As this 100 part weekly series winds to a close over the coming weeks I figured I'd do some music best-of lists in these final five installments including this week's Top Ten Best NYC Subway Songs. While a tough list to compile, due to the sheer number of songs out there that reference the most frequently used mode of transportation here in New York City, it was still a fun one to draw up.
For this top ten, rather than just do say 70's rock or 90's hip-hop or any one specific genre, I tried to cover several genres and eras, and even still just scratched the surface. The selections are mostly subway themed songs - although some are overall NYC themed but with subway references in them like the ones by Fear and VU which placed in the last two positions for that very reason. Some others that almost made the list include "F Train" by Babe the Blue Ox, Unsane's “D Train,” "The L Train Is A Swell Train And I Don't Want To Hear You Indies Complain" by Out Hud, "Subway: The Last 'I Love New York' Song" (from the musical Mayor), and another musical one - "Subways Are for Sleeping" from the musical of the same name. In comments below please feel free to add any songs you think should have made the list.
1) Duke Ellington Orchestra “Take the ‘A’ Train” (1941) "You must take the 'A' train / To go to Sugar
Hill, way up in Harlem." Even if they don't realize it, everyone knows this song - a jazz standard and signature tune for Duke Ellington and his orchestra with lyrics. Literally a classic and one that pops
into my head every time I take the A train, and I rate it number one on my list for its historic relevance. Honorable mention to another jazz classic: "GG Train" by Charles Mingus about the line now known
simply as the "G" line - as the "L" line used to be the "LL" line.