This afternoon’s installment in our guest playlist extravaganza comes from the 33 1/3 series’ mastermind, David Barker. David, a UK native with a PhD in English from Newcastle University, is U.S. Editorial Director at Continuum Books in New York. He conceived and launched the 33 1/3 series in 2003. (Here’s a 2005 interview conducted by Daphne Carr, who six years later is the author of the series volume on Nine Inch Nails.) Cyrus and I owe David a special debt for accepting our proposals and keeping our volumes on track. Thanks, too, for participating in this playlist series.
Five NYC Songs
1. Caitlin Rose: “New York”
I’m not sure that this live version quite does the song justice, but it’s a brilliant portrayal of how one’s first visit to NYC at a tender age (or any age?) can have a huge impact: “Tennessee, when I get home / You just better leave me alone / Don’t try to claim me as your own / I’m not the girl I used to be…”
2. Fannypack: “Seven One Eight”
I have a horrible feeling that Fannypack were/are some kind of post-ironic Park Slope hipster joke band (and I can’t be bothered to look it up, obviously). But I’ve loved this song since it came out a few years ago, and the nonsensical way that it encapsulates a certain way of being young, dumb, and carefree in NYC.
3. Harry Nilsson: “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City”
My Dad was a huge Nilsson fan when I was growing up in suburban England in the 70s. This song is gorgeous, wistful, aspirational, and lovely.
4. The Fleshtones: “Destination Greenpoint”
How does it feel to be part of a legendary NYC scene, and then basically forgotten about, 30 years later? You have to read Joe Bonomo’s fabulous book to find out, but this relatively recent song sounds like a bunch of middle-aged guys still in love with the city after all that time, and putting their peers to shame.
5. The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl: “Fairytale of New York”
Preposterous, really, that this song was prevented from being the UK’s Christmas Number One in 1987, by the Pets Shop Boys’ cover of “Always on My Mind.” It’s a work of singular genius, encapsulating so much of what visitors think/feel/believe about New York City, and it never fails to make me cry when they play it on every single Virgin Atlantic flight from the UK to NYC in the month of December.
What’s on your NYC playlist?
“Right Here, Pal!” by The Immortal Porpoises http://www.soundclick.com/player/single_player.cfm?songid=2407812&q=hi&newref=1
Actually, if you go to the main link, all four songs are about New York. There’s a minor tie-in with the “Destination Greenpoint” Fleshtones on the author’s list. I replaced Gordon Spaeth when he left the Fleshtones in the late ’80’s. The photo you’ll see is me with Gordon at a Fleshtones show a good ten years after that. Original Fleshtones bassist Marek Pakulski sang back-ups on all four tracks. http://www.soundclick.com/theimmortalporpoises
And so this isn’t all about me, The Dictators, “New York, New York” and “Minnesota Strip,” probably a few others. New York rock and roll bands do lots of great songs about NY. I’m not sure any other city can say that, and NY commerce and politics killed off live music in NY long ago. But the music remains.