A Song and a Story: “New York, New York” #AtoZChallenge


Frank Sinatra returns to A Song and a Story with his take on this standard of civic boosterism:

New York, New York

Officially this song is entitled “Theme from New York, New York,” but no one really calls it that, and I’ve got another song and a story for the letter T.  If you asked me as a kid, I’d would’ve told you that “Theme from New York, New York” was an ancient song, written shortly after Francis Scott Key composed “The Star Spangled Banner,” and possibly of greater significance to my parents’ and grandparents’ generation.  It was only later in life that I learned that song originated in Liza Minelli’s 1977 movie, and the ubiquitous Frank Sinatra version was released in April 1980, when I was already six years old!

I’ve never lived in New York, but my parents grew up there, my sister was born there, and I lived within 30 miles of the City until I went to college.  I’ve visited New York City at least once every year of my life and it’s an important place for me.  My childhood coincided with a time in the 70s and 80s that was not a good period for New York with an increase of violent crime, homelessness, and deteriorating buildings and infrastructure.  And yet at every public event, sporting event, or party I went to in New York as a child, I heard this cheerful song extolling the virtues of New York.  I think people gravitated toward the song whose lyrics gave them hope in bad times.

Among my childhood memories was going to the great parties my parents’ friends who lived in the City would throw to celebrate their children’s’ baptisms, first communions, and confirmations.  At one of these parties around 1982, the hosts set up a jukebox behind their house in the Rockaways.  You didn’t need to put in a coin, just pick a song and wait for it to play.  I was part of a group of boys who repeatedly selected the theme from “Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis and ran in slow-motion down the driveway, until one of the dads put the kibosh on that.  But no one objected to selecting “New York, New York” on the jukebox, and it played with greater frequency as the party went on. By the end of the night, I remember standing on top of a milk crate conducting a chorus of drunken adults as they crooned along with Frank Sinatra to “New York, New York.”

Today people associate Sinatra’s “New York, New York” with being the Yankees’ victory song, but dammit, it means so much more to me!


2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon
G: Ghost Town
H: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe
I: If I Were John Carpenter
J: Jungle Strut and Justified & Ancient
K: Kiss
L: Loaded
M: Marble Halls and My Moon, My Man

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

A Song and a Story: “Fly Me to the Moon” #AtoZChallenge


 

Today’s song is a standard from Frank Sinatra, who I think we’ll see again in this A to Z:

Fly Me to the Moon

Shortly after our marriage, Susan gave me a gift certificate for professional voice lessons.  I’d always liked singing, but had never done any performing until I joined a chorus for a Christmas concert at church the year before.  My instructor Ingrid told me to get together a list of songs I wanted to sing, and among the soul and folk songs I thought would work well with my baritone, I had to include a standard from the Frank Sinatra songbook.  We worked on this one a lot and I got pretty good, if I say so myself.

In 2009, I decided to audition for the Christmas Revels chorus.  I had to prepare two songs for the audition, and having never auditioned before, I had no idea what to sing.  I settled on “The Whistling Gypsy” since it was a song I knew by heart, and then “Fly Me to the Moon” since Ingrid and I had worked it so much. When my time to sing came, I belted out “Fly Me to the Moon” complete with a key change.  I didn’t realize that they wanted just a verse and a chorus and sang the whole song.  Ooops!  Somehow I still made it in the cast.  The next year the audition instructions specified NOT to use pop songs.  I’ve always wondered if I played a part in that happening.


2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

Musical Guilty Pleasures


Last Wednesday I was due to post my Album of the Month reviews for August, and this Wednesday is supposed to be a Musical Discoveries post, but I have listened to nothing so I have nothing ready to post.  So, I’m moving Album of the Month to next Wednesday, August 24th and a Music Discovery for Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings on August 31st.  Today, I’ll go with a list of songs I’ve compiled under the heading Guilty Pleasures.

I hesitate to use the term guilty pleasures, because almost certainly all of these songs have people who love them unabashedly, and the older I get the more I feel that if any music brings a person joy it should not be mocked.  Nevertheless, these are cheezy pop songs that don’t fit in with my usual tastes and that music snobs who are less forgiving than me would look down on.

So let’s check out my Musical Guilty Pleasures in reverse alphabetical order by song title:

“We Like to Party” – Vengaboys

The Dutch have made many contributions to global culture, but are not so strong in the pop music area.  Still I find this song irresistibly catchy.

“Strangers in the Night” – Frank Sinatra

I’ve always had trouble with lyrics – understanding them, and memorizing them.  But in college I made myself memorize this song.  I thought it might be something that people would find impressive/amusing.  It didn’t work.

“Star Wars Theme” – Meco

Not only did I love this disco version of the Star Wars theme, but I actually once had an entire album of Meco interpretation of film soundtrack songs.

“The One That You Love” – Air Supply

When I was a kid I decided to make my own weekly Top 10 list of songs and this was the first number one song on the list even though it was two years after the song was released.

“Never Gonna Give You Up” – Rick Astley

The song that launched ten million Rick Rolls, but you gotta admit that he has a good voice and it’s a catchy tune.

“Mouth” – Merril Bainbridge

When people talk about the great music of the ’90s, this song doesn’t come up, but it brings back memories.

“Milkshake” – Kelis

You should see me dance to this song.

“Let it Go” – Demi Lovato

Popular with girls aged 12 and under, I can’t help but want to join in the sing-a-long.

“Jump Around” – House of Pain

Nothing makes me feel more white than my enjoyment of this song.

“I Think We’re Alone Now” – Tiffany

I kept my love of this song a big secret when I was 13.

“Hold On” – Wilson Phillips

Who can resist singing along to “Hold On?”  No one, that’s who.

“Don’t Worry Be Happy” – Bobby McFerrin

I have an affection for this song because I was on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard and McFerrin was playing a show there so the local radio kept playin this song and it was this quirky, happy song that no one else knew until a month later when it was suddenly being overplayed everywhere.

“Doctor Jones” – Aqua

Another song I associate with travel, this time to Ireland and the UK where this was a big hit and played so often that people were absent-mindedly singing it under their breath.

“Another Night” – Real McCoy

When my wife and I were friends in college, long before we started dating, this was “our song” for some reason that has been lost to memory.

“America” – Neil Diamond

Patriotic songs are cheezy, Neil Diamond is cheezy, so this is a large extra cheeze, but dang if I don’t feel inspired.

 

So what are your musical guilty pleasures?  Make your confession in the comments below!

 

Favorite Songs of 1979


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1979.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I think this may be the most unlikely collection of songs I’ve brought together yet.  My eclecticism is showing, but all of these are special to me in some way.

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus

Hammond Song – The Roches

Heart of Glass – Blondie

Logical Song – Supertramp

Lost in the Supermarket – The Clash

A Message to You, Rudy – The Specials

Oliver’s Army – Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Redemption Song  – Bob Marley

Theme From New York, New York – Frank Sinatra

We Are Family – Sister Sledge

And my song of shame for 1979 is You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – Neil Diamond & Barbra Streisand 

(I went through a Neil Diamond phase as a child.  I was a strange youth.)