1. "New York, New York" - Ryan Adams
Although this song is more about the girl Adams lived with while in the city than New York City itself, it's a logical starting off point. The video is especially haunting as it features Adams performing in front of many landmarks in New York's skyline including the World Trade Center. The video was shot on September 7, 2001, four days before the city was changed forever.
2. "Manhattan" - Kings Of Leon
Again, another song named for a famous borough of New York, but not necessarily about the city itself. "Manhattan" is a Native American word that translates roughly to "The Island Of Hills". The song was never released as a single off the 2008 breakthrough Only By The Night but it remains one of my favourites by Kings Of Leon.
3. "53rd & 3rd" - The Ramones
Written about Dee Dee Ramone's dark days a male prostitute in the back alley's of what was known as "the Loop" in New York. It was an area known for gay bars, prostitution and drug use. It has since been cleaned up and many of the shady bars were shut down. Dee Dee would die of a drug overdose in 2002.
4. "New York Mining Disaster 1941" - The Bee Gees
Before the Bee Gees succumbed to the glitzy grip of the daemon known as Disco, they were once referenced as the Australian Beatles. Many Beatles fans thought the Bee Gees were the Beatles just performing under a different name. Regardless, "New York Mining Disaster 1941" (which is a completely fictitious tale) wound up being the Bee Gee's first international hit.
5. "First We Take Manhattan" - Leonard Cohen
Cohen's world famous monotone crooning and baffling, dizzying wordplay is cranked to 10 in this iconic track. "First We Take Manhattan" is Cohen's answer to people needing extreme actions to get them motivated. Included on his 1988 album I'm Your Man.
6. "Empire State Of Mind Pt. 2" - Alicia Keys
Originally recorded with Jay-Z the song was intended to be an Anthem to the city that both artists were from. Keys decided to record a more soulful version, echoed and insightful. Jay-Z was supposed to reappear and record a rap for this version, but the plans fell through. I feel the song does just fine without him.
7. "Shattered" - The Rolling Stones
One of my favourite Stones songs. The Rolling Stones have always had a love/hate relationship with North America, "Shattered" is their slight to a city thats "in tatters". A place where people can find enormous success but also turn a blind eye to the crime, drug-use and violence that takes place on a near daily basis.
8. "On Broadway" - The Drifters
The Drifter's now legendary motown sound and perfect harmonies come together here to form a near emmaculate ode to the mecca of show business, Broadway. It speaks from an innocent time before the silver screen and before celebrity statuses were handed out on the internet. Dreams came from the heart and the passion would let no amount of work and sacrifice to get in the way. That's what New York meant for so long to so many.
9. "Angel Of Harlem" - U2
When Bono and company first came to America they fell in love with New York City. Nearly every song off of Rattle & Hum is about it or inspired by it. "Angel Of Harlem" is a tribute to Billie Holliday who was a Jazz singer from Harlem who struggled with racism, abuse and drugs until her early death in 1959. She was widely viewed as one of America's best.
10. "Fairytale Of New York" - The Pogues
People from all over the world are inspired by the Big Apple. Ireland's The Pogues wrote what is now widely accepted as the best Christmas song of all time, about irish immigrants falling in love in New York City around Christmas time. The promises of fame and a happy life were enough to bring the city it's fair share of immigrants in years after the war.