Cities are like women, one writer said. Some of them you like because of the way they look, others you love because of what is inside them. Some cities are luring us to their sumptuous blocks with a lot of makeup, while the charm of others lays in them being genuine. New York is like that – maybe the only city in the world that ‘looks better in reality than on a post card’. At the end of the 60’s New York was the centre of the world, especially if you were an artist. It is said by the connoisseurs that the spirit of NY does not change: it still manages to seduce naïve tourists in less then 5 minutes.
If you imagine an oil on canvas depicting a yellow taxi, rain that pours and blends the colours of traffic lights and commercials – you’re already there, regardless of the decade. The only thing that changes are the taxi drivers. In 1976 the most famous cab driver was none else than Robert de Niro – God’s lonely man, waiting for a real rain to come and wash all the scum off the streets.
At the beginning of February, 41 year will pass since Scorsese created his cult movie ‘Taxi driver’ and the favourite composer of Alfred Hitchcock wrote his last and masterful scores for it – the soundtrack as the predicament of catastrophe! We are referring, of course, to Bernard Herman and his jazzy orchestral sound without which the lonely atmosphere of dirty New York streets just wouldn’t be the same.
Although it is not very likely that you would hear a rock song on the radio after one of Herman’s pieces, if we’d wish to expand the story of a darker side of NY out of the movie cadre and into the field of music, the first thought, or at least one of the first, would be Lou Reed – ’king of New York’, as Bowie once called him. His special gift of telling stories through songs is maybe best heard in his authentic and straightforward way of representing the outsiders and the harsh life on the street. He did that in 1972. in “Walk on the wild side”, but his experience of New York’s various faces will reach its pinnacle with one of his best solo albums called simply ‘New York’. It was released at the end of January in 1989, and the liner notes direct the listener to hear the 57-minute album in one sitting, “as though it were a book or a movie”. But, before you decide to listen to the whole Reed’s story, we suggest one chapter, just to catch you up with its street noise beat: Dirty Boulevard.