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"Theme from New York, New York" (or "New York, New York") is the theme song from the Martin Scorsese film New York, New York (1977), composed by John Kander, with lyrics by Fred Ebb. It was written for and performed in the film by Liza Minnelli. It remains one of the best-known songs about New York City. In 2004 it finished #31 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American Cinema.

"Theme from New York, New York"
Liza Minnelli New York New York single cover.jpg
Yugoslavian vinyl single
Single by Liza Minnelli
from the album New York, New York
ReleasedJune 21, 1977
GenreTraditional pop
Songwriter(s)Fred Ebb, John Kander
"Theme from New York, New York"
New York Frank Sinatra.jpg
Single by Frank Sinatra
from the album Trilogy: Past Present Future
B-side"That's What God Looks Like to Me"
ReleasedApril 1980
Format7" single
Songwriter(s)Fred Ebb, John Kander
Producer(s)Sonny Burke
Frank Sinatra singles chronology
"Night and Day"
"Theme from New York, New York"
"You and Me (We Wanted It All)"


In 1979, "Theme from New York, New York" was re-recorded by Frank Sinatra for his album Trilogy: Past Present Future (1980), and has since become closely associated with him. He occasionally performed it live with Minnelli as a duet. Sinatra recorded it a second time for his 1993 album Duets, with Tony Bennett.

The first line of the song is:

Start spreadin' the news, I'm leaving today
I want to be a part of it: New York, New York.

Within are two similar lines:[1]

  • I wanna wake up in a city that doesn't sleep
  • I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps

The song concludes with the line:

If I can make it there, I'm gonna make it anywhere,
It's up to you, New York, New York.

Minnelli's original recording of the song (also used in the Tony Bennett version in Duets) uses the following closing line:

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere,
Come on come through, New York, New York.

It should not be confused with the song "New York, New York", from Leonard Bernstein/Adolph Green/Betty Comden's musical On the Town (1944), which features the lyric "New York, New York, it’s a helluva town / The Bronx is up and the Battery's down..."

Composers Kander and Ebb stated on the A&E Biography episode about Liza Minnelli, that they attribute the song's success to actor Robert De Niro, who rejected their original theme for the film because he thought it was "too weak".

The song did not become a popular hit until it was picked up in concert by Frank Sinatra during his performances at Radio City Music Hall in October 1978. (It was not even nominated for the Academy Award for 'Best Song'). Subsequently, Sinatra recorded it in 1979 for his 1980 Trilogy set (Reprise Records), and it became one of his signature songs. The single peaked at #32 in June 1980, becoming his final Top Forty charting hit. It was also an Adult Contemporary hit, reaching #10 in the US[2] and #2 in Canada.[3] The song made a minor showing in the UK (#59), however, it recharted several years later and reached #4 in 1986. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Sinatra made two more studio recordings of the song in 1981 (for his NBC TV special The Man and His Music) and 1993 (for Capitol Records). From the latter, an electronic duet with Tony Bennett was produced for Sinatra's Duets album.

The lyrics of the Sinatra versions differ slightly from Ebb's original lyrics. Notably, the phrase "A-number-one", which does not appear at all in the original lyrics, is sung twice at the song's rallentando climax. (Ebb has said he "didn't even like" Sinatra's use of "A-number-one").[4] The phrase is both the first and fourth on a list of three superlative titles the singer strives to achieve — "A-number-one, top of the list, king of the hill, A-number-one" — where Ebb's original lyrics (performed by Minnelli) were "king of the hill, head of the list, cream of the crop, at the top of the heap."

Despite Sinatra's version becoming more familiar, original singer Minnelli had two of the tune's most memorable live performances – during the July 4, 1986 ceremony marking the rededication of the Statue of Liberty after extensive renovations, and in the middle of the seventh inning at Shea Stadium during a New York Mets game, that was the first pro sports event in the metro area after the September 11, 2001 attacks. She also sang it at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the 1984 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, accompanied by 24 pianos and strobe lights.

