If you’re sick of hearing Frank Sinatra tell you that he wants to be a part of it, or Alicia Keys gushing about how these streets will make you feel brand new, then rejoice – here’s an alternative musical history of the Big Apple. Ladies and gentlemen, get your walking shoes on for a journey through Flavorpill’s essential Manhattan lyrical topography. Click here for a larger version of our rock ‘n roll map of the borough and take our guided tour after the jump.
Harlem’s rich musical history is well-documented, as is the fact that it was where Lou Reed used to go to score smack. The blocks north of 110th Street feature prominently in all sorts of songs – including, of course, “Across 110th Street.”
“Up to Lexington, 125/Feeling sick and dirty/More dead than alive…”
The Velvet Underground, “I’m Waiting for the Man”
We confess to having taken a photo on this corner, under the street signs.
“Get as high as you can on Saturday night/Go to church on Sunday to set things right…”
Gil Scott-Heron, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox”
A landmark album in many ways, Scott-Heron’s 1970 masterpiece references his adopted home of Harlem in its title and several of its lyrics.
“I am sitting/In the morning/At the diner/On the corner…”
Suzanne Vega, “Tom’s Diner”
The real Tom’s Restaurant – as also featured in Seinfeld – is on 112th and Broadway.
“Across 110th Street’s a hell of a tester…”
Bobby Womack, “Across 110th Street”