Gabriela Rangel Cardozo
Ballads, Beats, and Band camp
December 2, 2016
How New York State of Mind helped New York
Picture of the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in NY
On September 11, 2001, the country suffered a terrorist attack. Many people died. Many people injured. Many people had their hopes and dreams crushed. A place which was known for its rude people, was experiencing love from every direction. People have this sense of pride and love towards the state they are from. Something that helped them spread that love was music. One of the songs that helped people at this time was New York State of Mind by Billy Joel. The song was released in 1976 on the Turnstiles album. It was never released as a single. New York State of Mind was written and produced by Billy Joel. It was recorded at Ultra Sonic Studio Hempstead, NY under the label Columbia. After returning to New York after living in California for 4 years, Joel decided to write this song about his love for New York, since he missed it after being away for a long time. In an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Joel said that he was literally on the Greyhound bus on the Hudson River Line when the idea for the song came to him, and the song was finished as soon as he arrived home. The lyrics, the instruments, and rhythm, of the song had a great impact on the listener’s emotions after the 9/11 attacks.
The lyrics of New York State of Mind have a powerful meaning.
Turnstiles Album cover
They demonstrate a man saying how much he loves his home state. According to song critic Stewart Mason “the lyrics are among Joel’s finest”. Having such meaningful and personal lyrics, the song became one of Joel’s more popular songs. Stewart Mason also said that the song was “worthy of some of the best pre-rock composers of pop standards in their juxtaposition of concrete real-world details and more impressionistic washes of emotion”. A line in the song is “Hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood” which he follows with “but I’m takin’ a Greyhound on the Hudson River line I’m in a New York state of mind”. By mentioning that some people would rather go on these expensive and luxurious vacations, shows the listener how much he loves his home state because he is saying that instead of doing what everyone else wants to do he would rather stay in New York and be happy in a place he loves. This connected with the people who were affected by 9/11 because his lyrics showed this pride in being from New York, which is what these people were feeling. Although the lyrics in this song were a huge part of why the public loved the song it wasn’t the only factor that made this song a hit. Something that the lyrics complimented well with was the music or the instruments used.
The actual music of the song is very captivating. The listeners immediately get hooked when Joel starts to play the 56 second piano solo in the beginning of the song. Billy Joel is known for his piano playing. Most of his greatest hits have him playing piano in them, for example, Piano Man, Movin’ Out, My Life, Just The Way You Are. Another instrument that was used in the song was a saxophone. Richie Cannata has a saxophone solo right in the middle of the song. This solo helps bring together that slow tempo that is played throughout the whole song. With having a slower tempo, the lyrics were emphasized more because the listener could hear and understand each lyric that was sung by Joel. Also, the listener was able to get in that mood that Billy Joel was in when he was writing and singing the song. This built a connection between Joel and the listener. With this combination of lyrics, music, and rhythm, no wonder it became such a hit and one of Billy Joel’s most popular songs.
The Concert for New York City advertisement picture
Some people like Glenn Gamboa, a writer for newsday.com, believe that the song has a different meaning today than it had when it was first released. Glenn Gamboa mentioned that “after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it took on a whole new meaning. It captured what had been lost and chronicled what remained.” When the terrorist attacks happened on September 11, 2001 the country was scared and held on to anything that comforted them. This included music because music helps the body release endorphin which counteract pain. Music with slow tempos, like this song, help slow down breathing and heart rate, which can help with anxiety. This song helped many people remember how much they loved their state. Being in a “New York state of mind” is what needed people to be in at that time. The state had just suffered a great loss and people were devastated and they needed to be reminded of how great New York was. After 9/11 the song reached a whole new respect and popularity. Billy Joel was even asked to play the song at The Concert for New York City in October of 2001, a benefit concert for the New York City Fire and Police Departments and the families of the first respondents lost on 9/11. Which proves how much the song was loved during that time.
By having prideful and personal lyrics and a slower tempo the song was able to help in the healing process after 9/11. The song New York State of Mind by Billy Joel, although not being released as a single, was always a fan favorite and now has become one of Joel’s most popular songs. The lyrics were meaningful and showed a lot about Billy Joel’s love toward New York. Being paired with a powerful piano solo and a stand out saxophone solo, helped the lyrics become very personal and build that slow tempo. This helped the listener connect more to the song and helped Joel portray his feeling more. This is why the song became a big factor in the comforting of the people of New York after the 9/11 attack. Overall the song is a famous, well-known piece and will keep on being one of Billy Joel’s best works.
“Readers’ Poll: The Best Billy Joel Songs of All Time.” Rolling Stone. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
“How Music Affects Us and Promotes Health.” Surprising Effects Of Music. Health on the Net Foundation, 18 Feb. 2016. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
Billy Joel interview. YouTube. The Howard Stern Show.
“New York State Of Mind by Billy Joel Songfacts.” New York State Of Mind by Billy Joel Songfacts. Songfacts®, LLC, 2016. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.
Dean, Maury (2003). Rock N’ Roll Gold Rush. Algora. p. 309. ISBN 0-87586-207-1.
Mason, Stewart. “Billy Joel New York State of MInd.” www.allmusic.com. ©2016 AllMusic, Member of the RhythmOne Group, 2016. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.
Biography.com Editors. “Billy Joel Biography.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, 27 Apr. 2016. Web. 01 Oct. 2016.
Gamboa, Glenn. “Billy Joel’s 14 Best Songs.” Newsday. Newsday, 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.