a new york state of mind
IMing with my friend Nico tonight, we were talking about how much I hate New Jersey (YAH NJ, whut whut?!) and how I will be moving back to New York as soon as I can remove my head from my nether regions, and I started thinking about the phrase “New York state of mind.” Immediately I thought of the Nas song, but when I YouTube’d it, Billy Joel took up like the first 10 entries. Duh. Of course. The Billy Joel song is pretty awesome. Look, or rather listen. Or both (don’t you love YouTube?).
Now the only problem with Billy Joel’s rendition is that he is coming to New York. He sings “but I’m taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River line/I’m in a New York state of mind.” The music is quite good, so we’ll let Billy off the hook for his bridge and tunnel perspective. Visiting New York is fine if you are a certain type of person. BUT I AM NOT THAT PERSON!
Let’s not go down that road. I will start foaming at the mouth and this blog will get all I hate New Jersey and that’s not the point of this.
Anyway, so we’ve got Billy Joel’s sort of nostalgic take on the New York state of mine, which is a little ironic, because how can he be nostalgic if he is like, not a New Yorker? If he’s “taking a Greyhound” we presume he’s coming from elsewhere, Westchester or the unmentionable (it’s initials are N J), so perhaps “aspirational” would be a better word, but this song is from the 70s or something so it was before we were marketed to in this fashion. So “nostalgic” will have to do.
But it’s Nas’s track that more accurately describes the New York state of mind that’s truly nostalgic. Some would say it’s better that this “state of mind” no longer exists in New York, but what has taken it’s place? Starbucks on every corner and Avalon rental properties charging $3000/month for a one bedroom somewhere where only artists lived before and the walls are so thin you can hear the din of your neighbor’s tv next door. And invariably they are watching some ridiculous show like “American Idol” or “Friends” re-runs.
Nas raps “nothing’s equivalent to the New York state of mind” and I agree with him. Even those Avalon property-living, Wall Street-working types who have flooded the city recently and created a need (a need? really?) for a stupid Starbucks on every corner (total aside, but someone recently told me that the burnt coffee taste that came to represent Starbucks was actually done on purpose because their beans weren’t very fresh so they burnt the coffee to cover up the staleness, then people came to expect and WANT the burnt taste! This is the “New” New York…burnt overpriced coffee) have their own New York state of mind, which as a New Jersey dweller (temporarily, oh god, so temporarily) I can not begrudge them. But Nas still has, at least for me and my experience, the true “New York state of mind” because he’s actually LIVING it, not VISITING it, as Billy Joel does in his tale.
Compare for yourself here: