Folk Music about New York?
October 25, 2007 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for Folk song specifically abut New York City?

I know on the album "Bleeker and MacDougal" Fred Neil had at least 2 songs directly referencing New York ("Bleeker and MacDougal" and "Handful of Gimme" are the songs). And recently at work I've been hearing Shannon McNally's Song "Pale Moon" also about New York. I have fallen in love with all of these songs. This is inspiring me to amass a collection of Folk songs about the city. Please give me any and all recommendations, no matter how obvious they may seem. My exploration of folk has been erratic and un-thorough, so there is a very decent chance I have missed some very obvious examples.
posted by piratebowling to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Pogues, Fairytale of New York.
posted by zamboni at 8:02 AM on October 25, 2007


Simon and Garfunkel, "Bleecker Street"
posted by mds35 at 8:03 AM on October 25, 2007


And their "59th Street Bridge Song."
posted by mds35 at 8:03 AM on October 25, 2007


Well, as long as we're doing S&G, "Only Living Boy in New York", and "The 59th St Bridge Song".
posted by zamboni at 8:05 AM on October 25, 2007


Many songs from Black 47
posted by mikepop at 8:08 AM on October 25, 2007


New York Girls - traditional, so sung by lots of people.
posted by Helga-woo at 8:10 AM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jetpack by Jill Sobule.
posted by hermitosis at 8:13 AM on October 25, 2007


Bob Dylan, "Talking New York",
Cisco Huston, "New York Town"
posted by ITheCosmos at 8:15 AM on October 25, 2007


Try the Traditional Ballad Index. I can't link directly to the search, but "New York" turns up lots of hits, mostly for songs published in New York, but there are pertinent ones: Sidewalks of New York, Can't You Dance the Polka?, etc.
posted by zamboni at 8:16 AM on October 25, 2007


Eddie from Ohio, Bleecker to Broadway
posted by bondcliff at 8:16 AM on October 25, 2007


Hard Times in New York Town by Bob Dylan
posted by Bromius at 8:17 AM on October 25, 2007


Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song - Jeffrey Lewis (hey, this answers the "songs in response to other songs" thread, too)
posted by Leon at 8:17 AM on October 25, 2007


New-school folk ok? (Looks that way on preview.) Saint Mark by Beth Amsel, clip available here. Spring Street by Dar Williams. Last Fare of the Day by Richard Shindell. (Warning, this is a tearjerker song about 9/11, but to my mind it is the only good one.) Love Song/New York by Bill Morrissey - I first heard this covered by Lucy Kaplansky, who is a New Yorker and has a number of other, original songs that fit the bill, but Love Song/New York is amazing. See also Laura Cantrell, who is a little more country than folk, being from New York by way of Nashville - first thing to come to mind is her version of "Letters" by Lucinda Williams.
posted by clavicle at 8:28 AM on October 25, 2007


The Boxer also seems to take place in New York.

I'm sure Joni has many, but I thought of Chelsea Morning.
posted by lampoil at 8:33 AM on October 25, 2007


there've got to be a ton by folkies who came to NYC to record in the 30s-40s-50s, e.g., Lead Belly, Jean Ritchie, and Woody Guthrie. Doing some research on those folks would probably turn up quite a bit.

From Woody's repertoire, off the top of my head:

Mermaid's Avenue
New York Town
posted by ethel at 8:57 AM on October 25, 2007


See my question regarding songs about NYC - the answers aren't strictly folk, but there's a lot of variety and you might find some in there.
posted by sprocket87 at 9:02 AM on October 25, 2007


Yes, re: Woody Guthrie.

He wrote and performed New York Town, but Cisco Huston really took up the song and made it his.

On Mermaid Avenue (wherein Billy Bragg & Wilco too Guthrie Lyrics and put them to song) there is Walt Whitman's Niece and on Mermaid Avenue II there is Joe Dimaggio Done it Again.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:09 AM on October 25, 2007


Seconding Fairytale of New York by the Pogues.
posted by sjl7678 at 9:43 AM on October 25, 2007


Not exactly folk, but the Magnetic Fields' "Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side"
posted by SBMike at 9:47 AM on October 25, 2007


Want to real deal? Hie yourself to the South Street Seaport Museum for their monthly folksong concerts. There are invariably people in the room with encyclopedic knowledge of folksongs, and particularly about New York and its environs. Dan Milner and Bob Conroy are the men to talk to.

There is also a New York Shanty sing (all maritime songs to do with New York City and harbour), happening monthy at the Seamen's Church Institute, 241 Water Street, Manhattan. Get in touch with The New York Packet for more details.
posted by LN at 9:58 AM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Avett Brothers - Famous Flower of Manhattan (off the album - Four Thieves Gone). This is currently one of my favorite indie bands right now (folk), and this is a brilliant song.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 11:58 AM on October 25, 2007


"New York, New York" by Ryan Adams in one of my favorites.
posted by eralclare at 12:27 PM on October 25, 2007


MetaFilter's own flapjax at midnite's Lexington Avenue Line.

Although I suppose it might be more bluesy than folky. Whatever.
posted by Xoder at 12:35 PM on October 25, 2007


Jonathan Richman's "Springtime in New York".

Jeffrey Lewis (mentioned above) has a few NYCish songs. "The East River", for example.
posted by backwards guitar at 1:30 PM on October 25, 2007


To Turn You On, Roxy Music
posted by gelcap at 1:49 PM on October 25, 2007


What about Nico, "Chelsea Girls"?
posted by hermitosis at 3:08 PM on October 25, 2007


How could I forget almost the entirety of Ani DiFranco's first (self-titled) album? Plenty from the rest as well, definitely too many to list here, but her first is the most folkish. Maybe start with the song "Talk To Me Now."
posted by clavicle at 7:17 AM on October 26, 2007


Hey so "Going to Queens" is by The Mountain Goats, and it's pretty excellent. And while I'm repping the band, the last verse in their song "The Mess Inside" features New York and breaks my damn heart every time I hear it. Those are on the albums "Sweden" and "All Hail West Texas", respectively.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:52 AM on October 26, 2007


1981 Simon and Garfunkel held a concert in Central Park. Included in the performance was a song, the only one in the show written by Art Garfunkel (I think), called "A Heart in New York". Worth the effort to find if you ask me.
posted by kc0dxh at 10:19 AM on October 26, 2007


I just want to apologize. My link has muzac! I'm sorry I didn't warn you, I was posting at work, and they automatically remove all muzac from our internets (or at least, don't let us have speakers).
posted by Helga-woo at 5:35 AM on October 27, 2007


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