Although many people associate this song with Frank Sinatra, it was Liza Minnelli who debuted it in the 1977 film of the same name, which was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Minnelli and Robert De Niro as musicians and lovers. It was written for the film by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wrote many songs for her, including the Cabaret songs "Maybe This Time" and "Yes."
Released as a single, Minnelli's version went to #104 in 1977.
Suggestion credit: Sara - Silver Spring, MD
Frank Sinatra began performing this in 1978 at concerts in New York's Radio City Music Hall. His version was released on his 1980 triple album Trilogy: Past, Present and Future, which was highly acclaimed and brought the singer back in the public eye. "New York, New York" quickly became one of Sinatra's signature songs.
While many songs have been written about New York City, no song has captured the pride and elegance of the city quite like this one. The lyrics, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere" sum up what many New Yorkers feel about their city: competition is intense, but success there is richly rewarded and very satisfying. The song stresses personal responsibility in the line, "It's up to you, New York, New York," as it's a place where you can't expect a handout but have an opportunity to succeed no matter who you are. This song also popularized New York as the "City that never sleeps," which is true in the literal sense that many businesses are open 24 hours but also in the figurative sense that you are expected to always be at your best.
The song is written from the perspective of an entertainer who leaves a small town and tries to make it in the city. Instead of obsessing over the difficulties he will face, he embraces the challenges in anticipation of a new life in a vibrant city.
Sinatra is from Hoboken, New Jersey, which is a suburb of New York City. By 1978 he had established himself as a legend in the entertainment industry, and his performance of this song gave it a credibility that no other singer could have brought (Tony Bennett had already aligned himself with San Francisco). Sinatra was very popular in Las Vegas, but he made it clear with this song that you needed to be even better to perform in New York. He carried himself with a swagger and was known as a leader with lots of connections. If anyone could sing about winning, and doing it in style, it was Sinatra.
New York has two major league baseball teams: The Mets and The Yankees. The Mets are considered more of a working-class team and tend to represent areas like Queens, Long Island and to some extent, New Jersey. The Yankees are more associated with Manhattan, which is the hub of activity in New York City. The Yankees consistently have the biggest payroll in baseball and have won the most championships. They, of course, appropriated "New York, New York," which they play after every home game, win or lose.
This was the last hit song Sinatra released. He was one of the most popular singers of the 1940s and 1950s, but took a hit when rock and roll music took hold. Still, he retained an enormous audience that preferred his meticulously crafted orchestral songs to the guitar rock and teen pop that was taking hold. In 1980, he was 64 years old - many decades past most artists on the charts. Still, he cracked the Top 40 with "New York, New York," a song that could have been a hit 30 years earlier. It reached #32 on June 14, 1980.
In 1993, Sinatra recorded this with Tony Bennett for Sinatra's album Duets. In 2006, Michael Bolton covered this for his tribute album Bolton Swings Sinatra.
Sinatra's version was nominated for a Grammy Award for Record Of The Year. It lost to "Sailing" by Christopher Cross. "Someone joked that I beat Sinatra, so I'd better watch my back," Cross told Songfacts.
In February 1985, New York's Mayor Edward I. Koch proclaimed this song as the city's official anthem, though it was never actually made official. The song played at Koch's funeral service in 2013.
Teri Hatcher sang this karaoke style on the TV series Desperate Housewives in the 2005 episode "Move On." Her character, Susan Mayer, also used the opportunity to bash her ex-husband, who was seated in the audience.
Sinatra's estate and the song's publisher aren't too picky about where it appears. One of the bizarre uses was in the 1990 film Gremlins 2: The New Batch, where the evil puppets sing it while wreaking havoc on the city.
Other uses include:
TV Series: Suits ("Teeth, Nose, Teeth" - 2017) Limitless ("Close Encounters" - 2016) Blue Bloods (Pilot - 2010) Damages ("Your Secrets Are Safe" - 2010) The King of Queens ("Catching Hell" - 2005) Arrested Development ("Queen for a Day" - 2005) The Sopranos ("Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood" - 2001) Futurama ("The Lesser of Two Evils" - 2000) The Simpsons ("The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" - 1997) The Incredible Hulk ("Doomed" - 1996) Bosom Buddies ("The Show Must Go On" - 1981)
Movies: Gone Girl (2014) The Other Woman (2014) A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) Moneyball (2011) Shame (2011) Friends with Benefits (2011) Brooklyn Rules (2007) Madagascar (2005) Love Affair (1994) It Could Happen to You (1994) My Blue Heaven (1990) Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) Who's That Girl (1987) Transylvania 6-5000 (1985) Starman (1984) My Funny Valentine (1983)
Released in 1980, this song came 40 years after Sinatra sang "I'll Never Smile Again" with Tommy Dorsey's band, the first #1 hit on Billboard's newly established number-one singles chart (predecessor of the Hot 100).
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 27th 1980, "Theme from New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #76; and on June 8th it peaked at #32 (for 2 weeks) and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100... It reached #54 in the United Kingdom; and when re-leased in the U.K. in 1986 it peaked at #4... May Mr. Sinatra R.I.P. (1915 - 1998).
Austin from Lodi, NjAgreed Brian
Ken from Louisville, KyIronically this is the SECOND "New York, New York" song Sinatra recorded. The first was from the movie musical "On The Town" where he sang a completely different song ("New York, New York, a wonderful town, The Bronx is up and the Battery's down...") with Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin.
Ken from Louisville, KyRobert De Niro was an executive producer on the film and rejected several submissions for the theme song until this one. He felt it captured the movie's "feel" perfectly.
Johnnyk from Central, CtCat Power has a wonderful interpretation of this song on her latest album.....and I like "New York State of Mind" (Ben Sidran version) better as a NYC theme
Jeff from Austin, Txmy all time favorite Karaoke classic
Rick from Chester Twp. , NjNote: Until last season, Frank's version was played at Yankee Stadium at the end of a winning game. They played Liza's version when they lost!
Rick from Chester Twp. , NjCORRECTION!Northern New Jersey, home to both the football Giants and Jets, is predominately Yankee territory. Many players have resided in NJ since it is close to the stadium via the GWB. Yogi Berra has lived in the Montclair area for more than 50 years. The area has a very large Italian-American population (possibly 20+%). My generation idolized Joe DiMaggio. Later Yogi and Phil Rizzuto, who also lived in the Hillside area for more than 50 years. Now we have Derek Jeter...who was born in New Jersey and lived in North Arlington during his pre-school years. In regard to the Mets, we have room for them too. Manager Willie Randolph (a former Yankee) lives in Franklyn Park. NJ is also home to a large percentage of Wall Streeters..excellent commute. One of the reasons that the state has the highest per capita income in the nation.
Rick Busciglio (www.memory-lane.org)
Mark from Lancaster, OhThis is one of those famous pieces of recorded music in which they left the mistakes in: Mr Sinatra seems to have lost track of the lyrics somewhere toward the end. Doesn't matter: it's Frank Sinatra, and he can do what he wants.
Brian from New York, NyThe Yankees represent ALL of New York. Not just Manhattan. Most people from New York root for the Yankees. Also, Jersey is Yankee territory and most of my family from Long Island roots for the Yankees. You're basically a loser if you root for the Mets!