Iconic Songs about New York City
New York is the biggest city in the United States, and is one of the most famous cities in the world. Thanks to this popularity, many songs have been written focusing on many different aspects of the city. If you want to get in a New York mood, take a listen to one of the well-known New York songs listed below.
New York: An Inspiration for Songwriters
Theme from New York, New York
When it comes to songs that make you think about New York, many people immediately think of the “Theme from New York, New York,” partly because the city’s name is right in the song’s title. This song was composed by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb, and appeared as the theme song to the 1977 film, “New York, New York.” The song was originally sung by Liza Minnelli in the film, though one popular version of the song was sung by Frank Sinatra.
Since its debut, it has become one of the most well-known songs about New York. The song is notable for using the popular nickname associated with New York: the “City That Never Sleeps.” Despite the similar names, this song has nothing to do with the song “New York, New York” from the Broadway musical “On the Town.”
No Sleep till Brooklyn
“No Sleep till Brooklyn” is a song performed by the Beastie Boys. The hip hop song is about what the Beastie Boys do on tour, and how they are excited to get to Brooklyn. The lyrics mention that the band was born and bred Brooklyn, referencing how the band was originally formed in Brooklyn.
The song itself uses a decent amount of heavy metal, as this was meant to poke fun at that genre of music. In fact, the song’s title is a play on “No Sleep ’til Hammersmith,” an album by the rock band Motörhead, who regularly performed heavy metal. The outfits the band members wear in the song’s music video are also meant to poke fun at the kinds of outfits many heavy metal performers wore back then.
Autumn in New York
“Autumn in New York” is another classic song many people like to associate with New York. This jazzy song was originally composed by Vernon Duke and sung by J. Harold Murray for the 1934 Broadway musical “Thumps Up!” Other versions were performed by Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra, among others.
The song itself is, unsurprisingly, about life in New York during the autumn. The lyrics of the song talk about how great it is when autumn arrives in the city, and how the seasonal weather can bring up a person’s spirits. The song also mentions Central Park, and how couples are there enjoying the autumn night. This is the kind of song you should listen to if you want to get into the mood for autumn.
Summer in the City
Performed by the band The Lovin’ Spoonful, “Summer in the City” is a song about New York in the summer, similar to how “Autumn in New York” was about the city in the autumn. The beginning of the song talks about the heat that summer brings, and how most people cannot put up with it. The song then transitions into talking about the night time scene, and how it is much more exciting since it gets cooler out.
The song seems to paint two images of New York in the summer: unbearable heat in the day and a cooler party scene at night. Real sounds from the New York streets are used in the song to help it stand out from other songs like it.
Empire State of Mind
“Empire State of Mind” is a song by American rapper Jay-Z with additional vocals by Alicia Keys. Both singers grew up in New York, and the song was made out of their love for their hometown. The song was a critical success went on to become one of the most commercially successful singles in the United States. Following the song’s success, Keys sang her own follow-up song, “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down,” which you can listen to here.
The song itself mentions a number of famous places in New York, including Brooklyn and Tribeca, and mentions famous people such as Robert DeNiro and Frank Sinatra. Jay-Z also sings about how “there’s nothing you can’t do” in New York. The song features references to a number of famous things from New York, such as the New York Yankees, so it ultimately serves as a tribute to the city and its culture as a whole.
New York is a city that has inspired many musical artists over the years, and it is safe to say that there will be plenty more songs about New York in the future.