Friday, January 03, 2014

Weekend Listomania's Greatest Hits: Special The People's Republic of the Big Apple Edition

[I originally posted this one back in 2008, but I've changed some of the song choices and revised it a little. In any case, it just seemed appropriate now that my fellow Jews and I have elected a Commie mayor in NYC who is going to bring about what all of us really want -- to restore the city to the state of nightmarish dystopia seen in crappy 1970s potboilers like Death Wish. -- S.S.]

Best Post-Beatles Pop/Rock Song/Record About/Referencing New York City and Environs in Title or Lyrics!!!

Okay, no arbitrary rules here, but if you nominate any version of "New York, New York" I will come to your house and kill you AND your family.

Okay, that said, my top of my head Top Seven would be:

7. Dirty Boulevard -- Lou Reed

From the New York City album, obviously. One of Lou's sharpest lyrics, I think, and his cosmic sense of timing on the chorus is a marvel.

6. Incident on 57th Street -- Bruce Springsteen

In this early (1975) radio performance especially. If you don't get Springsteen after listening to this, there's no hope for you.

Honorable mention:

53rd and 3rd -- Ramones

Dee Dee's poignant ode to giving it away on Third Avenue. Well, not exactly for free.

5. King of the New York Streets -- Dion

From his unjustly overlooked Yo Frankie album in 1990, mostly produced by Dave Edmunds. Proof that Dion's a great songwriter, not just one of the greatest rock voices ever, although the last line has always struck me as a copout.

4. Six O'Clock -- The Lovin' Spoonful

I know, I know, "Summer in the City" would be a more obvious pick, but this one just feels so much like NYC when I lived there. Actually, so do a lot of Spoonful songs -- "Rain on the Roof" comes to mind as well.

3. New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones - Fear

The great Lee Ving on vocals, much beloved of John Belushi.

2. Christmas in Hollis -- Run D.M.C.

That's Hollis, Queens, bitches! God, I love this song.

And the number one Big Apple record, it's not even close so don't give me any goddamn attitude, obviously is --

1. New York's a Lonely Town (When You're the Only Surfer Boy Around) -- The Tradewinds

"My woody's outside...covered with snow." That's future Ringo Starr associate Vini Poncia, mastermind of the greatest NYC surf song ever, singing lead.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?


Anonymous said...

NYC (You're a Woman) - Al Kooper
Aretha - Spanish Harlem
Laura Nyro - they're all about New York City, aren't they?

Blue Ash Fan said...

Jesse Malin -- Brooklyn (full band version)

Not to be anal or anything, but Lou's masterpiece, IMHO, was titled merely "New York," not "New York City."

Brooklyn Girl said...

Mamas & Papas - "12:30"
Wallflowers - "6th Avenue Heartache"
Dead - "Truckin'"
Dylan - "Positively 4th Street". "Tom Thumb's Blues"
U2 - "New York"

And don't give me any grief:

Billy Joel - "52nd Street", "New York State of Mind"

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

First off, I feel bad for that guy whose woody is outside and covered with snow. Reminds me of a funny line from Steve Van Zandt in Lilyhammer: something like "it's so cold here that if yer dick froze off you wouldn't know it for 3 days"

Ok...sorry...that was way out of bounds, right?

Back on topic: New York City's Killing Me by Ray La Montagne


Feral said...

George Benson did a innocuous cover of "On Broadway", but I much prefer Neil Young's clanking version from "Mirror Ball".

You know I gotta prod you with some prog and list Genesis, "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" :-)

And one of Elton John's truly lovely songs, "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters". The lyrics seem even more apt today then when they were written.

cthulhu said...

No love for Leonard Cohen's First We Take Manhattan? The final time I saw Warren Zevon live in concert, he did a killer cover of this.

Shriner said...

"New York Groove" -- Ace Frehley

"An Englishman in New York" -- Godley & Creme

"I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City" -- Harry Nilsson

"New York Mining Disaster 1941" -- Bee Gees

And, of course, the theme from "Escape From New York"...

The Kenosha Kid said...


Don't you know the crime rates going up up up up UPPPPPP!!
To live in this town you must be tough tough tough tough TOUGH!!!

pete said...

Visions of Johanna

"The all-night girls whisper of escapades out on the D train"

shawk said...

Visions of Johanna.
Walk on the Wild Side.

Billy B said...

Dangit - TKK neat me to Shattered.

Billy B said...

"beat" me to...

John Fowler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Fowler said...

With the holiday season just behind us, how has

"Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues/Kirsty McColl not been listed yet?

Dave said...

OK, I got beaten to the Pogues/Kirsty McColl, On Broadway, and Positively 4th Street, so some other favorites:

My favorite NY song doesn't specifically reference NYC,but just as all of Laura Nyro seems to be about NY, so are Brill Building songs. Because of the lyric, "Up on the Roof" is it, with honorable mention to "Uptown" as well as "Spanish Harlem" and "On Broadway."

Singer-songwriters have written great songs about NYC. "Positively 4th St." would be #1 on my list, but how about Tom Waits's "Downtown Train," Tim Moore's "Second Ave." (although I prefer Art Garfunkel's cover), Joni Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning" and Laura Nyro's "Gibsom Street."

I've always felt that along with "Billie Jean," "Human Nature" was Michael Jackson's most personal song. And the beginning is about how the city seduces him into questionable activity.

Some rockier songs: "Take a Walk with the Fleshtones," Marshall Crenshaw's "Rockin' Around in NYC," the Ramones' "Rockaway Beach," Steely Dan's "Black Cow," and Daryl Hall's NYC - Gone Gone (here's a cool live version featuring Minus the Bear:

A song I thought about that I have listened to in 20 years that references the Kitty Genovese tragedy: Phil Ochs's "Outside of a Small Circle Friends."

I heartily approve of your #1 pick, Steve. "Mind Excursion," the Tradewinds only album, is super and very consistent (although nothing as good as the title track or (NY's a Lonely Town)." But have you heard "The Girl from Greenwich Village"?

Anonymous said...

Much of Garland Jeffries' best work is very NYCentric. Going to see him in a couple of weeks in Albany. V. excited!

Erik Rupard said...

I am shocked and amazed that you (Steve) did not list that Springsteen masterpiece of masterpieces (ending the best LP side of all time), "New York City Serenade." To paraphrase Nigel, it makes me weep instantly.