Best Songs About NYC

Jay Z and Alicia Keys in thier new video for 'Empire State of Mind'

Jay Z and Alicia Keys in thier new video for 'Empire State of Mind'

Ever since “Empire State Of Mind” by Jay Z and Alicia Keys has come out, I haven’t stopped hearing all the different songs about NYC blaring from everywhere! New York City Magazine has put together a list of their top 40 here, so check it out.

Below is a list of their top 20 songs. Do you agree or disagree? Is there anything you would add to the list?

20. Theme from “Car 54 Where Are You.” “Traffic’s backed up to Jackson Heights . . . Khrushchev’s due at Idlewild . . .” Close behind: theme from The Jeffersons: “Movin’ on up . . . to a deluxe apartment in the sky . . .”

19. “Uptown”— the Crystals. Phil Spector protest tune. “Downtown, where everyone’s his boss, he’s a little man . . . uptown, where folks don’t have to pay much rent . . . then he’s tall, he don’t crawl.”

18. “Summer in the City”— Lovin’ Spoonful. “Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting burnt and gritty.”

17. “Pedro Navaja”— Ruben Blades. Spectacular N.Y. salsa as Son of Sam narrative.

16. “Sidewalks of New York”— Mel Tormé, others. “East Side, West Side . . . me and Mamie O’Rourke . . .” Semi-disguised Irish drinking song.

15. “Boy From New York City”— AdLibs. Ooo-ah, ooo-ah, cool, cool kitty, tell us about the boy from New York City.” Black street-corner doo-wop/R&B.

14. “The Wanderer”— Dion and the Belmonts. Italian street-corner doo-wop/R&B. Belmonts named after Belmont Ave., Bronx.

13. “Puttin’ on the Ritz”— Irving Berlin. Can be read as subversive commentary on white-spats Park Avenue, where their “noses are in the air.”

12. “NY State of Mind” — Nas. “I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind.” New-school rap, bustin’ caps all over town. Gang Starr’s “New York Strait Talk” (“NY vibe gets your whole body tense . . .”); “City Is Mine,” Jay-Z (“Don’t worry about Brooklyn . . . got her a Chinese manicure hair done by Dominicans”).

11. “A Letter to the New York Post” (“Worst piece of paper on the East Coast”)—Public Enemy. Old-school rap, N.Y. nationalism. “Christmas in Hollis,” Run-DMC; “No Sleep ’Till Brooklyn,” Beastie Boys; and Grandmaster Flash’s “New York, New York” and all-time champion “The Message.”

10. “Scrapple From the Apple”— Charlie Parker. “Jumpin With Symphony Sid,” down at the Royal Roost.

9. “Manhattan”— Rodgers and Hart. “The great big city’s a wondrous toy, just made for a girl and boy.” True.

8. “Up on the Roof”— Ben E. King/the Drifters. “If this world starts getting you down . . .” The promise of freedom from despair, upstairs.

7. “Give My Regards to Broadway”— George M. Cohan. And all those other songs about that street: “Lullabye of Broadway,” “On Broadway,” “45 Minutes From Broadway,” “Boogaloo Down Broadway,” “Funky Broadway,” “There’s a Broken Heart for Every Light on Broadway.”

6. “Walk on the Wild Side/Waiting for My Man”— Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground. “Up to Lexington one-two-five,” that New York telephone conversation rattling in our heads.

5. “Down in the Depths (on the 90th Floor)”— Cole Porter says, “I happen to like New York.” So do we.

4. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”— Bob Dylan. Only line in the song about the city, but it is the line: “I’m going back to New York City, I do believe I’ve had enough.”

3. “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”— the Ramones. “Well, New York City really has it all, oh, yeah.” Could have said 53rd and Third, could have said them all.

2. “Take the A Train”— Duke Ellington. Fastest way to Harlem, fastest way to Heaven.

1. “New York, New York” (It’s a wonderful town). “The Bronx is up, the Battery’s down.” Leonard Bernstein, Comden and Green: And even swells like them rode “in a hole in the ground.”

1 comment to Best Songs About NYC

  • John

    Ben E. King had been long gone when the drifters cut ‘Up On The Roof’ – just thought I’d let you know regards John

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