"Hail to the taxis, they go where I go ." As long as we're rock nyc, here is an nyc song which doesn't rock, it swings, and lands way above "Empire State Of Mind", if not in "New York State Of Mind" territory.
Elvis Costello wrote it for his North wedding album. A hugely underestimated piece of smooth, sexy jazz, in tribute to his Northern (Canadian, actually) girl Diana Krall.
Written in a form he is no expert at, and trounced by the critics for that, it does exactly what it says it will: it takes you on a journey from a broken marriage to a new love, using strings and bows, by mostly his soon to be wife's instrument of choice, piano. It is easy to dismiss North. What misses, really misses, stuff like the opening "You Miss Me In The Dark" are so snootly composerly. The first seven songs are classical more than jazz, and really quite depressing and then suddenly, the darkness lifts and you are at "Let Me Tell You About Her". For the next four tracks the light comes on and doesn't go out through to the joyous conclusion.
It is similar to Vladimir Nabakov's trick in "Look At The Harlequin" in which he imagines his life if he had never met his beloved wife Vera and the book isn't very good, then, once he does meet her, the book blooms with the sort of language only peak Nabakov can provide "I'm not very conversational, except to say that you're sensational", Costello sings about their meeting. A wonderful rhyme, an Ira Gershwin rhyme. Suddenly everything is fitting into place.
"I'm In The Mood Again", the albums final song, is better. A ridiculously good song, almost wistfully good. Costello is walking the streets of Manhattan going back to his hotel late at night and he is thinking of Krall, "I walk the damp streets rather than slumber" and everything about Manhattan takes on a sheen, a rhyme, the words float off his tongue in poetic grace and a deep, almost overwhelming joy, fills hi..Just a piano accompanies his walk home and yet Manhattan is as transformed for him as he is for us.
At the end of the song he is laying in bed looking at the "Empire State Building illuminating the sky" and the emptional horrors that had plagued him have disappeared.