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Odes To The Big Apple: New York City In Song

April 11, 2011 5:47 PM

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Billy Joel performs at Shea Stadium on July 16, 2008 in New York City.  (credit: Rob Loud/Getty Images)

Billy Joel performs at Shea Stadium on July 16, 2008 in New York City. (credit: Rob Loud/Getty Images)

From rock and roll to rap and R&B, there are countless musical tributes to the Big Apple. It would be a tedious and daunting task to name “the best,” but here are some of our favorites. Disagree with our picks? Weigh in on your favorite NYC-themed song by leaving us a comment. By Nadine Knoblach.

New York Minute

don henley Odes To The Big Apple: New York City In Song

Don Henley in 2009 (credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Artist: Don Henley

Music legend and member of The Eagles Don Henley produced the ultimate New York City cult song in 1989. New York Minute captivated listeners at the time of its release and has managed to do the same to following generations. In a city where dreams can be shattered as quickly as they’re born, the song’s somewhat-dark lyrics establish an idea that rings true for many New Yorkers:

“In A New York minute/Everything can change/in New York minute/You can get out of the rain.”

New York State Of Mind

billy joel Odes To The Big Apple: New York City In Song

Billy Joel performs at Shea Stadium on July 16, 2008 in New York City. (credit: Rob Loud/Getty Images)

Artist: Billy Joel
If you’ve ever left New York, only to be drawn right back in to the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps, you know what Billy Joel is talking about. New York State of Mind showcases lyrics about losing ones cares upon entering  the Big Apple. The classic was released in 1976, when Joel had moved back to NYC after living in California for three years. The lyrics include shout-outs to NYC staples many residents will appreciate, like Greyhound buses, daily papers and Chinatown.

“It was so easy living day by day/Out of touch with the rhythm and blues/But now I need a little give and take/The New York Times, The Daily News.”

Empire State Of Mind

jay z and alicia keys Odes To The Big Apple: New York City In Song

Alicia Keys and Jay-Z perform at Madison Square Garden on March 17, 2010 in New York City. (credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Artists: Jay-Z, Alicia Keys

In 2010, rap mogul Jay-Z and soulful songstress Alicia Keys gave their home state the ultimate shout out. Empire State of Mind was a breath of fresh air upon release and quickly became New York’s anthem. The song, which took home two Grammy awards in 2010, served not only as Derek Jeter’s at-bat song, but also as the opening theme for Sex And The City 2. An updated take on the idea behind New York, New York (see below), the words are empowering messages of what’s possible in this city.

“New York/Concrete jungle where dreams are made of/there’s nothing you can’t do/Now you’re in New York/these streets will make you feel brand new/big lights will inspire you.”

New York City Serenade

bruce springsteen Odes To The Big Apple: New York City In Song

(credit: AP)

Artist: Bruce Springsteen

New Jersey native and musical genius Bruce Springsteen released a song about the great city of New York in 1973. At nine minutes long, New York City Serenade is Springsteen’s longest song to date. It’s also one of his last jazz influenced ballads. Expressing a pride many New Yorkers can relate to, the lyrics offer some solid words of advice:

“Together they’re gonna boog-a-loo down Broadway and come back home with the loot/It’s midnight in Manhattan, this is no time to get cute/It’s a mad dog’s promenade/So walk tall, or baby, don’t walk at all.”

New York, New York

sinatra Odes To The Big Apple: New York City In Song

Hoboken native Frank Sinatra (credit: PAUL J RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Artist: Frank Sinatra

This list would certainly not be complete without the legendary Frank Sinatra and his classic New York, New York. Interestingly enough, however, the song was originally recorded by Liza Minelli in 1977 before Sinatra made it his own two years later. An embodiment of the traditional New York spirit, it would be a challenge to listen to the classic without feeling inspired. A staple at many New York sporting events, the song blares from the speakers at Yankee Stadium with each Bombers win.

“My little town blues/they are melting away/I’m gonna make a brand new start of it/in old New York/If I can make there/I’ll make it anywhere.”

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