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In New York City



 Genre: Soul

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Written in Christmas 1999, during a University art college trip to New York. It all follows pretty much what happened; arriving in the pouring rain, subway trip to Chinatown, the nerve wracking Russian roulette of crossing a Manhattan street, yellow cab rides, visiting John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields section of Central Park opposite the Dakota building and the “imagine” tiles on the pavement, etc.

“Robbie, Nat and Kate” are the singer Robbie Williams, who I bumped into in M.O.M.A, and Natalie Hogg & Kate Clarke, two fellow student friends. I wanted an “Angel of Harlem” feel from the start and am happy with the chance Garageband gave me to get close to that with the horn section and choir for the chorus to evoke that Harlem gospel feel. I never did get to take a trip to Harlem as no-one would go with me. My good friend Tommy Evans did (bravely) approach a street corner group of hip-hoppers, rhyming out lines and joined in. For a ginger curly haired white guy from Leeds, he had a lot of nerve but has the ability to hold his own. I wish I had his integrity. Also noted in the lyrics are the tensions that ran like an undercurrent through the trip with arguments and falling-outs of good friends. All long forgotten now (it didn’t involve me directly, but we all felt it). Against the backdrop of the big apple, we all did “forget who’s to blame” which was as it should be at Christmastime.

During the writing, I asked a few friends to submit song lines to help me along. Sam Shearon kindly offered “awake, the world is real” as we wandered past the Trump tower on our way downtown from our Central Park YMCA hostel and the beautiful pixie-like Kate Clarke, awed and big eyed at our surroundings, suggested “Just like in the movies”, which I later changed to “just like we’ve seen, on the cover of a magazine” although my original 4 track demos still have Kate’s line. My thanks to them both.
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Well it looks like we made it, Times Square in the rain
It's pouring down in Chinatown then catch the subway train
In New York City

Walking close together as we swap a trusting glance
With a neon glow and need-to-know and take a sidewalk chance
In New York City

In New York City, Trawling through the avenues
In New York City, Just like we've seen .... on the cover of a magazine

They've got suburban dreams and Limousines,
Manhattan island subway screams

Eyes wide open in yellow cabs, trying to relate
The angel's up in Harlem, watching Robbie, Nat and Kate
In New York City

In New York City, forgetting who's to blame
In New York City, the pleasure and the pain

They've got suburban dreams and limousines
Manhattan island subway screams

Dreaming loud and minds ablaze, awake the world is real
With a ghetto drive and hip-hop vibe, imagine Strawberry Fields
In New York City

In New York City and it's distant winter sun
In New York City, we're dreaming while we can.
Song Stats
Hits: 2916
Comments: 35
Fans: 18
Plays: 208
Downloads: 0
Votes: 2
Uploaded: Sep 08, 2009 - 02:23:21 PM
Last Updated: Oct 31, 2011 - 08:29:58 AM Last Played: Jan 11, 2019 - 08:24:58 PM
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Fender Telecaster, Hofner Violin Bass, Blue Snowball mic
maxruehl said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
I get the Angel Of Harlem vibe from this. Actually, I get a Smokey Robinson feel from it, also--which may be partly where U2 got it from, too (the Motown thing).:)Nice introduction to your music. Welcome to MacJams.:)
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Lennon714 said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
I've been once in 2002 and my experience was as magical as your experience suggests. I'm not expert, but I'd like to hear your vocals a little cleaner. It seems there's some overdrive breaking them up. The song itself is tops. Way cool arrangement!
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drakonis said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
nice music... welcome!
This is a very fresh and enjoyable piece of music. Love the choir and trumpet stabs as light embellishments. Great lyrics. Listening in headphones, I always find that super-wide panned drums (kick drum on far left, shaker on far right) to be very distracting, and not something you notice on regular stereo speakers... you may want to pull the drums in much closer to center in the mix. Hope that is a helpful idea. Welcome aboard!
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Moviz said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
good song
and well performed, sung and written. The info too makes a nice read.... love the choir and the horns are a good addition... Congrat's on a great first post and welcome to MJ, regards M
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mr_mordenus said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
Sweet and Poignant
I remember the first time I walked out into Times Square on a sharply cold winter night.... this tune eerily captures that weird, wistful sense of wonder. This was the place, so familiar from a million stories, movies and songs, and yet so foreign and filled with tourists and cabbies and frosty-breathed cops holding cups of steaming coffee.

Beautiful song, sweet and laced with the scents of NYC touched for the first time. The production is just rough enough to evoke a mid-sixties 45rpm record feel, but then that angelic chorus lifts it like a glorious, swaying dream. Myself, I kind of like that drums-shaker spread (not that I would ever dare disagree with the wise and thoughtful Drakonis!) because they again underline that old mid-sixties Motown 45rpm record feel.

