Saturday, August 28, 2010

A New York State of Sound?

They say cities have their own soundtracks. Whoever first said that definitely had New York in mind. Not all of it is music, mind you...a lot of it comes from the sound of the streets - construction, the taxi receipt machine, the rumble of the subway underfoot. But a lot of it comes from the people around you and even the visuals that may bring to mind certain sounds.

Nowhere looks, feels, sounds or smells like New York. It's a sensory experience that can't be replicated.
 Here's a soundscape diary of sorts from my trip to New York this week:
  • New York always makes me think of Blondie. If I'm walking down the street and my mind wanders, chances are, I'm hearing "Atomic", "Rip Her to Shreds" or "Hanging on the Telephone" in my head. Debbie Harry and her band got their start here, and they were at the epicenter of a bunch of great music to come out of The City in the late '70s. 
  • On the Subway, I saw a big burly teenager...all muscle and attitude listening to his iPod, leaning against the train pole looking as badass as he possibly could. The posturing melted away when I could hear that it was Michael Jackson's "Beat It" bleeding out from his headphones. 
  • At Shea, er, I mean Citi Field, the speakers are set to 11 with a mix of baseball staples to a video of Billy Joel singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". Added to the mix are of course the jets taking off and landing at LaGuardia Airport, which we got an up close look at from the ferry taking us to the stadium.
View from the Water Taxi leading on approach to Citi Field

Another vehicle on approach near Citi Field

Elsewhere, while I was walking around, I saw this marquee.
Does anyone still want to be close to him?
I had no idea he was still around, but I'm glad to see he's still trying to pack 'em in in NY although I'm a bit concerned that his official website is out of date and he's referred to as a "Britist Reggae Legend":

Certain sounds find unlikely homes in New York: At JFK, they have a restaurant called Sammy's Beach Bar and Grill...a theme restaurant of sorts centered around Sammy Hagar.

Sammy Hagar.

Think about that for a moment. When You think of New York and music, who immediately comes to mind? Acceptable answers include, but aren't limited to: Blondie, Lou Reed, Sinatra, Billy Joel, etc. Hell, even The Beatles bring more street cred to the game than Sammy Hagar!

People, I come here to praise Sammy, not bury him. I have to give him a world of credit. He parlayed the above song from what could have been his one hit wonder petard on which to foist himself upon into much, much more.

Did you know he sang the theme to Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Did you know Fast Times at Ridgemont High even had a theme song?!?!

He went from humble speeding beginnings to wrecking what was a perfectly acceptable David Lee Roth-fronted Van Halen. Some are quick to point out that the Sammy-led VH was more commercially successful. Did someone say "commercial"?:

Clearly (no pun intended), once Sammy got a taste of the beverage business he was thinking bigger and better. Today, he's as much known for his Cabo Wabo tequila than he is music. I can honestly say that I do not own one song Sammy has ever sung (yep, I'm with Team Diamond Dave), but if a Cabo Waborita is on the menu, I will order one.

David Lee Roth, if your reading this, why not start your own line of tequila? One has to think this would sell like gangbusters.

Just a future tequila gigolo?
Anyway, back to Sammy. Much like the kid who traded up a paperclip to a Porsche over time on Craigslist, Mr. Hagar has gone from one hit wonder, to fronting a major rock band to tequila magnate to restaurateur. He's like a combination Jimmy AND Warren Buffet. Parrotheads got nuthin' on the Hagar Horribles! And to think, now with a foothold in New York at JFK, who's to say a Sammy Hagar-themed Times Square restaurant isn't far off?