Fabulous, wide-ranging article on the eclectic sounds of NYC and the city that gave them life. I really must try to pick up this issue in print.
New York is a place of splendor and squalor, and its music reflects those extremes. The city’s leanest times have produced some of its most opulent music. Think of Cole Porter’s Depression-era ballads, songs like “Night and Day” (1932) and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (1936), gleaming Deco objets d’art that sound like they were airdropped from Porter’s suite at the Waldorf. Or think of Chic’s luscious “Good Times” (1979), written by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards at the height of the disco era and the depth of the city’s 1970s unraveling, as a deliberate callback to another Great Depression hit, “Happy Days Are Here Again.” New York’s deprivations have driven music in other ways. Punk was not just a stripped-down revolt against the excesses of corporate rock, but a reflection of local woes, an ascetic response to ’70s stagflation and crime. As for hip-hop, it, too, grew out of scarcity, and triumphed over it. Hip-hop was music of junkyard recycling: The original South Bronx hip-hop street parties were powered by plugging sound systems into the base of street lamps, and the music ingeniously repurposed cheap technologies, turning vinyl records and turntables from musical-playback devices into musical instruments.
Here's a great cover (I think there's a variety) for the magazine, featuring a young Robert Zimmerman.