Chart historyEdit

Liza Minnelli version
Chart (1977) Peak
US Billboard Bubbling Under the Hot 100[5] 104
Frank Sinatra version


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[12] Silver 250,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

In popular cultureEdit

The song has been embraced as a celebration of New York City, and is often heard at New York City social events, such as weddings and bar mitzvahs. Many sports teams in New York City have played this song in their arenas/stadiums, but the New York Yankees are the most prominent example. It has been played over the loudspeakers at both the original and current Yankee Stadiums at the end of every Yankee home game since July 1980. Originally, Sinatra's version was played after a Yankees win, and the Minnelli version after a loss.[13] However, due to a complaint from Minnelli, the Sinatra version is now heard regardless of the game's outcome.[14] As of the 2005 season, at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark following Staten Island Yankees games, the Sinatra version is heard regardless of the game's outcome, and was formerly done at Shea Stadium at the end of New York Mets games after the September 11, 2001 attack. Previously, Mets fans felt it was a "Yankee song", and began booing it when it was played. It actually first had snippets of the song played after World Series home runs by Ray Knight and Darryl Strawberry during Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. The song is also sometimes played at New York Knicks games. The Sinatra version is played at the end of every New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. It was played at the opening faceoff of Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals at the Garden.[15] The song has also been the post parade song for the Belmont Stakes from 1997 to 2009,[16] and again from 2011 to the present.[17] Sinatra's version of the song has been played at the end of all four Super Bowls that the New York Giants have won to date, as well as before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII, while Minnelli's version was heard after the Giants' Super Bowl XXXV loss.

The song was the musical basis for Jimmy Picker's 1983 three-minute animated short, Sundae in New York, which won the Oscar for Best Short Film (Animated) that year, with a likeness of then-mayor Ed Koch somewhat stumbling through the song, with clay caricatures of New York-based celebrities (including Alfred E. Neuman) and finishing the song with "Basically, I think New York is very therapeutic. Hey, an apple a day is... uh... great for one's constitution!" and burying his face in a big banana split with "THE END" written on his bald head. (Koch used the same rallentando climax Sinatra used, albeit with one big difference: "A-number one, top of the list, king of the hill..." followed by his impression of Groucho Marx completing, "...and incidentally a heckuva nice guy!")[18]

An instrumental version of the song is used as the main theme music for NBC's broadcasts of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Frank Sinatra version is also played during the annual Times Square New Year's Day celebrations, immediately after "Auld Lang Syne" and the ball drop that signifies the new year.[19]

Mexico's top singer José José recorded the song in Spanish.

Queen covered the song for the 1986 fantasy film Highlander. Unlike the other songs recorded for the film, it has never appeared on a Queen album.

The song is performed by Brain Gremlin (voice provided by Tony Randall) in the 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch.

In Arrested Development episode 8 of season 2, which aired in January 2005, Tobias, played by David Cross, starts singing the song in his newly bought club. Lucille 2, played by Liza Minnelli, who's in the audience comments "Everyone thinks they're Frank Sinatra."

In DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar (2005), the song is introduced in Central Park Zoo, and Marty later sings the song in the midst of Alex the Lion's delirium.[20]

In the series premiere of the popular CBS crime-drama series Blue Bloods, back in 2010, the song is playing while Jamie is walking out in front of his family while about to graduate from the police academy and when they throw their hats.

In 2013, the song was played at the funeral of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.[21]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "New York, New York".
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 221.
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1980-07-05. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  4. ^ NPR: 'New York, New York', Present at the Creation
  5. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  6. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1980-07-05. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  7. ^ "Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  8. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 221.
  10. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, July 5, 1980
  11. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – New York, New York". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  12. ^ "British single certifications – Frank Sinatra – New York New York". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 25, 2013. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type New York New York in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  13. ^ "Stadium Songs: New York Yankees". 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
  14. ^ "10 Facts About Yankee Stadium". 2008-09-23. Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  15. ^ Hockey Night in Canada: Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals (television). CBC. 1994-06-14. And Bob (Cole), they're hollering out all the artillery just for you, Sinatra, before the opening faceoff. It can't get any better than that for an excitement standpoint. Dick Irvin, Jr. told Bob Cole just before the opening faceoff, when Sinatra's song was played over the PA system.
  16. ^ "Belmont Stakes Traditions". 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
  17. ^ "Sinatra's voice returns to Belmont Stakes". Associated Press. June 4, 2011. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  18. ^ "Sundae in New York video". Retrieved 2014-04-17.
  19. ^ Ball Drop 2011 on YouTube
  20. ^ Laurie, Timothy (2015), "Becoming-Animal Is A Trap For Humans", Deleuze and the Non-Human eds. Hannah Stark and Jon Roffe.
  21. ^ "Ed Koch funeral: Former mayor's coffin exits to 'New York, New York'",, 2013

External linksEdit