New York City

From This Might Be A Wiki

song name New York City
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Factory Showroom, Dial-A-Song: 20 Years Of They Might Be Giants, A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity, Stumpbox Speak My Thoughts, Rhino Hi-Five: They Might Be Giants, John Henry + Factory Showroom, 50,000,000 They Might Be Giants Songs Can't Be Wrong
year 1996
first played June 21, 1996 (927 known performances)
run time 3:02
sung by John Flansburgh


This song was originally recorded by a group called cub from Vancouver. The original version is an inspired piece of garage-grrrl rock. We took a little bit of the garage element out, and put a little more New York New Wave into the mix. The original lyrics were not immediately intelligible, so some liberties were taken. ("Co-op City" is used in TMBG's version, instead of "Alphabet City" / "Katz's and Tiffany's" was "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in the original.) Lyle Workman from Frank Black's band sits in on lead guitar.
John Flansburgh heard "New York City" on the radio, and something about it struck him that [cub] was clearly not from New York. They were writing this very positive, upbeat song and it was the last thing you would expect someone to write about New York. It seemed like a breath of fresh air to us.
  • Flansburgh often alters lyrics of this song in live shows, which include:
    • The original lyrics by cub refer to "The Empire State where King Kong lives", while TMBG's version is "The Empire State where Dylan lived". Flansburgh often tends to sing the original Cub lyric as "...where King Kong lived" at most shows, but has been known to sing the album version on occasions.
    • Instead of "I held your hand, you held mine", Flansburgh often sings "You held my hand, I held yours" in most live shows. However, he has occasionally sang the album version in some shows.
    • Instead of "I'm three days from New York City and I'm three days from you," Flansburgh has sung variations, such as "I'm three hours from New York City and I'm three hours from you" during live shows in Albany, Providence and Washington DC, or "four hours" in Harrisburg, PA.
    • Instead of "wish I was there", Flansburgh occasionally added "the LIE" (Long Island Expressway) or "the guy with the cell phone".
  • Features the Mono Puff rhythm section of Hal Cragin on bass and Steve Calhoon on drums, as it was originally recorded as a Mono Puff song for inclusion on Unsupervised.[1] Linnell added his keyboard overdubs later. Mono Puff might have recorded the track at Coyote Studios around the same time as their cover of Frank Black's Oddball. Both songs feature the same lineup of Eric Schermerhorn and Lyle Workman on guitars, and Coyote Studios is mentioned in the Factory Showroom liner notes.
  • The organ solo is a melodic quotation of the 1962 song "Telstar" by the Tornados, a song that Flansburgh later included on his Low Stakes radio show playlist.

Song Themes

Body Parts, Cities, Educational, Food, Friendship, Hands, Islands, Loneliness, Love, Music, New York City, People (Real), Places (Real), Precious Metal, Questions, The Senses, Streets, Telecommunication, TMBG Remakes, Transportation, US States, Weather, Writing


Current Rating

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New York City is currently ranked #288 out of 1010. (158 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.62)