San Francisco Is a Lonely Town

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"San Francisco Is a Lonely Town" is a song written in 1969 by Nashville songwriter Ben Peters. Two versions of the song charted in 1969 – one by Ben Peters himself (#46 country, Peters' only charting hit),[1] and the single by Joe Simon, which reached #79 on the US pop charts, #29 on the R&B charts.[2]

Other versions of the song released in 1969 were by Roberta Sherwood (single), Mel Carter (single),[3] Eddy Arnold on his album The Warmth of Eddy,[4] Fred Hughes on his album Baby Boy,[5] Charlie Rich on his album The Fabulous Charlie Rich,[6] and O. C. Smith on his album O. C. Smith at Home.[7]

African-American country artist Linda Martell covered the song on her 1970 album Color Me Country.[8] Vicki Carr put the tune on her 1971 album The Ways to Love a Man.[9] Glen Campbell covered it on his 1976 album Bloodline,[10] and Jimmy "Orion" Ellis on his 1979 album Sunrise.[11]

The most recent version to chart was that of Nick Nixon, a country musician whose cover hit #86 on the country charts in 1979.[12]

The Charlie Rich version was remixed by the French group Nouvelle Vague on the 2007 remix album Late Night Tales: Nouvelle Vague.[13]


Novelist/songwriter Alice Randall reviewed Linda Martell's album Color Me Country in 2010, and wrote, "The second cut, the Ben Peters–penned "San Francisco Is a Lonely Town," is a variation on the Harlan Howard masterpiece "Streets of Baltimore." Here a young couple sets off on a Greyhound for San Francisco, only to discover the distractions of the big city dilute love. Peters, who wrote a signature song for country legend Charley Pride ("Kiss an Angel Good Morning"), captures the spunk and sorrow of the adventure—but more interestingly, Martell's performance captures a bit of San Francisco few have seen—the kids who arrived not in beat-up Volkswagens but on the bus; the kids who weren't white, who were brown; the kids who came not from Eastern cities, but from Southern towns. Linda Martell portrays just such a girl-woman convincingly."[14]