New York looms large in the American imagination, especially for creative types. That’s where it all happens: The Chelsea Hotel, The Cafe Wha?, SoHo, Greenwich Village. Brooklyn kids. Warriors, come out to play….
Here are a few lesser known songs about the land of Carlos Danger:
“Back in the New York Groove,” Hello. Yeah, I know. You thought this was an Ace Frehley song, and he certainly deserves credit for making it a hit, but here’s Hello’s original take on the Russ Ballard classic. Regardless of who recorded it, Bo Diddley deserved royalties for that beat.
“New York’s Alright if You Like Saxophones,” Fear. I’d never forgive myself if I left off this cut. If you don’t own Fear: The Record you need to remedy that immediately.
“New York Girl,” Miles Davis. From another must-have album, 1972’s On the Corner. If you like your Miles funky, this is the one you want.
“New York Telephone Conversation,” Lou Reed. While we’re on the topic of must-have albums from 1972, make sure you have a copy of Transformer in your stacks. First person to correctly identify the producer of this album does not have to listen to Lulu, the Lou Reed/Metallica collaboration.
“New York Telephone,” Unknown. I actually have this on a Jane’s Addiction bootleg, and I’ve always wondered what the hell it was doing there. Filler, I guess. Anyway, this was my outgoing answering machine message for a long time.
“New York,” Sex Pistols. Great footage. Even Sid appears to be alive, though it’s hard to tell.
“New York City,” T. Rex. By 1975’s Futuristic Dragon the critics were off the T. Rex bandwagon; in fact, pretty much everybody was. I’m not going to say it’s my favorite T. Rex album, but it has some good tracks. This one is pretty good, though I don’t know why Jack White is singing in this clip.
“Leaving New York,” R.E.M. And speaking of reviled albums, you won’t find many fans of R.E.M.’s Around the Sun, but come on — this is a cool song.
“New York’s Not My Home,” Jim Croce. This seems like a good one to go out with. Jim Croce was a pretty important figure in my childhood. His was the first celebrity death that I remember, likely because he died in an airplane crash. Airplanes figured heavily into my adolescence, so that bit of news hit home. There was a period of time when I fell asleep each night to my Jim Croce album. I have no idea how I missed that in the WIM story; actually, I do. I didn’t remember that bit of music trivia until this very moment, and now it’s all I can think about.
From here I think I’ll leave it up to you. How many songs can you name in a New York minute? I’m listening.