The horns just begin to suggest what more they might become here. Do you have the orchestral jampack? A fuller horn arrangement would really do this song justice - maybe a trumpet solo? What do I know.

And lastly, your voice is a joy to listen to. Can't wait to hear more of your stuff.
Feter said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
In New York City
This is fabulous writing song ...the arrangement
just wonderful ..despite the mic you are using .
but your vocal is so cool ..awesome lyrics ..
story teller ...the choir so real ...the tele
did its job so well ...kudos ...thnx alot for
sharin !!!!
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MarkHolbrook said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
Is a totally
great song... curious... is the narrow bandwidth on the instruments intentional? Its just to me the song is strong enough I'd love to hear a wall of sound behind this one. I also noticed a little clipping on the lead vocal in places...

Still all that aside I love the song... Congrats on a great first post!
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bud said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
Very nice first post
very nice tune at any time actually. Really well structured and performed.
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richard13 said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
We'll always have New York
The horns and choir are a nice touch. Great first post and welcome. You'll probably enjoy it here.
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sloparts said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
Welcome to MacJams Stephen
Great to hear you first post. Sounds good to me, but I would add a little more drive and bottom end to the bass line, it's pretty thin.

Great song, brings back the Miracles and smokey robinson to me.

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lank81 said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
Nice first song
Welcome to Mac Jams and great first song. My sister-in-law lives about 20 minutes from the City and I've had some great adventures while there. This is a song I'd like to have on the IPod while walking through the city. The only thing I'd look in to is the vocals. It seems a little distorted, maybe you were a little close to the mic? Anywho, great post!
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announcer said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
Some suggestions and observations
You have a lot of nice stuff going on here. Good song and lyrics BUT the mix still seems like it needs some help. First is that the vocal is quite distorted and not in a way that is pleasant or really appropriate for the song to my ears. If you are using something other than the on board mic of your computer you should recheck some of the input levels and some of the settings you are using to try to gets a cleaner vocal sound on the track.

Second suggestion would be to remix the piece to try to get some stereo spread to the mix. It sounds as if it is a truly mono mix. Need some panning or doubling of the brass line to spread it out and you could take the guitar and put it off slightly to one side of the mix and maybe balance that with the piano on the other side.

I assume you have redone this since your four track cassette days? If this is the four track master then forget what I said. Not rally a bad mix for that format.

good posting and I like you voice on this. Has a lot of appeal.
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Relic67 said 3664 days ago (September 8th, 2009)
big apple in stereo
neat song.
I particularly like the guitar and bass parts. Very catchy.
nice arrangement. If I had to fix one thing it would be the vocal recording, as others have pointed out. That aside, it's solid. Great post!
makes me want to go to NYC.
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Saltaireguru77 said 3664 days ago (September 9th, 2009)
Thank you
Hi everyone and thanks for your kind and helpful comments. I really appreciate it and will take it all on board for future efforts. To answer some of the questions, I may have been a little close to the mic hence the distortion as the only thing on there was a bit of reverb. I'll recheck my settings. The mic was also hand held so probably a bit over enthusiastic on my part! The drums were from a garageband loop so not sure if I can affect the stereo spread, but I'll look into it!=) The orchestral jam pack is on it's way, but I don't want to overload the song with brass, just punctuate it in places. Perhaps there's better trumpets for this in the orchestral jam pack as the standard ones sound a bit synthy to me. Maybe for version 2.0. Any narrowness in the sound is just down to my mixing inexperience and clipping similarly. There is a noise gate on the vocals which may have been a bit harsh or it could just be lax editing on my part. This is the garageband recording, not the fourtrack demo, but was my first go at garageband hence the limitations. Many thanks on the kind comments about my singing; I'm not a big fan of my own singing ability and this is a carefully edited version of lots of takes to get a useable track. I may revisit the vocals at some stage to do a better (and less muffled/driven) version.

But thank you very much everyone for your comments. It's very much appreciated.
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announcer said 3663 days ago (September 9th, 2009)
I will stand behind some of my comments about the mix but I was wrong about the stereo spread to some extent. I found out later that somehow my output box was set to one channel mono. Sounds a lot better today than it did then. And am I red-faced with embarrassment 'cause I'm supposed to be a pro audio producer. :) Still like the song and the work you did here. When you get better with the digital audio workstation approach you'll really fly with your stuff.
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PaulaMunk said 3664 days ago (September 9th, 2009)
from inception to fruition. Loved the ah-ah! What a good vibe! Thanks. Good on you!
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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
Thanks Paula!
I'm a bit remiss in my comments acknowledging - catching up! Glad you liked the ah-ahs! Short of going to Harlem and kindly asking a gospel choir if they'd oblige, that was as close as I could get. Thanks for the kind comments
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Daugrin said 3661 days ago (September 11th, 2009)
In the Pocket
Nice job, all around rhythm and blues feel is strong. The lead vocal in that range is a brave thing and I appreciate that.
The production is in the way of lots of stuff, yet I still dig it...lyrics too.

