InStyleJohansenI have had over 20,000 LPs in my life.  I have had around 10,000 CDs.  At one time, I had around 2000 45s, collected during my very young years.  I have realized that there aren’t that many albums created that were enjoyable all the way through, at least in my life.

Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t a wealth of revered albums that I can listen to completely.  I do.  So do you.  But we are more emotionally tied into what we listen to, often for life’s soundtrack reasons.  It’s why we hear a song that we are very pleased with, run out and buy the album that contains it, and discover that the song we loved was about the only great track on the album.

Honestly, of the 20,000 LPs, and 10,000 CDs that have passed through my life (and continue to do so), there aren’t that many that I have a complete love affair with.  One day I should try and tick them off on a list.  But some day…

It should be noted that there are all kinds of love for any album.  I recently came back into contact with In Style, the 1979 Blue Sky-issued second album from David Johansen.  On that album is a track that I adore, the jazz-flavored ballad that is an ode to NYC, “Big City”.  If there was ever a love song written to a city, especially one as storied as New York City, “Big City” is it.  When I hear it, I feel that love for Chicago.

David JohansenI remember playing this track over and over and over.  In Style itself was a very good album.  I really and genuinely liked every song on the album, some more than others.  The album itself is very listenable all the way through.  Still…”Big City” is so contagious that it demands five times the play than the rest of the albums does.

If I did iPods (I really should but I just can’t), “Big City” would be on a frequently played playlist.

So there are albums that we love completely, with every song a gem; infinite replay value.  Then there are albums with good songs throughout, but a few songs possess the infinite replay value.  Then , of course, more often, there are albums with forgettable tunes BUT one!  Ohhhh, that one track.

I’ll end here by recommending “Big City” for you to seek out somehow.  Go to Amazon, and listen to a 30 second snippet.  Or if you have Google Play, or Spotify, or enjoy any of the radio services on the ‘net, give it a listen.  I’ll provide a video to a Johansen show in 2012, but its complete acoustic rendering doesn’t do the song justice in any way.  It has to be heard with its saxophone, piano, percussion, and Johansen’s believable vocals.  He’s in love.  You can tell.  You can feel it.  A great song.  Once you’re there, you might want to even listen to other tracks on In Style (especially if you utilize Spotify, or Google’s new Music service).

“Big city, you wear such a frown
Big city, you just tear me down
But still I linger, I still hang around
‘Cause you’re the best thing that I’ve found

Every night I’m dancin’, new love, true romancin’,  out livin’, out prancin’

Big city, you’re the one that I love…”

“Big City”
David Johansen – In Style (1979)

There just isn’t enough time in the day.  Never enough time.

By MARowe

3 thoughts on “Songs To Love: Big City – David Johansen”
  1. Hi Matt, you bring to mind a record like that that I have. Except that I don’t really like many of the songs, but it has a stellar track, guaranteed to cheer my day. I do do iPods, (even my car has one!) and this has always been one of the first tracks I’ve loaded on my favourite list. Due to the inherent problems with iTunes and Windows, I have had to rebuild that list more often than I care to remember.
    I know you’re a big Yes fan, so it may ring a bell. The original keyboard player for Yes was Tony Kaye, as anyone knows. He left to be replaced by Rick Wakeman, of course. Well Tony Kaye proceeded to play on a record by Eddie Harris, a jazz brass player, made “in the UK” (the name of the record, actually) with a number of British sidemen. The record contains a song called “I Waited for You”, with TK playing the most glorious synth, which is the song I mean. TK plays on the last track as well, but really that song is the only reason to get the record. Interestingly, TK also founded a band called Badger, and although they made 2 records, the first one, “One Live Badger”, is a hidden treasure of a record, while the second one is totally forgettable.

  2. John I love TK and his playing on “The Yes Album” is simply awesome. Have the “One Live Badger” and love it!

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