It’s not just Frank who wanted to be a part of it. The neon lights of Broadway – and the grim reality that remains when the lights go out – have inspired and fascinated in equal measures. There’s also the occasional lyric to recall when things weren’t quite as rosy as they are today – like the Ramones’ “53rd and 3rd”, a fairly sordid tale of turning tricks for smack on that particular corner. Good luck trying that these days.
“On the Upper East Side I’ll call you again…”
Experimental Aircraft, “Upper East Side”
This Austin band really ought to be more well-known than they are.
“I can’t give it away on 7th Avenue!”
Rolling Stones, “Shattered”
The last track off Some Girls and the beginning of the end for the Stones’ fertile ‘70s period. Soon, Mick wouldn’t be able to give it away anywhere.
“Is it raining in New York?/Down 5th Ave and off Broadway after dark/You love the lights, don’t you?/I could walk you through the park/If you’re feeling blue…”
Roxy Music, “To Turn You On”
“Broadway looked so medieval/It seemed to flap, like little pages…”
“53rd and 3rd, standing on the street/53rd and 3rd, I’m trying to turn a trick…”
Ramones, “53rd and 3rd”
“Take a walk around Times Square/With a pistol in my suitcase/And my eyes on the TV…”
Marianne Faithfull, “Times Square”
“Sha da do wop, da shaman do way/We like Birdland…”
Patti Smith, “Birdland”
Quite how much this lyric – inspired, apparently, by Peter Reich’s A Book of Dreams – has to do with the Birdland jazz club on West 44th Street is open to debate. But good God, what a song.
“Up on the roof/It’s almost dawn/See the water towers/Look so forlorn…”
Luna, “Great Jones Street”