Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Native New Yorker" Odyssey

“Native New Yorker” is sad but beautiful disco song. For some reason it only hit number 21 on the Billboard charts and Odyssey, the group that recorded it, never became a household name. Stranger still, it was not meant to be a disco song (and Odyssey, was not originally a disco group). It was written by Sandy Linzer for Frankie Valli. One could say it’s the sequel to “Dancing Queen.” It’s what happens to a girl who never finds her king on the dance floor.

Unlike the Dancing Queen who is “only seventeen”, the Native New Yorker is “twenty-five, thirty-five, hello baby.” Either she is a composite of several girls, she lies about her age or she is ageless. Movement itself plays a huge part in the song, from the ambulatory bass line that struts throughout the song to the lyrics themselves. She is “running pretty”, “riding the subways,” “up in Harlem, down on Broadway”. Yet for all this running around she has never left New York City or found love. This makes her “the heart and soul of New York City.”

The song slows down for a moment for the word “love” as sung by lead vocalist Virgin Island-born Lillian Lopez. But then she movement continues as it’s explained that this love is “just a passing word / It's the thought that you had in a taxi cab that got left on the curb / When he dropped you off at east eighty-third.” The chorus explains that this sort of on-the-go lifestyle makes her a “native New Yorker” and that she should “know the score by now” having lived in the city all her life. Harsh. Eventually our heroine, no longer the star of the “Broadway show” in her mind is watching people couple off at a disco, dreams of finding “someone to set [her] free from New York City.”

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