10 Arctic Monkeys lyrics that mention real places
6 January 2024, 17:00
Your definitive guide to Alex Turner’s world - are they all real, or a figment of the singer's imagination?
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“You're not from New York City, you're from Rotherham.”
Arctic Monkeys - Fake Tales Of San Francisco (Official Video)
In Fake Tales Of San Francisco, Turner slaps down the pretentious band playing in his local bar by reminding them they’re from a Yorkshire town, just North East of Sheffield.
“I said "It's High Green, mate / Via Hillsborough, please.”
Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured
Taxi business from Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured. Alex gets a cab back to his house in North Sheffield, stopping off in the Hillsborough district along the way. How much will that cost, mate?
“From The Ritz To The Rubble”
From The Ritz To The Rubble
This tale of club bouncers and their ways would at first appear to be about Manchester’s legendary venue The Ritz, but let’s not forget about The Ritz Ballroom in Brighouse, West Yorkshire. Once a Northern Soul hangout, the venue had to change its name when London’s Ritz threatened legal action, boo. It’s now known as Venue 73.
“I know you've got the moves / ‘Cause I'm from High Green”
All My Own Stunts
In All My Own Stunts, Alex Turner refers to the North Sheffield suburb where he grew up again.
“He's ridden the riddle, he'll do it again / He's going back to the Wirral where it all began.”
Little Illusion Machine (Wirral Riddler)
Little Illusion Machine (Wirral Riddler) is the b-side to The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala and is credited to Miles Kane and The Death Ramps. Miles, of course, is the Wirral Riddler in question, having been born “over the water” from Liverpool, in the Cheshire area.
“I’m going back to 505 / If it's a seven hour flight or a forty-five minute drive…”
As we’ve previously discussed here on Radio X, 505 is the number of a mysterious hotel room where Alex Turner holed up with his then-girlfriend Johanna Bennett after the fame and the fuss of the first Arctic Monkeys album. The track appeared as the final song on the band’s second LP Favourite Worst Nightmare.
“Tranquilty Base Hotel And Casino, Mark speaking…”
Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (Official Video)
It gave name to the title of Arctic Monkeys’ sixth album, but Tranquility Base is an actual place - it’s the location on the moon where Apollo 11 touched down on 20 July 1969 and humans walked on another planet for the first time. A good location for a hotel, obviously.
“Around Clavius, it's all getting gentrified.”
As mentioned in Four Out Of Five, Clavius is a crater on the moon and mentioned in a scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The character Dr Heywood Floyd makes a trip to Clavius Base, where a mysterious black monolith has been found.
“Mr. Bridge and Tunnel on the Starlight Express”
Arctic Monkeys - Four Out Of Five (Official Video)
The “Bridge And Tunnel Crowd” refers to residents of New York who travelled to Manhattan to work and party (via road and rail bridges and tunnels) from the other four boroughs of the city: Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island. Starlight Express is a roller-skating musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. They both get a mention in Four Out Of Five.
"Why not rewind to Rawborough Snooker Club?"
Arctic Monkeys - Hello You (Official Audio)
The song Hello You on the latest album The Car mentions such a leisure establishment. Well, it's not a real location to be perfectly honest... but it's not a place that Alex Turner has made up, either.
He told Radio X's John Kennedy in October 2022: "There's a film, set in a place and that's the name. I guess we've taken the name of the place and put two things together. It's called Tread Softly Stranger. It's right old. It's something that none of us have watched!
"There's connection with my granddad to that film, he ended up getting some work when that film was shooting, close to where he was living. He was driving lorries. I think I've mentioned it in another song."
Tread Softly Stranger is a 1958 crime drama filmed in Rotherham and starring Britain's own blonde bombshell Diana Dors and George "Inspector Wexford" Baker.