New York, New York, big city of dreams. But everything in New York ain’t always what it seems. You’re no tramp but you’re no lady. Talkin’ that street talk. If you wanna please me, I don’t mind if you tease me, just take me for a night in New York. New York City is the hottest place for a honeymoon in a hotel room.
Since New York City is a former capital of the United States, in honor of this holiday weekend, here’s a handful of great disco songs about New York City, the capital of the world.
Metropolis, I Love New York, Salsoul Records 1978
Mixed by the legendary Tom Moulton, about whom I should devote an entire post, I Love New York was immediately loathed by the critics, who saw the track as a lame attempt to cash in on New York’s then brand new tourism slogan, which of course it was. More favored was Metropolis’ Greatest Show On Earth, from the same album. However, time has tempered opinons on I Love New York and it is now a mix-show favorite on NYC’s disco oldies stations. The words are easy and the harmony is sweet.
Andrea True, NY You Got Me Dancing, Buddha Records 1978
Porn star Andrea True followed up her massive hit pean to getting fucked on camera, More, More, More , with another tribute record, this time to the nightclubs of Manhattan, as she name checked some of the popular clubs of the day, including legendary gay hotspot 12 West: “At 12 West, the sound’s the best.” Not as catchy as her first single, NY You Got Me Dancing still reached #27 on the Billboard Hot Singles chart and got a later bump when it was selected for the Boogie Nights soundtrack.
One of the most poignant and melancholy of disco songs, a genre not typically known for introspection, Native New Yorker is perhaps the most widely loved song about New York (Liza notwithstanding), although I’ve always suspected scant attention is being paid that the singer is lamenting a wasted, lonely life as she finds herself with no man and no prospects at age 35, yet still hopes for someone to “set her free from New York City.” Yes, honey, where DID all those yesterdays go, when you still believed love could be like a Broadway show? With the backing of the New York Philharmonic, Native New Yorker was produced, arranged and conducted by Charlie Calello. Odyssey, while not considering themselves a disco group, went on to have several more club hits, most notably Use It Up, Wear It Out.
Produced by the legendary August Darnell, he of Kid Creole, Machine, and Cherchez La Femme fame (and far too many groups to list here), A Night In New York is my favorite song on this list, as its lush orchestration and retro big-band arrangment beautifully evokes the glamor and sophistication that so many imagine New York club life to be. Elbow Bones was just another one-off from the prolific Darnell and this was the only record under this name.
Some disco purists would object to this track’s appearance in this post, but under my generous definition of “disco”, almost any song that packed the dancefloor of a disco is a disco record. And man, did this track from German punk/opera singer Nina Hagen blow the roof off the mutha! Listen as she namechecks Roxy, Mudd Club, Pyramid as well as David Bowie. Produced by Giorgio Moroder, New York New York is a hilarious and scary electro/punk/opera/ romp and a stone classic of the New Wave period.