of prison down in Frisco
    For ten long years I’ve paid for what I’ve done
    I was trying to get back to Louisiana
    To see my Rose and get to know my son”

    Being from this part of the country, I always thought that “down” (South) in Frisco meant Frisco City, AL, not San Francisco. There is a prison in Frisco City and it is also the famous home of Truman Capote. Either way — great song.

  3. Hmmm, I have to admit that hadn’t occurred to me. (We have Alcatraz Prison here, and I assumed that’s what the song referred to.)