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By Mahnuel Muñoz

It is 44 years since the release of Sinatra’s version of “(Theme From) New York, New York.” Throughout these years, it has naturally been accepted as the unofficial anthem of the city and its baseball team. But in 2020 it reached an even more transcendent status: the “Big Apple“, hit like so many other cities in the world by Covid-19, turned the song into a chant of support for all the people fighting the virus on the front lines of fire. New Yorkers go out to their windows and balconies to applauded the flesh and blood heroes and sing “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra, declaring in the most beautiful way possible that the city and its inhabitants were a single living entity in struggle with a war cry: “It’s up yo you, New York, New York


The prestigious music critic Will Friedwald, author of the essential book “Sinatra! The Song Is You“, wrote:

Sung by Liza Minnelli, it is the typical song to hum. In the hands – or rather, the tonsils – of Sinatra, it exemplifies anger and optimism, ambition and aggression, hostility and energy, excitement and excrement that is New York.”

And so it is. The song is the city and vice versa. And the song is what it is thanks to Sinatra.

The song came into Sinatra’s hands through Frank Military, who had been one of his trusted men during his time at Capitol Records.

I sent him the song, and he told me he would listen to it. I was calling his secretary to find out what was happening and he told me ‘He has it on. He’s getting it.’ It took him a little while, but he got it in the end, and now it’s probably the most famous thing he’s ever done.”

Written by Fred Ebb and John Kander for Liza Minnelli in 1977, within the soundtrack of the forgotten musical “New York, New York” by Martin Scorsese, it would not be the first with that title associated with Sinatra; That honor goes to the one he sang with Gene Kelly in the film “On The Town” (1949). In some concerts, Frank began the song with the verses “New York, New York, is a hell of a town…” from the piece by Bernstein, Comden and Green and then continued with the classic that we all know.


Sinatra began singing “New York, New York” live around October 1978, almost a year before recording it in the studio. Initially he used it as the opening song, and the approach was slower and less intense, but as the audience’s enthusiasm increased and Frank visceralized his interpretation, the song was repositioned in the middle or at the end of the recitals. . When Frank felt satisfied with his version, he recorded it with some perfect arrangements by Don Costa to include it in the album “Trilogy“, and incidentally, in the emotional soundtrack of millions of lives inside and outside the “Big Apple“. It is curious the effect of almost patriotic inflammation that this song provokes in audiences around the world. Maybe it’s not strictly about New York, maybe it’s about humanity; That’s why we rise to our feet when Sinatra launches the powerful, long final note.

The song reflects the thoughts that must have crossed Frankie’s head when, as a child dazzled by fame, he took his first ferry that took him from Hoboken to New York to try his luck in radio stations and theaters.

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