Amoeblog

Top Ten NYC Subway Songs

Posted by Billyjam, September 3, 2014 10:51pm | Post a Comment
New York State of Mind Amoeblog #96:

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.

1991 Interview with Gang Starr's DJ Premier and the Late Great Guru

Posted by Billyjam, April 26, 2010 09:44am | Post a Comment
Gang Starr
Exactly one week ago today Keith "Guru" Elam (aka G.U.R.U.) of legendary hip-hop duo Gang Starr tragically died at the age 43, a month after the cancer-stricken emcee collapsed and went into a coma. His passing hit all hip-hop fans hard, including myself, since I have been a die-hard fan of Guru and his production partner, the ever talented DJ Premier, from day one and had had the honor of meeting and interviewing them several times over the years. Earlier today, after digging, I discovered one of these old interviews. It's from mid 1991, when the duo were out visiting the Bay Area for a show at the DNA (which was off the hook!) and visiting local retail and radio, including KALX, where I conducted the interview that follows below.

At this stage in their career the Brooklyn based (Boston formed) duo was riding high off the reception to their January 1991 released second album Step In The Arena. In hip-hop it was a time many when rap acts were jumping on the jazz fused musical tip, something that Gang Starr had pioneered -- melding jazzy grooves (rather than the standard James Brown and other funk breaks) into their hip-hop sound. In fact, it was Gang Starr's track "Jazz Music" off their 1989 debut album No More Mr Nice Guy (Wild Pitch) that caught the attention of director Spike Lee, resulting in his inviting Gang Starr to contribute "Jazz Thing" (with saxophonist Branford Marsalis and featuring Kenny Kirkland and Robert Hurst) to the soundtrack of Lee's 1990 film Mo' Better Blues starring Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Samuel L Jackson, and Lee himself.

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