"Theme from New York, New York" (or "New York, New York") is the theme song from the Martin Scorsese film New York, New York (1977), composed byJohn Kander, with lyrics by Fred Ebb. It was written for and performed in the film by Liza Minnelli. It remains one of the best-remembered songs about New York City.
- 2 Certifications
- 3 In popular culture
- 4 Covers and live performances
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
In 1979, it was recorded by Frank Sinatra, for his album Trilogy: Past Present Future (1980), and has since become closely associated with him. He occasionally performed it live with Minnelli as a duet. Sinatra recorded it a second time in duet with Tony Bennett for his 1993 album Duets.
The first line of the song is:
Start spreadin' the news, I'm leaving today I want to be a part of it: New York, New York.
The song concludes with the line:
If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere, It's up to you, New York, New York.
Minnelli's original recording of the song (also used in the Tony Bennett version in Duets) uses the following closing line:
If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere, Come on come through, New York, New York.
It should not be confused with the song "New York, New York", from Leonard Bernstein/Adolph Green/Betty Comden's musical On the Town (1944), which features the lyric "New York, New York, is a helluva town / The Bronx is up and the Battery's down..."
Composers Kander and Ebb stated on the A&E Biography episode about Liza Minnelli, that they attribute the song's success to actor Robert De Niro, who rejected their original theme for the film because he thought it was "too weak".
The song did not become a popular hit until it was picked up in concert by Frank Sinatra during his performances at Radio City Music Hall in October 1978. (It was not even nominated for the Academy Award for 'Best Song'). Subsequently, Sinatra recorded it in 1979 for his 1980 Trilogy set (Reprise Records), and it became one of his signature songs. The single peaked at #32 in June 1980, becoming his final Top Forty charting hit. Sinatra made two more studio recordings of the song in 1981 (for his NBC TV special The Man and His Music) and 1993 (for Capitol Records). From the latter, an electronic duet with Tony Bennett was produced for Sinatra's Duets album.
The lyrics of the Sinatra versions differ slightly from Ebb's original lyrics. Notably, the phrase "A-number-one", which does not appear at all in the original lyrics, is sung twice at the song's rallentando climax. (Ebb has said he "didn't even like" Sinatra's use of "A-number-one"). The phrase is both the first and fourth on a list of four superlative titles the singer strives to achieve — "A-number-one, top of the list, king of the hill, A-number-one" — where Ebb's original lyrics (performed by Minnelli) were "king of the hill, head of the list, cream of the crop, at the top of the heap."
Despite Sinatra's version becoming more familiar, original singer Minnelli had two of the tune's most memorable live performances – during the July 4, 1986 ceremony marking the rededication of the Statue of Liberty after extensive renovations, and in the middle of the seventh inning of a New York Mets game, that was the first pro sports event in the metro area after the September 11, 2001 attacks. She also sang it in the Olympic stadium during the 1984 Summer Olympics, accompanied by 24 pianos and strobe lights.
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The song has been embraced as a celebration of New York City, and is often heard at New York-area social events, such as weddings and bar mitzvahs. Many sports teams in the New York area have played this song in their arenas/stadiums, but the New York Yankees are the most prominent example. It has been played over the loudspeakers at both the original and current Yankee Stadiums at the end of every Yankee home game since July 1980. Originally, Sinatra's version was played after a Yankees win, and the Minnelli version after a loss. However, due to a complaint from Minnelli, the Sinatra version is now heard regardless of the game's outcome. As of the 2005 season, at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark following Staten Island Yankees games, the Sinatra version is heard regardless of the game's outcome, and was formerly done at Shea Stadium at the end of New York Mets games after the September 11, 2001 attack. Previously, Mets fans felt it was a "Yankee song", and began booing it when it was played. It actually first had snippets of the song played after World Series home runs by Ray Knight and Darryl Strawberry during Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. The song is also sometimes played at New York Knicks games. The Sinatra version is played at the end of every New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. It was played at the opening faceoff of Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals at the Garden.
The song was the musical basis for Jimmy Picker's 1983 three-minute animated short, Sundae in New York, which won the Academy Award for Best Short Film (Animated) that year, with a likeness of then-mayor Ed Koch somewhat stumbling through the song, with clay caricatures of New York based celebrities (including Alfred E. Neuman) and finishing the song with "Basically I think New York is very therapeutic. Hey, an apple a day is...uh...great for one's constitution!" and burying his face in a big banana split with "THE END" written on his bald head. (Koch used the same rallentando climax Sinatra used, albeit with one big difference: "A-number one, top of the list, king of the hill..." followed by his impression of Groucho Marx completing, "...and incidentally a heckuva nice guy!")
An instrumental version of the song is used as the main theme music for NBC's broadcasts of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The song is also played a few seconds after the ball drop in Times Square every New Year's, after "Auld Lang Syne".
- Steve Lawrence is the only other singer to have recorded the song with an arrangement by Don Costa. He did so in 1981 for his album "Take It On Home." Don wrote a chart for Steve that differed slightly from the one he wrote for Sinatra in 1978. Don passed away in 1983.
- Sammy Davis Jr. performed the song in live shows.
- José José recorded the song in Spanish in 1982 and performed it in live shows.
- Shirley Bassey covered the song on her 1982 album All By Myself as part of her "New York Medley", along with New York, New York (So Good They Named It Twice). Bassey has also performed the song in concert.
- Lee Towers performed the song in 1983 and other concerts in the Netherlands.
- Jeff Bridges imitates Sinatra singing it in the 1984 film Starman.
- Queen recorded the song, and it was used in the soundtrack for the 1986 film Highlander. Queen's version was never released.
- The Three Tenors performed the song on July 20, 1996 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, with Frank Sinatra sitting on the first row.
- Phish performed the song as part of their 1997 New Year's Eve celebration at Madison Square Garden.
- Reel Big Fish covered Sinatra's New York, New York in 2002 a cappella on their album Cheer Up!.
- Beyoncé Knowles covered the song in 2003.
- Martin Short sang a parody named "North Pole, North Pole" during the 2006 theatrical feature film The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.
- Chew Fu remixed the track in 2007.
- Anna Ternheim included a version of the song on the bonus disc of her 2008 album Leaving on a Mayday (Limited Deluxe Edition).
- Cat Power recorded a version of the song as the opening track of her 2008 album, Jukebox. This was used by the John Nolan & JJ Abrams television show "Person of Interest" in the sixth episode of the first season, titled "The Fix", as the "fade to black" or "exit" song.
- Michael Bublé sang the song in his 2008 concert at Madison Square Garden.
- Jacky Cheung covered the song in his Private Corner Mini-Concert in 2010.
- The Features did a cover for the 2010 PBS documentary Circus, which documented the 2008-09 season of the Big Apple Circus.
- B.o.B covered the song in the launch trailer for the 2011 video game Crysis 2, and an alternate version was sung by Polly Scattergood in the Crysis 2 "The Wall" trailer.
- Devin Townsend recorded a cover in 2011 for the heavy metal based Frank Sinatra tribute compilation, SIN-atra.
- An instrumental adaptation of the song was used in a video for the New York 2012 Olympic Games bid.
- Actress Carey Mulligan performs a cover of the song in the 2011 movie Shame.
- Stephen Colbert sang a parody of the song on the 10 June 2014 episode of The Colbert Report. His version talked about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's role in the state's success in a hockeytournament.
- Frank Sinatra, Jr. covered the song at the 2014 Belmont Stakes.
- Robbie Williams covered the song in his The Swing Tour Live in 2014.