Tuesday, February 05, 2013

R.I.P. Ed Koch: Mayor of the Late 70s New York Music Scene

As mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, Ed Koch not only saw over a near-miraculous socioeconomic recovery of a city that had been written off for dead, but also presided at perhaps the best time ever for the New York music scene.

Coincidence? Not hardly.

A lot of people who were alive back then when NYC was on the upswing but still gritty and grimy have fond feelings for those days.

Granted, the city is much safer now, and being mugged and surviving isn't the badge of honor it once was, but there was a character from back then that is gone now. A lot of that vibe can still be found in the great music that came out of downtown NYC. Here are three of Rock Turtleneck's all-time favorites.

Blondie. Just last week, a friend told me that Blondie named their band after the name of Hitler's dog. I'm not even going to bother looking that up because I so want it to be true. It does seem appropriate however, as Debbie Harry resembles some sort of master-race Aryan ideal. Here they are doing "One Way or Another," a sinister pop song Mick & Keith would be happy to have in their catalog. Parallel Lines also features "Heart of Glass" and "Hangin' on the Telephone," and is a must-own.

Ramones. They were punk way before The Clash and the Sex Pistols, but at the time they were also viewed by fellow downtown rockers as high-concept, with their matching outfits and made-up last names, which was taken from "Paul Ramon," the pseudonym Paul McCartney used to check into hotel rooms with at the height of Beatlemania. More importantly than any concept was the fact that they wrote songs that wouldn't have been out of place on Meet the Beatles. Their high-water mark was 1979's Rocket to Russia, which featured this ode to pre-Sandy Rockaway Beach. Here they are running through it at downtown music mecca CBGB in 1977.

Talking Heads. They came from all over the US, met at RISD, made it big in NYC, and brought the entire world into their sound. "Pulled Up," the final tune on their landmark debut Talking Heads: 77 sounds like it could have been written to Mayor Koch by New York City itself.

I was complaining, I was down in the dumps
I feel so strong now that you've pulled me up
Pulled me up up up up up up up up up

RIP & TCB, Hizzoner.

Buy on iTunes:
Blondie: Parallel Lines
Ramones: Rocket to Russia
Talking Heads: 77