We were baited by an old friend to come up with a list of songs about New York, with the caveat that they could not contain the name of our fair city in the title. However, our list is one of songs about and inspired by NYC—no, this is not some Hollywood bullshit—as well as tunes that evoke what the city is all about.
Off the top of our heads, here are ten, in alphabetical order by artist:
1. Beastie Boys
"So Whatcha Want?"
Check Your Head
Yeah, they can be insufferable at times—not to mention they are the patron saints of today's hipsters—but we have yet to go or host a party where this song does not make a welcome appearance at some point.
Scott Sinclair is a charismatic, literate, good ole boy and ladies man; he’s also a talented songwriter/guitarist who wrote this beautiful ode to his adoptive hometown.
3. Joe Jackson
"Right and Wrong"
A cool tune written during his years as a New Yorker. Bonus point for mentioning NY baseball.
4. Billy Joel
Love him, loathe him or ridicule him, Joel’s done for NYC what Springsteen did for Jersey. He's also written a couple of cool tunes about life in the city. This is one of ‘em. It rocks, too.
5. Marcy Playground
"Sex and Candy"
Always reminds us of the Lower East Side during the ‘90s and one of the few rock songs that oozed carnality during the so-called grunge years.
6. Nada Surf
"Blizzard of '77"
Brooklyn band reminisces about a typical NY winter occurrence and nails it. Sweet.
"Memory Lane (Sittin in Da Park)"
Queens in da house! Love this one…
8. Lou Reed
The man who, in his songs, captured the dark side of the city like no other.
9. Talking Heads
A taste of the city’s Latin vibe courtesy of this quintessential NY band. Also, our unofficial theme song. heh heh.
10. Suzanne Vega
"In the Eye"
Before we moved to Brooklyn in the mid ‘90s Manhattan ruled our world. This song has always sounded to us like late ‘80s, downtown Manhattan at night, particularly that air of possibility and of, hopefully, good things to come.
"New York, New York"
Because he was cocky enough to title it after the Sinatra classic; because it’s a sweet song that will always remind us of the immediate post-Sept. 11th days. But above of all because of a refrain which comes across as one of the most poignant declarations of love ever dedicated to this city we’ve ever heard. “I still love you New York.” Yeah…