Musically one of the greatest and most influential cities in the world, giving birth to punk, hiphop, jazz and numerous subgenres to all of these styles and more. And to mark the 15th anniversary of the fall of The Twin Towers, here is my rundown of the 15 greatest songs to come out of NYC.
15. Richard Hell and the Voidoids – Blank Generation
– One of the originators of punk. This song is the blueprint.
14. Nas – One Mic
– The greatest living MC to come from NY.
13. Swans – Sex, God Sex
– Took punk, slowed it down considerably, made it ten tons heavier, painted it pitch black. The result? Horrifying and gorgeous.
12. Television – Torn Curtain
– Post-punk long before punk was even dead. True innovators.
11. Johnny Thunders – So Alone
– One of the coolest rock stars of all time. He oozed NYC.
10. New York Dolls – Subway Train
– Perhaps the most important band in terms of their influence on punk. This is existential angst set in a dimly lit and desolate subway car.
9. Patti Smith – Free Money
– One of the greatest rock poets to come out of NYC. Another one of the innovators.
8. The Velvet Underground – The Black Angel’s Death Song
– The Godfathers. Thanks to the Velvets and Lou we have punk, goth, post-punk, industrial, indie pop… This song lives up to its title. It’s a masterpiece.
7. Interpol – C’mere
– For a while in the 00’s these guys carried the NYC torch and they did it perfectly. This one of their most touching songs.
6. The Notorious B.I.G. – Kick in the Door
– The King of New York. The Greatest MC of all time. The second musical idol of my life. On this track he sets the record straight as to who really is the King of New York.
5. Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat
– Okey, he’s not from New York. Hell, he’s not even American. But this song IS New York, just as much as the Hudson or Bagels.
4. Suicide – Frankie Teardrop
– What I said about The Velvets could easily and just as rightly be said about Suicide. Their influence can not be over stated. Not ever.
3. Ramones – 7/11
– These guys saved rock n roll from the dreary likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Genesis and whatnot. They ushered in a new era. This song is one of their least known, but it’s stunning all the same.
2. Bruce Springsteen – Jungleland
– Bruce is from the other side of the river, but this song is not. This song lives and breathes NYC street life.
1. Frank Sinatra – It’s a Lonesome Old Town
– Also from the other side of the river, but you don’t get more New York than this. This is wet streets, lonely walks lit up only by neon signs, steam rising from the sewer and a heart too heavy to bear. Essential. A masterpiece.