For Friday: Songs About New York

May 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

New York City - Statue of Liberty

Image Source: Flickr, Kali Koldwater

This Friday, it’s music.  Specifically, songs about New York.  Or at least those referencing New York in a heartfelt way.

It was “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” that got me started.  I must have listened to Elton John’s ode to the Big Apple – a lot – as it appeared, somewhat unexpectedly, on my Top 25 Most Played playlist this past week.  I began to think of the other songs that I love and went in search of those that I had possibly forgotten about. Little did I know, at least according to Wikipedia, there are hundreds.  So, down I went, into the YouTube rabbit hole.  And I could have stayed there a very, very long time.  Alas, life ad work called.

Thus, here is the extremely edited list of my favs.  What are yours?

1. The aforementioned “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” by Elton John.  The song was originally released in 1972 on Sir Elton’s album Honky Chateau.  You can watch the YouTube video of his performance of “Mona Lisas” during the debut concert for the album held in London in 1972.  Or you can leap forward 35 years – to 2007 – and to New York.  Elton John’s voice is a little raspier and doesn’t have the range it once did, but his singing it at Madison Square Garden with images of New York City scenes projected on the screen behind him, more than makes up for it, as does his obvious affection for the city about which he is singing.  And, I love the mandolin.  Gets me every time.

2. “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel.  Billy Joel performed “New York State of Mind” at the Tokyo Dome in 2006 – fantastic.  And the saxophone sings.

3. “Empire State of Mind” by Jay Z, featuring Alicia Keys.  The duo performed at the American Music Awards (AMA) in 2009.  Our new anthem.

4. “New York Minute” by Don Henley.  Performed live at the Fair Park Music Hall in Dallas, Texas.  Now here’s a man whose voice, if ravaged by time, has only been made better.

5. “Angel of Harlem” by U2.  Live from Slane Castle in Ireland, 2008.  Classic Bono performance.

6. “8th Avenue Shuffle” by The Doobie Brothers.  No video of this one – just a montage of images referencing the band themselves and the city about which they are singing.

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