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On Music: Manhattan By Rodgers & Hart…

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“People in London think of London as the center of the world, whereas New Yorkers think the world ends three miles outside of Manhattan.” Toby Young

On Music: Manhattan By Rodgers & Hart... Manhattan South view

On Music: Manhattan By Rodgers & Hart... Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Manhattan and more

On Music: Manhattan By Rodgers & Hart... Central Park

Ella FitzgeraldManhattan

Manhattan by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
Summer journeys to niag’ra
And to other places aggra-
vate all our cares.
We’ll save our fares;

I’ve a cozy little flat in
What is known as old Manhattan,
We’ll settle down
Right here in town.

Chorus 1
We’ll have Manhattan,
The Bronx and Staten
It’s lovely going through the zoo.

It’s very fancy
On old Delancey
you know.
The subway charms us so,
When balmy breezes blow
To and fro.

And tell me what street
Compares with Mott street
In July?
Sweet pushcarts gently gliding by.

The great big city’s a wondrous toy
Just made for a girl and boy —
We’ll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy. Contd below

A few days ago, I was listening to the radio when a song I hadn’t heard in a long while came on… It was an old favorite; Manhattan by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart and it brought back a flood of memories from many years ago. You see, when I was in College, I took a musical theater class and we had to choose a song to practice and perform in front of the group. Since I was new to the States, a dear friend suggested I try my hand at “Manhattan.” I heard it on tape and was absolutely sold. I ran out and picked up a copy of the sheet music and practiced my new favorite song. I love how Rodgers & Hart were able to weave in the other boroughs and include the names of a few well known streets. Before I even knew where Yonkers was, I’d heard it in this beautiful ear-worm of a song.

“Manhattan… capital of the 20th century, a city that has fascinated me for more than three decades.” Jurgen Habermas

On Music: Manhattan By Rodgers & Hart... Delancey St

On Music: Manhattan By Rodgers & Hart... Financial district

Ella Fitzgerald: Manhattan (1965) Full Version

Chorus 2
We’ll go to Greenwich,
Where modern men itch
To be free,
And Bowling Green you’ll see with me.

We’ll bathe at Brighton,
The fish you’ll frighten
When you’re in,
Your bathing suit so thin
Will make the shellfish grin,

Fin to fin.

I’d like to take a
Sail on Jamaica
Bay with you,
And fair Canarsie’s lakes we’ll view.

The city’s bustle cannot destroy
The dreams of a girl and boy —
We’ll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy. Contd below

Even though my memory of the aforementioned course and class performance is dim, I still have fond memories of singing the song in my Manhattan years. Ironically, whenever, I would sing it out loud in the company of friends, someone would pipe up and say, “oh yeah, I love that song – I’ll Take Manhattan.” The correct title of the song is Manhattan but over the years, for whatever reason, many continue to refer to it as I’ll Take Manhattan… Isn’t it interesting how we sometimes formulate our own words for a song? When I started blogging a few year ago, I added favorite songs and lyrics to a few posts and I was sometimes surprised that some of the lyrics had words that I had casually optioned for one of my own. The specific tune doesn’t matter, but the idea that we can take a popular song, reinvent some of the lyrics, and spend years singing along to our version of reality… is quite funny.

“The only place where people in Manhattan walk for leisure is in the park.” Christo

On Music: Manhattan By Rodgers & Hart... Guggenheim Museum

On Music: Manhattan By Rodgers & Hart... Downtown Manhattan

Manhattan 1929 song from Rodgers and Hart (Full version)

Chorus 3
We’ll go to Yonkers,
Where true love conquers
In the wilds
And starve together, dear, in chiles’.

We’ll go to Coney
And eat bologna
On a roll,
In Central Park we’ll stroll
Where our first kiss we stole,
Soul to soul.

And South Pacific
Is a terrific
Show they say,
We both may see it close some day.

The city’s clamor can never spoil
The dreams of a boy and goil —
We’ll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy. Contd below

NYC is a wonderful place to be. It offers a wide range of foods, places to visit, and a diverse, cosmopolitan population that keeps subway rides and street interactions interesting. For this post, I’ve added a full version of the song for your enjoyment. I also added a few versions of it via video. Two are abbreviated versions and two are full versions that include the four chorus sections in the original. In one of the videos, Ella makes a funny comment after she made a mistake on one of the words… Do you know which one? Well, watch the full version video. What makes this song an important part of our collective memory and New York history is the fact that Rodgers & Hart included landmark sites like Coney Island and mentioned all the boroughs. Plus, it is a catchy tune worth learning and perhaps singing the next time you visit Manhattan. What do you think? More below

“I love New York City. Everyone is busy with their own lives – and no one is interested in some Hollywood celebrity walking past in downtown Manhattan.” James Van Der Beek

On Music: Manhattan by Rodgers & Hart ... Grand Central Station

On Music: Manhattan By Rodgers & Hart...

