1. Gram Parsons, “Ooh Las Vegas” (1973) He regards Vegas as most songwriters have: as a “crystal city” where “poor boys” get wrecked. But the breezy twang suggests he can’t wait to get wrecked here again.
2. Cocteau Twins, “Heaven or Las Vegas” (1990) Elizabeth Fraser seems to be comparing Vegas to heaven, hell or something else in a rhapsody that glows like that “famous street” in the chorus.
3. Drive Like Jehu, “Bullet Train to Vegas” (1992) This stampeding, screeching escapee can’t wait to get to town … and then get the hell out, after shenanigans of a quasi-legal nature transpire.
4. Shamir, “Vegas” (2015) This one has something others don’t—local perspective. “The city’s alright/at least at night,” Shamir murmurs, looking askance at diversions not meant for him.
5. Big Thief, “Vegas” (2016) “Holed up in Vegas for only one week,” two lost souls connect—and uncover key truths about each other—in this wistful tale by singer/songwriter Adrianne Lenker.