Where I Was:
NYC: The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Me
What I Saw:
In Photographs: New York City
What I Was Listening To
Some of PLAYLIST: Summer Soundtrack — In Flight, and this:
This playlist requires the Spotify app to function.
Come to think of it, this whole playlist-making business for the sake of travelling started in New York. It was a musically-prolific experience — I brought a lot with me, I shared generously, and picked-up voraciously. And why not? Countless sonnets have been written as a love letter to New York. And I’ve had love letters written to me, through music, in New York. This playlist is my personal ode to her.
- Rufus Wainwright, “Peach Trees”
Rufus is the quintessential New York City boy: flamboyant, androgynous, indulgent, and talented. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform at the Rock & Roots Festival in Singapore a couple of years ago, and hearing him sing “Hallelujah” remains to be one of the most ethereal musical moments in my life.
His love for NYC is undeniable; he’s dedicated entire albums to it. But I feel that “Peach Trees” is the perennial ode to New York. Oh wow, this song: the musical technicality (notice how awkward his chords are); his words; the relentless quest for love.
Played perfectly when strolling along Bryant Park.
- Alice Smith, “Woodstock”
New York is renown for being frenetic. It isn’t known to hold one of the biggest musical events of all time: the Woodstock Music Festival. I wasn’t there, but heard that it was wild. And living in a city like New York, I’m sure there is this urge to just go nuts every so often.
Also, what I like about NYC is how organic it is. Compared to cities in the West Coast, like Los Angeles and San Diego, New York has remained to be realistic, explicit, and down-to-earth. Either way you experience New York, it serves as kind of a reality check.
- The Breeders, “Cannonball”
Because I saw them at The Bowery Ballroom.
- Patrick Nuo, “Beautiful”
Clearly not the sort of thing that I would normally listen to, but a boy who was in love with me said that he thought of me when he listened to this song.
- MGMT, “Time To Pretend”
A coming-of-age song for a coming-of-age period. I was fresh out of college, torn between Peter Pan-ing, and pretending to be an adult.
- The Cure, “Underneath The Stars”
- Sophie Milman, “Lonely in New York”
- Ella Fitzgerald, “Wait ‘Til You See Him (De-Phazz Remix)”
- Esperanza Spalding, “Fall In”
- Madeleine Peyroux, “Dance Me To The End of Love”
All love songs to the city. The remix of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Wait ‘Til You See Him” I feel is so undeniably New York: a complex, but natural and complementing mix of classic soul, and modern technology.
- Raphael Saadiq feat. T-Boz, “Different Times”
I was listening heavily to Raphael Saadiq, because he released an amazing neo-soul/retro album right around the time I was there. He is amazing with what he does, and the modern Motown sound that he produces. I’m a huge fan!
- Peter Gabriel, “In Your Eyes”
I saw Say Anything for the first time, at my cousin’s flat, during this trip. John Cusack should never put that boom box down.
- The Virgins, “Private Affair”
New York City natives, who are, sadly, no longer “Virgins.” They disbanded a couple of years ago, which is quite a tragedy because they were such a promising rock n’ roll band. I would say that they are America’s answer to Britain’s Arctic Monkeys in terms of creativity. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep it together.
What Should Have Been On That Playlist
But Spotify doesn’t have them
- The Breeders, “Wicked Little Town“
Everything about it screams New York: HATI being a renown, ground-breaking Broadway show, and everything it stands for; the hot pursuit of love, and eventually finding it in the most unexpected of places, whether it is a man, a woman, or yourself; the torments of loneliness in a town like NYC. The original recording by Stephen Trask was intimate and touching. If you’re familiar with how The Breeders normally sound (which can be loud and distorted), you’d be impressed by how they’ve made their cover to feel the same way: soft, sweet, shy, and incredibly vulnerable. I cry to this song sometimes.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02Pow0Hkvhk
- The Honorary Title, “Bridge and Tunnel”
In New York, the locals would call anybody who wasn’t from their exclusive boroughs “bridge and tunnel” people, for the bridges and tunnels that they would need to take from New Jersey, or Connecticut.
- Bloc Party, “This Modern Love”
NYC is for lovers, true. But alas, some love affairs are just too modern to last. And New York is the Queen of everything mordern.