Kelly, Sinatra and Munshin – New York, New York

I always feel a bit sorry for kids who don’t grow up in cities. Trees, grass and endless dreary patchworks of farmers’ fields that you can’t even walk on are very poor substitutes for the man-made wonders of a city. In all seriousness, I wouldn’t have swapped living in inner-city Nottingham for any countryside offering. Not even if it came with a nice village pub, a post office and Britt Ekland bashing her rear end against dry stone walls.

On The Town was my favourite film when I was a kid. It’s still one of my favourites – not least for its innovative use of shooting on location.

This song, from the film’s opening sequence, does a very fine job of capturing what it is that makes New York so marvellous. It’s also, with its “the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down”, a very handy geographical guide. As a kid it gave me a good idea of what New York was like. When I finally visited the place I was delighted that it was exactly like that.

Of course, it helped that I walked around like an open-mouthed gawm, imagining myself as either a dancing sailor or swinging about like Spider-Man. And that’s how this song really works – as an expression of pure, innocent and somewhat dopey joy.

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About Paul Saxton

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One Response to Kelly, Sinatra and Munshin – New York, New York

  1. Huw Sayer says:

    Love it – what a great ad for New York.

    Loved watching Gene Kelly dance when I was very young (so wanted to be a dancer when I was five – but distinctly remember being told that it wasn’t “a proper job” and that “men who dance are very strange” and “not healthy” – ! – ).

    Like you, I imagined myself singing and dancing through Washington Sq when I finally made it to NY in 1991 (slightly disappointed that no one else was dancing – but there were plenty of singers – most of them pretending to be Joan Baez).

    Also remember landing at Newark and taking the bus into Manhattan on the New Jersey Turnpike (which made me think of Simon and Garfunkel’s song). Lucky to make it that far, almost got turned back by the Customs Officer when I replied to her question about the purpose of my visit with “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” – apparently she didn’t find it funny.

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