It was September, 1983 and my brother and I were just sitting down to watch the pilot episode of a new sitcom called “We’ve got it Maid” about two guys and their maid. However, we never got to watch the show because my mom came in at the last moment and told us we were going to an “Isaac Air Freight” concert. I had never heard of Isaac Air Freight at the time, but it turns out that they were a successful (a term like that being emphatically relative to context) evangelical Christian comedy troupe who did comedy skits that were like polished “Campus Crusade for Christ” evangelistic outreaches without the guilt. Okay, it didn’t exactly have the punch of Richard Pryor, but as a ten year old I found myself laughing over their observational humor, in particular the fact that toilet paper in public washrooms was wrapped way too tight. (Of course being evangelical Christians they couldn’t address what was dropped in the toilet. Scatalogical humor, like sex , ethnicity and politics was emphatically off limits for conservative Christians out to have a laugh.)
Anyway, I digress. I got to thinking about “We’ve got it Maid” the other day when I was reading a list online of the “Ten Best Sitcoms of the 80s!”. As I read it I said things to myself like “Oh yeah, I remember ‘Silver Spoons’ and ‘How did ‘Perfect Strangers’ make the list?” Then as I finished I stopped to reflect on how many hours in the 80s I wasted watching crappy sitcoms like “We’ve got it Maid” and “Silver Spoons” and “Perfect Strangers”. (You see, looking back, even the best sitcoms of the 80s weren’t that much better than the worst.) And just as I was about to move to a self-satisfied conclusion over how few hours I now spent watching crappy sitcoms, I found myself instead reflecting on how many hours I now spend reading inane things on the internet … like top ten pop culture lists.
So in conclusion I’d like to offer my own list of the Top Five Songs … (drumroll) … about New York!
Sure, it may be inane, but at least it is only half as long:
5. Don Henley, “New York Minute.” (1989) Who can listen to the haunting lyrics of this track — “Everything can change in a New York minute” — without thinking of the Twin Towers and the unspeakably painful legacy of 9/11?
4. Frank Sinatra, “New York New York.” (1979) Of course, Old Blue Eyes simply had to be on the list. How can you listen to this track without envisioning Frank’s name on a glittering Broadway marquee? But please let us never mention his abysmal 1984 swansong from the left coast, “LA is my Lady”.
3. Ace Frehley, “New York Groove.” (1978). Every time I hear this I envison myself with Ace (Spaceman makeup and all) rolling along in a 65′ Bonneville convertible through Times Square. And Gene Simmons is in a city worker’s body suit on the sidewalk picking up garbage.
2. Billy Joel, “New York state of mind” (1976). Is there a single song that captures the Big Apple more perfectly than this? I have little doubt that this is the track Woody Allen puts on his stereo after a long day.
1. Simon and Garfunkel, “The Only Living Boy in New York” (1970). If Billy Joel captured the human side of New York, this haunting track perfectly captures the angels’ point of view. What more need be said?