Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday's Radio Show – A Bite From the Big Apple

Here's the playlist from this morning's show on Orchard Radio. Missed it? Well, you can always catch me again next Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time at

As always, the underlined links represent songs you can download and/or play.

Talkin' New York Bob Dylan (1962)
Native New Yorker Odyssey (1977)
New York City (You're a Woman) Al Kooper (1971)
New York Is A Woman Suzanne Vega (2007)
New York City Norah Jones/Peter Malick Group (2003)
Englishman In New York Sting (1987)
The Only Living Boy In New York Simon and Garfunkel (1970)
New York USA Serge Gainsbourg (1964)
A Night In New York Elbow Bones And The Racketeers (1984)
Rockin' Around in N.Y.C. Marshall Crenshaw (1982)
Autumn In New York Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong (1957)
Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights…) Billy Joel (1981)
New York New York Ryan Adams (2001)
On Broadway George Benson (1978)
New York Cat Power (2008)

Among the songs not eligible for airing (because of the inclusion of certain four-letter words): "New York City Cops" by The Strokes, "Safe in New York City" by AC/DC, "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues and "All The Critics Love U in New York" by Prince.

Among ths songs that almost made it: "New York Groove" by Ace Frehley, "New York State of Mind" by Diane Schuur, "Empire State" by Fleetwood Mac.

Some notes of note:
  • I grouped most of the three-song sets on the show around certain themes. Kooper, Vega and Jones voiced the love-hate relationship that natives like me have with the city; Sting, S&G and Gainbourg sung about the sense of isolation and foreignness that such a huge city can create; and Elbow Bones, Crenshaw and Ella and Louis performed songs that captured the magic of the city. Did it work? I'm not sure. But I liked doing it that way.
  • I remember when I first heard "New York City (You're a Woman)." Al Kooper was opening for a band I can't even remember at Pier 84 on 46th Street in – that's right – New York City. Kooper just blew me away with this epic song that should be required listening for anyone who wants to learn how to write songs: Great build-up that, for once, delivers big-time in the end. Plus it really encapsulates all the feelings New Yorkers have about the city that they both hate and love. Kooper – who came up with the organ riff for "Like a Rolling Stone," founded Blood Sweat & Tears and discovered Lynrd Skynrd – is now teaching at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
  • Let's put all this aimless Internet speculation to rest. "Miami 2017" was written before the 1977 blackout in New York City. The song was inspired by the famous New York Daily News headline in 1975 after the President said no to a financial bailout of a Big Apple on the verge of bankruptcy: "Ford to NY: Drop Dead." As Joel wrote in his liner notes to Songs in the Attic (1981), "More science fiction then than it is now." But hey, we're only nine years away from that date with destiny.
  • Though associated with the waning days of the disco era, "Native New Yorker" was actually penned by the songwriting team of Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, who also wrote "Working My Way Back to You" and "Let's Hang On" for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Valli, in fact, has his own version of the song.
  • "Talkin' New York" was one of only two Dylan originals on his debut album. Needless to say, it was autobiographical.
  • "The Only Living Boy in New York" (part of this post a few weeks ago about the Garden State (2004) soundtrack) was Paul Simon voicing his frustration about the movie star ambitions of his erstwhile partner. During a good bunch of the recording for what was Simon and Garfunkel's last album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Art Garfunkel was in Mexico filming Catch 22 (1970) with Mike Nichols. Hence, the opening lines:
    Tom, get your plane right on time.
    I know your part'll go fine.
    Fly down to Mexico.
    Da-n-da-da-n-da-n-da-da and here I am,
    The only living boy in New York.

    (Tom was a reference to the earliest incarnation of the two performers, who billed themselves originally as "Tom & Jerry")
  • Time to get a little sappy on all of you guys and girls. I take you back to November 2006. My then-girlfriend Veronica and I were flying to New York City from Detroit to spend Thanksgiving with my parents. Through some freakish bit of luck, we were given the chance to upgrade to first class, where we sipped wine and listened to a mix of New York songs I had imported onto my iPod. As we descended into LaGuardia Airport and the lights of New York took over the previously darkened sky, almost on cue, "Autumn in New York" began playing. It was the magical beginning to a magical weekend, which was highlighted by Veronica accepting my wedding proposal. This past fall, we gave our wedding guests a mix CD that included this song. (By the way, the late Oscar Peterson is providing the piano on this song)

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