Old New Borrowed Blue #12: NYC
Having been to New York City for the first time in my life earlier this month, I feel it's necessary to fill a blog post with some music from such an inspirational place. Obviously this is one miniscule sample of the amazing music that has come out of NYC during the past century, but like the city itself, we cannot possibly cover it all in only one day, never mind one post. Without further ado...
A truly underrated and underplayed doo-wop oldie from 1965, "The Boy from New York City" was the biggest hit (and might as well have been the only single) for The Ad Libs. It may not be as internationally recognizable as Sinatra's "New York, New York", or Simon & Garfunkel's "59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)", but it's just as inspired by and reminiscent of that great American city.
Ok, so this isn't meant to be a brag, but I was introduced to this new Talib Kweli track live, with Rapsody at The Blue Note in Greenwich Village. If that was my only NYC experience, I think I could die happy. We're still waiting for Kweli to release his new album, but luckily this New York shot video showed up online a couple of days ago. And don't get me started on my new favourite female MC, Rapsody, although she's from North Carolina, so that will have to wait for another blog post.
It's easy to find one New Yorker borrowing from another, but this is one that brings such a smile to my face. KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions is a legendary rapper from Brooklyn that really got his start in hip hop when staying at a homeless shelter in the Bronx. "The Bridge is Over" is basically a dis-track against Marley Marl's "The Bridge" and its suggestion that the borough of Queens is the birthplace of hip hop. To emphasize his point, he references a Bronx-born piano man, Billy Joel, not with an official sample, but with with lyrics, rhythm and vocal inflection. Since it dropped in 1987, it's been made a clear classic having been sampled or referenced by more than 80 other tracks.
Bob Dylan famously moved to NYC to be near his idol, Woody Guthrie, and has been labeled by some as the original New York hipster (although I think that might have meant something different in the 1960's). Dylan has plenty of New York songs and references, but "Hard Times in New York" seems the most appropriate Blues song to close this blog post as a tribute to both New York living, as well as the musical stylistics of Dylan's hero. See if you can spot Dylan's reference to the (perhaps over-played) classic, "This Land is Your Land"...