Blossom Dearie. – I’ll Take Manhattan

Chorus 4
We’ll have Manhattan,
The Bronx and Staten
We’ll try to cross Fifth Avenue.

As black as onyx
We’ll find the bronix
Park express,
Our Flatbush flat, I guess,
Will be a great success,
More or less.

A short vacation
On inspiration
Point we’ll spend,
And in the station house we’ll end.

But civic virtue cannot destroy
The dreams of a girl and boy —
We’ll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy!
Lyrics via as per a complete version sent by Guy from Bath in England.

Music is always a great way to start or end the day, wrap up a week and relax… I hope you have a musical week ahead!
What about you? What are your thoughts? What music about a favorite city comes to mind? What memories does it invoke? Do you know the lyrics to your favorite songs? Do you have special happy songs for certain occasions? Do share! Thank you. 🙂

Positive Motivation Tip: Music captures special moments and events in our lives an can transport us back to those precious times. Share your music… and lighten up the skies.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Manhattan South, Statue of Liberty and more, Central ParkFinancial district, Guggenheim Museum, Delancey St, via Wikipedia and/or Downtown by Kaysha via Flickr
Lyrics via as per a complete version sent by Guy from Bath in England.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

24 Comments leave one →
  1. 25/03/2012 12:48 am

    What a fabulous post, so educational about a top singer as well…thanks for share..;)

  2. Bree permalink
    25/03/2012 1:39 am

    Another terrific post on my favorite city in the world! I love the photos too.

  3. 25/03/2012 2:38 am

    Fantastic post – makes me want to visit New York!

  4. 25/03/2012 3:14 am

    LOVE this!

  5. 25/03/2012 5:57 am

    You do go all out in your post…so informative and entertaining at the same time…WOW! ~mkg

  6. 25/03/2012 8:18 am

    Brings back memories of when I lived in upstate New York. There is no place like Manhattan!

  7. 25/03/2012 9:38 am

    I so enjoyed the photos of NYC–haven’t been there in a few years and I’m only 2 or so hours away! Thanks much for Ella–love her voice and the song? Well, it evokes a time when I was a very young girl, and it brought back so many memories. Thanks, Eliz.

  8. babs50nfab permalink
    25/03/2012 1:50 pm

    I’m overdue for a NYC fix. Love your photos Elizabeth!

  9. 25/03/2012 2:18 pm

    It must have taken you a week to put this post together, but what a job you did!

  10. 25/03/2012 4:36 pm

    This is where I live and I didn’t even know this song!

  11. 25/03/2012 7:20 pm

    Ahhhhh, thanks for this post, Elizabeth. Manhattan’s been on my mind this week, trying to pry myself from my complacency to get there.

  12. 25/03/2012 8:26 pm

    I absolutely, positively, LOVE New York! This post was a lot of work, Wow!

  13. 25/03/2012 8:31 pm

    Would love to visit New York City someday! My husband is originally from Brooklyn.

  14. 26/03/2012 5:05 pm

    My dream is to live in New York City; that’s after I win the lottery, of course.

  15. 26/03/2012 10:12 pm

    your posts are such masterpieces. I am giving you the ABC award; to say that your blog has Awesome Blog Content doesn’t even begin to describ eit!

  16. 27/03/2012 3:26 am

    I love NYC and the sublime Ms Fitzgerald 🙂

  17. 27/03/2012 4:50 am

    Great post Liz.

  18. Bree permalink
    27/03/2012 7:02 am

    I love NY! And this post makes me love it more. That song is an earworm for sure. It is a catchy upbeat song. Thanks for the lyrics too.!

  19. 27/03/2012 11:43 am

    New York City is such a fascinating place. I enjoy visiting, but not living there. Some music that leave me breathless are from Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserable. There are other genres I like when I want to relax, when I want something upbeat, etc., etc.

  20. 27/03/2012 5:24 pm

    It looks as though Manhattan has changed a little since that couple sang their little song in 1929. Clothing styles have changed a little, too. I love the fact that films still exist from the early days of film-making enabling true comparisons to be made as history as progressed.

    • 27/03/2012 8:26 pm

      Yes, quite. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, we can revisit such film reels. TY!

  21. 27/03/2012 8:34 pm

    thanks for the fantastic ‘trip’ to NYC. And oh how I love Ella.

  22. 28/03/2012 1:42 pm

    My daughter and son-in-law are living out the verses sung by Ella Fitzgerald in Manhattan–They are just thriving and glowing, they are, in Manhattan!

  23. 30/03/2012 4:01 pm

    I am a LOT behind! Manhattan looks lovely, Elizabeth. I particularly like the colours in the Central Park photo.

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