New York Morning

Album: The Take Off and Landing of Everything (2014)

Songfacts®:

  • Elbow frontman Guy Garvey still mainly lives in Bury, England but he also owns an apartment in New York. This was written about the Big Apple. "I'm fascinated by the place," the singer told NME. "It's been good to write out there, because it gives me focus. I've always found that looking through home from a telescope makes it easier to write about."
  • The song was influenced by Garvey reading EB White's Here's In New York. He told Mojo magazine that it's, "a beautiful little book written in 1949, full of praise and scorn for the city."
  • The lyrics were adapted from one of Garvey's diary entries about a trip he and his then-girlfriend, journalist and novelist Emma Jane Unsworth, made to New York City. Speaking to XFM radio presenter Jo Good, Garvey explained that the lyrics were "pretty much verbatim, 6 o'clock in the morning, in Manhattan in the Moonstruck Café, it's verbatim how I was feeling as the city was waking up."
  • The song was called "The City" for a short while until Elbow realized the implications of such a name in their home city, where the two rival football teams of Manchester United and Manchester City are often referred to as simply "United" and "City."
  • Garvey describes New York in the song as "the modern Rome, where folk are nice to Yoko." "That comes from John Lennon," he explained to The Independent. "In his last press conference when he left England for good, he said: 'Why wouldn't you go to New York? Every nation on Earth represented, all getting along – it's the modern Rome'. Then he said: 'Besides, they're nice to Yoko.'"

    "Quite aside from what people think, whether she was responsible or not for splitting up The Beatles – and I'm very sure she wasn't, knowing band dynamics as I do – it was the out-and-out racism that accompanied that, so when New York clutched them to its bosom as icons, they were very flattered, and it was the place where they felt they could live together and be happy," Garvey continued. "They were never far from my thoughts when I arrived in New York, being a Northerner and a musician. Knowing the love he had for his roots, it must have been very difficult for him to transplant himself, knowing he was a national hero."

    Yoko Ono responded to the namecheck by penning an open letter to Elbow. She wrote on her official website: "Dear Guy, Craig, Mark, Pete and Richard, Yes. New York has been kind to me as your song says. Thank you (sic)."
    "For John, he always wanted to come and live in this city, ever since he saw Bob Dylan on the famous album cover (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan). And I played the catalyst to make his dream come true."
    "But in sleepless nights, I am still living in the memory of my sweet husband, who was virtually kicked out of his own country that he loved so dearly and learned to live in this bleak port city just so his woman and he could live in peace."
    "Two sides of the coin. Life is. Have a great time in New York.
    We loved it. Love, Yoko."
  • The lyric "Everybody owns the Great Idea, and it feels like there's a big one round the corner" originated in Ralph Waldo Emerson's concept of the immediate resonance of universal truths. "While the sharing of ideas is accelerating," Garvey told The Independent, "I love the idea that it would probably arise somewhere like New York where people are forced to mix and work together in order to get something done. If you're as excited as I was when I wrote that original diary entry, it feels like the beginning of a sneeze, inevitable that somebody will speak the truth and we'll all go, 'Of course!', and all live happily ever after."

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