This was the song I chose as my first release. The recording was decent and simple. It is a song that I feel captured exactly what I wanted it to, which rarely happens. Often songs are like kids…. they have a way of becoming not what you were expecting or even wanting, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (and you love them regardless). But Manhattan Fades fell into place immediately. Here are the lyrics:
8 stories high, waved Josephine
To a blue Dodge wagon, going down Montgomery
I waved back til I could no longer see
as Manhattan Fades
Taxis tires in the pouring rain
We took shelter off of Waverly
A frosted window where we wrote our names
as Manhattan Fades
Soaring towers, now line the park
Maybe there’s no such thing as old New York
It’s all of us, we just slip away
as Manhattan fades
Tiparillos, flavored gin,
with Charlie and Kelly, off of Mott and Grand
I see the child behind my old man
As Manhattan fades
After writing this song, I came across the following quote from the novelist Colson Whitehead: “you are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now.”
This is essentially what the chorus is about. When I go to New York it seems like another world. As a sign of the times, developers are buying unused air space from nearby buildings. Due to zoning laws, they have to adjust the footprint of the building as they go taller – hence a slew of slim soaring towers to house billionaires. Many who are leaving their $20 million condos vacant for most of the year.
But NYC is a place with a history and the verses are personal instances of my life/family. The first verse are memories of my family driving back home from my grandparent’s place on the Lower East Side. By Grandmother would always make sure to peak her head out from her window and wave as we were about to head north on the FDR drive. The second verse is my returning to my 20s as a student in NYU. And the final verse is based off of memories my dad told me about of his childhood on the lower east side. It turns out, all three verses spanned about 50 years and three generations – all within a tiny radius on the southern eastern portion of the relatively small island of Manhattan.
The city is cruel in a way. It marches on and develops. I remember my father having little interest in visiting his old neighborhood. To him, it was barely recognizable. I find myself thinking the same thing going to certain neighbourhoods. But that’s life – we say goodbye to our former selves as Manhattan fades…. or something like that.