New York is famously described as a city with a million stories.
Of course, like so many folks, the books I'd read about New York, ( El Doctorow's Ragtime, Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's and Patti Smith's Just Kids for example), had created a literary map New York in my imagination. When I was living and working in NYC I used that map had me exploring the cobblestone alley's, down into the subways and out onto the grand avenues as I wrote the material that would become "New York Stories". The influence of literature is obvious with each song acting like a chapter like a book of interweaving short stories designed to take the listener on a romantic journey describing a love story amongst the swirl of life in Manhattan.
A literary approach comes very naturally to me as a songwriter given that I was raised in a house filled with books and music in Toronto's Annex which, much like the West Village, was an area of town filled with Professors, Activists, Artists and Independent thinkers such as our mom author Lilly Barnes, who raised us in three story victorian home filled floor to ceiling with books. So, as I was discovering the music of Billie Holiday, Tom Waits, Laura Nyro and Tony Bennett I was absorbing the short stories of Mavis Gallant and Alice Munro and a literary tradition that asks the author to describe an entire universe in only a few pages. Perfect for a budding songwriter looking to create a new musical universe of his own!
Of course the two romances at the heart of "New York Stories" are very real, both the romance of the lovers and the romance with New York City itself. New York becomes a character in of itself, a bustling metropolis so crowded that one never feels lonely or alone, but welcomed by the city to re create one's own story at every corner of the city of a million st
Two collections of short stories set in NYC that I can heartily recommend are "Wonderful Town", a collection of New Yorker stories edited by David Remnick and the Every Man Pocket Classics "New York Stories" both of which I discovered after the release of the disc but happily reread from time to time..