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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
Cheers Daug
The vocals were a bit foa push, which is silly when you write the song youself. It's like making things hard for yourself, but that's not always a bad idea. I do need to re record those as attempts at cleaning them up only got me so far. Glad you liked it!
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lengold said 3658 days ago (September 14th, 2009)
Great song,
great arrangement and superb vocal.

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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
Thanks Len. Glad you liked it. Cheers for taking the time to stop by to listen and comment.
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sschedra said 3583 days ago (November 28th, 2009)
You hit it on the mark here. It has that feel to it. The horns and the choir fit right in. Nice composition.

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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
Cheers Stephen
Acknowledgement from your good self is extra cool. If it's good enough for you, it must be okay! Thank you.
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Bob6stringer said 3436 days ago (April 24th, 2010)
Pure, focused and earnest
This plays a little with what feels like a 60s Memphis influence. MAn, the '60s have yet to be fully mined for the explosion of creativity and musico-cultiral cross-pollination it brought to the world, or at least miy world. That's overdrive on your vox as opposed to clipping, I'm sure, sounds ok by me. The tambo in the right's a bit loud and things are a little compressed -- forgive me if I'm wrong or off-based -- but I care more about the song and performance than the mix. And I really like the tune. It's also refreshing that you're not just screwing around showing us tricks or giving us a poser's ironic witticisms. Please don't be a stranger.
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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
Thank you Bob
The vocal was marred by being a bit loud in it's set up into the mac in the first instance, plus inexperienced playing with the compression presets that just made things worse instead of better. But overall I got close to the mark I was aiming for. Glad you liked it. Thanks for the kind comments!
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Demeter7 said 3388 days ago (June 11th, 2010)
This is so good.
We need to hear from you. :)
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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
Thank you
Glad you liked it. I had to take a break from music for a while to recover from a wrist injury, but back on track now! Cheers for stopping by to listen.
Check out my latest song called Tomorrow
hackneybloke said 3383 days ago (June 17th, 2010)
great intro with a great riff. perfect soul start. the vocal is distorted and popping however. where's phil spector when you need him? great retro creation...with loads of potential...especially vocally. what about a middle left turn though. welcome to MJ. look forward to more.
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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
Phil isn't returning my calls these days mate! I think he's busy! Still working on the best approach to record vocals and it's a learning curve. Thanks for listening and taking time to comment Julian. Much appreciated.
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Hickling_Stan said 3375 days ago (June 25th, 2010)
Enjoyed very much
At the start the distorted vocals put me off but then I started to just tune in and accept them as they were. Lovely groove.Might consider a tempo change or somehthing part way through to give it a little more variety. Nice tune. Cheers mark
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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
Thanks Mark
Much work to be done on making this tune right in terms of the recording quality. V2 was a bit better but I think a re do on the vocals is really what's needed. Glad you liked the overall vibe. Thanks for stopping by!
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egobandit said 3374 days ago (June 26th, 2010)
New york city
My home town I love a song that sings about it, This could have been done yesterday very contemporary in sound Vey pro I could here tis on the radio excellent!
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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
I loved my time in New York and would go back tomorrow if I could! Glad you liked the song. NOt bad for my first effort I suppose. Thank you for taking time to listen and comment.
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CIASM_ZENABI_ said 3348 days ago (July 22nd, 2010)
great interplay between the interesting chord changes and the vocals. chorus a great contrast to the verse but it all knits together great. vocals really very good. be great to hear this professionally produced. enjoyed what i think is a great effort with a great result. cheers
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Saltaireguru77 said 3287 days ago (September 21st, 2010)
Thanks for the kind comments on my vocals. I'm not keen on my own singing voice and this tune in particular struggles with inexperience in recording. But I'm getting there! Cheers for having a listen.
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Artist Info
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Name: Stephen
Location: Great Britain
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I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and still consider myself a learner. I started recording on a tascam 4 track portastudio ten years ago and once I got a Macbook, moved on to Garageband as a means of having more tracks to play with and avoid... [see more]

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Genre Info
Soul music is a combination of rhythm and blues and gospel which began in the late 1950s in the United States. Rhythm and blues (a term coined by music writer and record producer Jerry Wexler) is itself a combination of blues and jazz, and arose in t

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