Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

On “New York, I Love You” and being alone, sad, and broke in the Big Apple

Illustration for article titled On “New York, I Love You” and being alone, sad, and broke in the Big Apple

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re picking songs about living in the city.

Though I grew up in the Cleveland suburbs, I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life living in the city. I live in Chicago now, obviously, but I spent a couple of years right after college living in New York, where, although used to living in tight, shitty spaces on garbage food, I just couldn’t really figure out how to live on $21,000 a year—minus taxes. Years later, people ask me, “Oh, gosh, what were your favorite restaurants in New York?” or, “Did you go to this club or that club?” I can pretty much only say that I really liked this pizza place by my apartment that put sesame seeds on the crust and charged under $2 for a slice, and that sometimes, as a treat, I’d hit up Chinatown for some really cheap sesame pancakes.

I think that struggle to survive in the big city—something that I still deal with now to some extent, lest you think The A.V. Club is making us all multi-millionaires—is one of the things that drew me to LCD Soundsystem’s “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” Though it’s really a song about how the city’s cleaned up nature is becoming irksome to James Murphy (a subject, again, I can certainly understand in Chicago, especially in my neighborhood, where dive bars are rapidly becoming craft cocktail emporiums stocked with velvet couches), I’ve always assigned more of a sentimental spin to the track, remembering all the times I really struggled to find happiness in New York, either because of money or because of the lackluster relationship I was in at the time. And so while I love New York—seriously, its selection of Uniqlos, Momofuku outlets, and bagel shops really cannot be beat—there is something about the city that always makes me a little melancholy after a few days there. Maybe it’s because I never really made the city my own, even after I was there for a while. Or maybe, like Murphy, I’m more attracted to the concept of “old” New York than I am the current slick and crowded metropolis. Either way, “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” has always struck a chord somewhere deep inside my musical heart, reminding me of not only the sad, lonely, and broke years I spent living in the big city, but also (hopefully) serving to make me just a little bit more optimistic about my life elsewhere, now and in the future.

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