Any of my readers who either know me personally or are in Pierce at 1 on Thursdays know that my other main contribution to the media at Stevens is a radio show. For my last column this semester, why not combine my extracurriculars and write a bit about the great music of New York?
First off on my list of great sounds of New York is ambient noise, especially in the form of our notorious traffic. Not only do videos like the one linked above allow college freshmen from the city to sleep at night when they have to move to a college far from a city, but it can be quite relaxing on its own. Seriously, try relaxing to it sometime.
On a more serious note, the top NY musician on my list is Billy Joel. Billy Joel is as synonymous with New York as Bruce Springsteen is with New Jersey, or The Eagles are with SoCal. The entirety of the Turnstiles album is essentially a love letter to the State of New York, many of the references in his music are locally-known things on Long Island, he’s best buddies with the governor, and Nassau County political candidates attack each other for not respecting the man enough (true story). Also, he’s been selling out at Madison Square Garden monthly for over three years, and his Huntington concert sold out in roughly five minutes.
Before Billy Joel, there was Harry Chapin. Chapin’s music is a lot more folk than it is pop or rock, which isn’t really my taste, but he’s still got some good stuff, and he certainly belongs on the list of NY musicians. My personal favorites from him are “W*O*L*D” and “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Chapin was born & raised in Brooklyn, but eventually moved out to Suffolk County. He’s remembered for his humanitarian work and philanthropy as much as his music. He donated roughly a third of the money from his concerts, co-founded World Hunger Year, and may have been supporting as many as 17 relatives at the time of his death. The Harry Chapin Foundation continues this work. He died at the young age of 38 on I-495 on his way to a concert, so I can never listen to his music on that road.
I’m not too big into hip hop & rap, but there are a few more-than-notable rappers from Brooklyn & Queens. First up of course is the Brooklynite Biggie, our main weapon against Tupac (who’s actually from Harlem) and his California associates. Nas and Jay Z, both from Brooklyn, are also worth mentioning. (By the way, if anyone tells you Jay Z named himself after the J-Z subway lines, they’re wrong.) Finally, 50 Cent was pretty big when I was growing up.
Finally, I have to recommend the Hamilton soundtrack. I never thought I would genuinely enjoy a musical soundtrack without the show, but I was wrong. Also, if any of my readers get a chance to see the show, take that opportunity.