New York I Love You
I have been working on this mix for as long as I have been writing for Popten. It was at one point over 60 songs, and has morphed its way through at least 7 different versions. I found it so hard to edit down songs about New York City, especially when my only self-imposed criteria was that the city needed to be central to the story of the song, not just a passing mention. But after Chris posted a New York-centric article on public art last week, I figured I should use it as inspiration and finally get off my ass and finish this thing.
In end I did away with the songs that everyone could think of on their own — Lou Reed’s Take A Walk On The Wild Side — and some that were just too down on the city I’ve called my own for the past 4.5 years , like Jim Croce’s New York’s Not My Home. I then ordered them to tell a story:
The final twenty songs start in Brooklyn and Coney Island, and then head up through neighborhoods all over Manhattan. They take a detour through our lovely transit system, get down on being here, but then get right back up.
Amidst the track listing I’ve given you a one sentence wrap-up of why the song fits the mix, and a key lyric. If it exists, I’ve included the official video as well. And if you scroll alllll the way to the bottom, you can stream the whole thing.
The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
Inspired by a gig at Galapagos in Brooklyn.
Ahh Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in.
Are you aware the shape I’m in?
My hands they shake, my head it spins.
Ahh Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in.
Matt Pond PA – Brooklyn Stars
About sneaking out of a one night stand.
These Brooklyn stars are small and strange
I’m under roads
They’re going home
Next to statues of saints of snow
Phosphorescent – The Mermaid Parade
Grappling with the end of a marriage at the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island.
In New York this morning; it was 8 am LA time,
and I could be there by this evening
said the girl on the airline line.
So I bought that ticket, and I got in that cab,
oh but I didn’t make it babe
to the airport like that.
No I wound up walking
out by the ocean today
and there were naked women
dancing in the Mermaid Parade.
Good Old War – Coney Island
Break up with the girl, but not the city.
I’m going to Coney Island have myself a dog
And reminisce why I still hate it here
It’s all these people with their cotton candy eyes
It’s so sweet, now put the train in gear
But I can’t let this go I’m on my way
You can only hold my diamond ring
But I’ll go crawling back to the city I love
Cause it’s already taken everything
Counting Crows – Chelsea
Break up with the girl, break up with the city.
I never go to New York City these days
Something about the buildings in Chelsea just kills me
Maybe in a month or two,
Maybe when things are different for me,
Maybe when things are different for you,
You know all of this shit, just sticks in my head
Ryan Adams – New York New York
The video was filmed on September 7, 2001, and has iconic backdrops of the city, including the towers.
I remember Christmas in the blistering cold
In a church on the Upper West Side
Babe, I stood there singing, I was holding your arm
You were holding my trust like a child
Found a lot of trouble out on Avenue B
But I tried to keep the overhead low
Farewell to the city and the love of my life
At least we left before we had to go
Daniel Merriweather – For Your Money
“For Your Money is about me trying to get by in New York – and, I suppose, New York itself trying to get by. It’s a post-9/11 ode to re-evaluating our priorities and steering away from golden calf worship.”
New York, she sits and cries
She’s had her moment of glory
Stands up, then she took the dive
From the sixty first story
Now I don’t know how it evens out
Once I saw the love was never in her eyes
But she goes on, on, she goes on
She goes on
Josh Ritter – The Curse
A cursed mummy and a curator at The Met have a love affair; Ritter’s drummer Liam Hurley created the marionettes in the video.
In New York he is laid in a glass-covered case
He pretends he is dead, people crowd round to see him
But each night she comes round, and the two wander down
The halls of the tomb that she calls a museum
Joe Purdy – The City
Written after his first trip to NYC.
Get off the boat and board a plane to JFK and I
Haven’t slept in a week
But it don’t seem to matter to the subway squeakers squeaking at my feet
Bright Eyes – Lua
A coke and booze-filled evening and the morning aftermath.
I know that it is freezing, but I think we have to walk
I keep waving at the taxis, they keep turning their lights off
But Julie knows a party at some actor’s West side loft
Supplies are endless in the evening by the morning they’ll be gone
Death Cab For Cutie – Marching Bands of Manhattan
There is comfort in sorrow.
If I could open my arms
And span the length of the isle of Manhattan
I’d bring it to where you are
Making a lake of the East River and Hudson
And if I could open my mouth
Wide enough for a marching band to march out
They would make your name sing
And bend through alleys and bounce off all the buildings
Luna – Going Home
Reflection and regret.
The Chrysler Building was talking to the Empire State
The Twin Towers were talking to each other
Saying all is forgiven
I love you still
And we’re home, home
The Pogues ft. Kirsty McColl – Fairytale of New York
A Christmas song.
They’ve got cars big as bars
They’ve got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It’s no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me
Interpol – NYC
Supporting the city that has supported you.
The subway is a porno
Pavements they are a mess
I know you’ve supported me for a long time
Somehow I’m not impressed
But New York cares (got to be some more change in my life)
Le Tigre – My My Metrocard
Cruising around the city with a train pass.
My My Metrocard
Think I’ll go a little but then I go far
Next stop Atlantic Avenue
Next stop Christopher Street
Next stop Transfer to the
Next stop A, C, or E
Besnard Lakes – On Bedford and Grand
You wouldn’t believe the things that we saw
When we took the L-train
Mike Doughty – Thank You Lord For Sending Me The F-Train
Have you ever had to wait for the F Train? Yeah.
And I will drift back to the slope,
Some face unlit, there, stuck into the incline,
Where I will sleep off all the noise
The soot accumulated all my trials
I thank you Lord almighty up above
Just for sending out the F train to me
LCD Soundsystem – New York I Love You But You’re Bringing But Down
Maybe the best song about being disappointed in a city every written; also the last song they sang at their last show.
New York, you’re perfect, don’t please don’t change a thing
Your mild billionaire mayor’s now convinced he’s a king
So the boring collect – I mean all disrespect
In the neighborhood bars I’d once dreamt I would drink
Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs – New York City’s Killing Me
He’d rather be in Nashville; but we all feel that way sometimes just for a moment, right?
I was just kickin’ along the sidewalk
No one looks you in the eyes
No one asks you how you’re doin’
Don’t seem to care if you live or if you die
Just got to get me somewhere
Somewhere that I can feel free
Gotta get out of New York City, boy
New York City’s killin’ me
Dark Dark Dark – New York Song
Because really, in the end, where else would you rather be?
They said being here is better than wishing we’d stayed
Yes, being here is seeming to be the way
Oh being here is better than wishing we had stayed…
Congrats on getting through to the bottom! Now click below to listen, and be sure to let me know if the comments how audacious it was of me to leave _____ off my list. Enjoy!