Friday, October 28, 2011

A Tenement Museum Playlist: the Lower East Side in Song

The history, the food, the traffic, the people, the's no surprise that the Lower East Side has been inspiring music of every genre for decades. What other place on earth can count Rodgers and Hart and Joey Ramone among its admirers? For an audible trip through the neighborhood we love, check out our playlist and click the links to listen.

1929:  Rodgers and Hart's "Manhattan" from the musical I'll Take Manhattan asks the unanswerable question, “...Tell me what street compares with Mott Street In July? Sweet pushcarts gently gli-ding by.”

1941: Hal Borne's "Tenement Symphony", performed by Tony Martin in the Marx Brothers film The Big Store, draws its decidedly schmaltzy inspiration from diverse, densely-packed tenements: "The Cohens and the Kellys/The Campbells and Vermicellis/All form a part of my tenement symphony".

1978: "I Just Wanna Have Something to Do" by the Ramones may not directly reference the Lower East Side, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention one of the many iconic punk bands who got their start at CBGB, a legendary club on the Bowery. An added bonus: this is probably the only song in history to rhyme "Second Avenue" with "chicken vindaloo".

The Ramones on stage at CBGB

1987: “Delancey St.” by Dana Dane, from the album Dana Dane With Fame, was on the vanguard of hip hop's love affair with designer labels, referencing both Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

2005: "The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side" by The Magnetic Fields is a "beauty and the beast song, from the perspective of the beast," from the album 69 Love Songs

2006: The instrumental jazz piece “Lower East Side Rock Jam”, from Christian Mcbride's Live at Tonic album adds an impressionistic element to our list.

2010: “Orchard Street” by Thurston Moore can be found on his solo album Demolished Thoughts. Moore is best known as one of the founding members of Sonic Youth--another influential band that played at CBGB in its early days.

Thurston Moore performing with Sonic Youth

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