A lot of people have asked me what I’m listening to as I walk around New York. The answer is nothing, because I prefer the rapturous sound of the city. But I realized today there are some songs that keep popping into my head as I walk. Please don’t make fun of me.
“The Breaks,” Kurtis Blow
There’s a scene in Beautiful Losers where Steve Powers is talking about coming to Manhattan for the first time in the 80’s and he turns a corner and boom! There’s a police car on fire. Then this song starts playing. Not that I’m an advocate for violence or vandalism, but sometimes I walk around New York wishing I could see something like that.
“Around the World,” Daft Punk
Good driving beat. But for some reason I can never remember the lyrics.
“N.Y.C.,” from the musical Annie
A lesser-known song from the musical that was not featured in the movie (but it was featured in the 1999 remake). I know it because I probably listed to the album by the original Broadway cast every day until I hit puberty (and let’s be serious, quite often after that, too). My entire life, Annie is how I envisioned New York—even though it took place during the Depression. I was like, whoa, living in New York sucks but Daddy Warbucks’ place looks pretty sweet.
“Walking on the Moon,” The Police
One day I was thinking, so, what are some songs about walking, anyway? And this was the first that came to mind.
Ghostbusters original score, Elmer Bernstein
This is another movie that introduced me to New York when I was a kid. There are so many locations featured in the film that I walk by one almost every day. And they still freak me out. The Ray Parker, Jr. song didn’t stick in my head, but the rest of the instrumental music that plays throughout the movie did. I didn’t know that Elmer Bernstein did the score! Amazing!
“Living for the City,” Stevie Wonder
Another nice driving beat, appropriate for illustrating my plight to succeed in urban life.
“To Be Real,” Cheryl Lynn
Oh, come on! Like you haven’t sung that to yourself before.
I am pretty sure this stems from my first trip to Europe in 2004 where I was shocked to learn that no matter where you go in the world, everyone is listening to the same damn song. From then on it has been burned in my brain whenever I’m walking somewhere new.
“Time to Pretend,” MGMT
This is one of the best songs of the year, period. The hook is like my pump-up song in the morning.
“This Is It,” Kenny Loggins with Michael McDonald
Make no mistake where you are.