If you’re planning a road trip to New York City, why not put together a playlist of your favorite New York City tunes to listen to on the way? Here are 10 classic road trip songs about the Big Apple to get you started, with genres that span jazz, hip hop and rock ’n’ roll.
- Duke Ellington Orchestra, “Take the ‘A’ Train” (1941) – Named for a newly opened subway line that connected Manhattan and Brooklyn, this big band classic was the signature song of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Billy Strayhorn, Ellington’s arranger and collaborator, took the name from the directions he was given to Duke’s house which began ”Take the ‘A’ train…”
- Billie Holiday, “Autumn in New York” (1952) – Originally composed for the musical Thumbs Up!, this jazz standard paints a gorgeous picture of the big city in the fall.
- Simon & Garfunkel, “The Only Living Boy in New York” (1970) – Simon & Garfunkel’s mellow ballad is a great song to put on as you approach the city. Relax and enjoy the skyline before crossing into the fast-paced downtown traffic.
- John Lennon, “New York City” (1972) – John Lennon pays tribute to the roots of rock ’n’ roll and the city he came to call home with “New York City.”
- Lou Reed, “Walk on the Wild Side” (1972) – Arguably one of Lou Reed’s most well-known songs, “Walk on the Wild Side” was produced by David Bowie and inspired by the regulars that hung around Andy Warhol and his art studio, The Factory.
- Bobby Womack, “Across 110th Street” (1972) – 1972 was a good year for songs about New York. Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street” was written for the film of the same name. In the song, Womack describes the difficulty of living north of 110th Street, which marked the border between Central Park and Harlem.
- Leonard Cohen, “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” (1974) – Although originally from Canada, Leonard Cohen become enamored with the music scene in New York. The song takes place in the Chelsea Hotel, one of the most famous residences in New York City. A few of its notable long-term occupants included Cohen himself, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Charles Bukowski, Iggy Pop, Patty Smith, Allen Ginsburg and Dylan Thomas.
- Frank Sinatra, “New York, New York” (1980) – Although written for and performed by Liza Minnelli in Martin Scorsese’s film New York, New York, Frank Sinatra made it a hit, and it’s his version that we remember today.
- Beastie Boys, “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” (1986) – The New York trio’s hit from the album License to Ill is a hip hop classic that is still widely played.
- Jay-Z with Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind” (2009) – The most recent track on the list was an instant hit that features a memorable hook by Alicia Keys and verses by Jay-Z. It’s the perfect song to put on as you drive through the city.
A playlist isn’t the only thing you should prepare for your New York City road trip. Before you head out, make sure your vehicle is ready for the journey. Check tire pressure, fluid levels and your auto insurance coverage. If necessary, take the vehicle in for a tune-up or call insurers to compare free quotes on auto insurance online. Taking a few precautions beforehand can help ensure a safe and memorable New York road trip.
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