May Playlist: I Want to Be a Part of It

Music has a unique power to define a place or time for us, providing a soundtrack to a certain period in our lives or a place we used to know. There are bands and songs that take us back to childhood car rides or high school dances, late nights in a dorm room or unpacking boxes in a new apartment, the cobblestone streets of Prague and a certain rocky beach in the south of France. And so when we were coming up with the questions for our Just Folks questionnaire, we knew we wanted to ask people about the songs that held meaning for them. New York makes a lot of appearances in lyrics or titles, so some of the associations were easy — Zelda loves “On Broadway,” Scout has a soft spot for Billy Joel, we both know all the words to “NYC”— but we wanted to know about the more personal connections. Which songs define your New York? Here’s what you said.

Thank You, Lord, for Sending Me the F Train: Mike DoughtySarah Sheppard, from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “The longer I live in Brooklyn, the more this song makes sense.”

Jazz (We’ve Got)A Tribe Called QuestKatie Beth White, from Louisville, Kentucky.

I and Love and You: The Avett BrothersStephanie Walker, from Austin, Texas. “It makes me think of New York mostly because the lyrics are literally ‘Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in,’ but I also really identify with the references to the sacrifices one sometimes makes in moving here and trying to make it work. The things you miss but also the things you want to move on from.”

Money: John Kander and Fred Ebb (from Cabaret) – Candace Bryan, from Memphis, Tennessee.

So Far Around The Bend: The NationalAnita Badejo, from Mountain Home, Arkansas (via Lubbock, Texas via Debrecen, Hungary). “I’ve always listened to this song when flying back to NYC. The line ‘There is no leaving New York,’ slays me.”

Rhapsody in Blue: George GershwinJohn Corrales, from Odessa, Texas.

New York: The Milk Carton KidsJennifer Harlan, from Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s slow and it’s sweet and it’s sad. It’ll break your heart but it’s also beautiful, and you can’t seem to tear yourself away.”

The entire soundtrack to When Harry Met Sally: Harry Connick, Jr. – Mary Lane Haskell, from Oxford, Mississippi.

Empire State of Mind: Jay-Z feat. Alicia KeysJoanna Futral, from Atlanta, Georgia and Katherine Hurt, from Pikeville, Kentucky. “It came out the year I moved to New York, so that’s my jam. It makes me emotional every time I hear it.”

Bright Lights Bigger City: Cee Lo GreenPatrick Cox, from Lebanon, Kentucky.

Working For the MTA: Justin Townes EarleLuke, from Sevierville, Tennessee. “We saw him at City Winery during my early days here; plus, like me, he very much identifies with Tennessee and moving to New York from there.”

Do My Thing: Estelle feat. Janelle MonáeCourtney Towner, from Amarillo, Texas.

Street Trash: HuntersKatie Levy, from Louisville, Kentucky. “Not because of the lyrics or anything, just the sound.”

Famous Flower of Manhattan: The Avett BrothersKatie Warden, from Deland, Florida, and Kelsey Goldman, from Louisville, Kentucky. “I think I always connected with the narrative — that a little bit of beauty and nature could exist anywhere, even between the cracks of Manhattan concrete.”

As always, you can listen along here, or we’re on YouTube and Spotify.

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