There are few things more depressing than seeing a beloved bit of pop culture hijacked by the Left in pursuit of progressive policy, and so it is my sad duty to report that that’s exactly what’s happened to Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”
Sometimes billed as Joel’s “love letter to New York City,” the song first appeared on his 1976 album, Turnstiles.
Now it’s re-appeared on the internet, sung by the likes of Idina Menzel, Stephen Colbert, Andy Cohen, Ben Stiller, and Alexa Ray Joel.
Much like New York under outgoing mayor Bill de Blasio, the NYCNext cover is an overwrought mess.
Here it is:
Before we get to politics, though, let me take a moment to explain just how great a song “New York State Of Mind” is, despite the version I had the displeasure just now of making you sit through.
Originally recorded by Joel and his core band — Richie Cannata on sax, Liberty DeVitto on drums, and Doug Stegmeyer on bass — the record had a somewhat spare arrangement, aside from some lovely strings orchestrated by Ken Ascher.
While the studio version is the one I first fell in love with, Joel and his band were always at their best in front of an audience. So here they are playing it live for the UK’s “Old Grey Whistle Test” music show.
Despite a distinct lack of love from Joel’s record label — the song never did get released as a single — fans and even other recording artists recognized it as an instant classic.
Mel Tormé might have been the first to cover it, appearing on his cheekily named A New Album (he hadn’t recorded one in seven years) in 1977. The song became a staple of Torme’s live sets.
Apparently feeling that the line about getting “high in the Rockies under the evergreens” wasn’t to his taste, Mel rewrote the second verse like so:
Been down to Mozambique
Climbed a mountain peak
Drove a racing car
Made plans for Tahiti
But that’s way too far
Mel’s is the version I sing most often while alone in the car.
Tormé recorded his version with Phil Woods basically accompanying him on the sax, and I’d call it a career-defining performance if only Woods hadn’t already had so many of them.
He’s just that good, and this was a song he was born to solo.
COMPLETELY TRUE SCIENCE FACT I JUST MADE UP: Getting Phil Woods to sit in on one of your songs makes the entire album 117% cooler.
According to Wikipedia, “NYSOM” has been covered by “Barbra Streisand, Lea Michele and Melissa Benoist, Joanna Wang, Elton John, Ramin Karimloo, Shirley Bassey, Oleta Adams, Carmen McRae, Mark-Almond, Diane Schuur, Ben Sidran, Leslie West, RWB Ralph Williams Band, Mel Tormé, Frank Sinatra, Adam Pascal, and Tony Bennett.”
And probably too many local performers to count.
Since I’m such a fan of hers, here’s Carmen McRae performing “NYSOM” live with what sounds like a basic jazz combo.
So if you’re one of those Billy Joel haters who doesn’t recognize the greatness of at least this one tune, please understand that pretty much every recording artist of note loves it.
Now we must discuss the dreaded politics.
Years of Bill de Blasio’s “progressive” governance were doing great harm to NYC even before the Wuhan flu hit. Everything de Blasio did after that — the uncleaned subways, the lockdowns, defunding the police, etc. — merely accelerated the ongoing process of de-Giuliani-ing the once-great city.
Now de Blasio is in Panic Mode, trying one stunt after another to bring people back to the city he drove them from.
This week’s drecky multi-artist recording of “NYSOM” is merely the latest, and to my ears, the most offensive.
As I wrote about de Blasio’s “FOMO” thing a few weeks ago:
Insanity Wrap must confess that when we first read “FOMO Alert,” we assumed it was one of this year’s countless imaginary new genders.
We suspect you did, too, gentle reader.
No one could really blame either of us, really.
But, no — it’s worse.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio (D-Manhattan Oblast) just announced his city’s “Homecoming Week” with public concerts to be held in all five boroughs.
“I am literally a child of the ’60s,” His Dishonor said. “So I can confirm to you: This is psychedelic. This is very groovy!”
It is not at all groovy. The new cover of “NYSOM” is even more not at all groovy.
But it’s true that today’s New York needs a new theme song, and fortunately, Billy Joel already recorded it.
Years ago. On that same album, Turnstiles.
It’s called “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway).”
Here’s the last verse:
You know those lights were bright on Broadway
That was so many years ago
Before we all lived here in Florida
Before the Mafia took over Mexico
There are not many who remember
They say a handful still survive
To tell the world about
The way the lights went out
And keep the memory alive
And to think all those years ago, when Joel wrote “Miami 2017” back in 1976, he was only off by four years.