On the anniversary of 9/11, here is a playlist of my 20 favourite songs about New York. Given that no city can boast as great a back catalogue, there are many tracks that I have been forced to leave out – Public Enemy’s ‘A Letter to the New York Post‘, for instance, the Ramones’ ’53rd and 3rd’, Ben E King’s ‘Spanish Harlem’, Billie Holiday’s ‘Autumn in New York City’, to mention but four – and there will be many more that I have forgotten or simply missed. And no, ‘New York New York’ is not here. Sinatra can be sublime, but that song is the easy-listening version of the stadium anthem.
The 21st track in the list of 20 is Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The Rising’. I much prefer ‘New York City Serenade’ as his love song to the city. But, written as it was in tribute to the resilience of the human spirit – and of the Big Apple itself – in the wake of 9/11, I could not simply ignore ‘The Rising’, so it comes in as an extra.
The photos of the Twin Towers and of the old Manhattan skyline were taken on my first trip to New York in 1998.