All the songs in 'New York, New York' on Broadway
The show’s score is a musical melting pot of classic tunes by John Kander and Fred Ebb, plus new songs by Kander and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
New York, New York, the nine-time Tony-nominated Broadway musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb, draws loosely from the same-named 1977 Martin Scorsese movie starring Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro. As in the film, the stage story by David Thompson and Sharon Washington takes place in 1946 in NYC. The war is over! Time for dreams as big as the city.
Like the group of aspiring performers in director-choreographer Susan Stroman’s production, the songs are diverse, both in how they impact the mood and in their origins.
The musical’s score features songs from the film and from earlier collaborations with the legendary songwriting duo Kander and Ebb, the latter of whom died in 2004. In addition, Kander wrote some new songs on his own and collaborated with Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda on a few tunes. It figures that a show called New York, New York would be a musical melting pot.
Learn more about the songs in our guide and then listen up firsthand at the show.
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“Cheering for Me Now”
Kander and Miranda’s happy, hummable curtain-raiser gets the show off on an optimistic beat as characters sing about the city where anything and everything is possible. Elsewhere people are “safe in their sameness, they’re scared of what’s strange.” But not in NYC, where “life can change.”
Three’s a charm. Major chords are composed of three notes and are sometimes called “happy chords.” Kander’s lively solo composition nods to that as a young musician, Jimmy Doyle, belts that New York offers music, money, and love – a major chord waiting to happen.
“Better Than Before”
World War II is in the rearview. Madame Veltri, a landlady and music teacher who formerly was a busy performer, observes the shadow lifting around her in Kander’s yearning song. That’s true for the world around her and for budding relationships.
“One of the Smart Ones”
“You won’t find me tied down to some boozy old slob who’s chronically out of a job. Not me.” Francine, an ex-USO singer from Philadelphia who seeks success in NYC, belts this brassy and fittingly self-referential number near a newsstand. ("Start spreading the news" — get it?) Kander and Ebb wrote the song in the early 1960s for Golden Gate, an unproduced show.
“Look all around you, there’s sights to behold. I’m gonna work ’til I find it – pure gold.” Mateo Diaz, a percussionist from Cuba scratching out a living, searches for NYC’s gilded lining in this buoyant song by Kander and Miranda.
“Wine and Peaches”
“A little sweet, a little tart.” The lyric suggests the notion of balance, and that fits a delightful scene with construction workers on a skyscraper girder perfectly. Kander and Ebb wrote the tune for the 1984 musical The Rink, but it was cut.
“I Love Music”
Jimmy and Francine search for a shared passion, and they land on a mutual love of music in this peppy number. The song was from Kander and Ebb’s Wait For Me, World, an unproduced 1970s Horatio Alger musical.
“My Own Music”
“I draw my own pictures, I see the world through my own eyes. And if someone don’t buy it or just wants to criticize – well!” A spirited ode to uncompromising individuality, the song by Kander and Miranda speaks universally.
“I’m What's Happening Now”
Francine sings this tune whose title speaks for itself in a restaurant where she works. “Even in the Outer Hebrides, locals know of new celebrities. And they’ll tell you, I’m what’s happening now.” The song was also cut from The Rink.
“A Simple Thing Like That”
A tiny random event like a pebble dropping in the sea has ripple effects that grow in ways you can’t predict – or prevent. The same goes for the sound of a voice or an instrument, which can echo. This touching song, reprised in Act 2, is from Golden Gate.
“Can You Hear Me?”
“Could I ever be a part of the song inside your heart? But sincerely, can you hear me?” The sweet Kander and Miranda song speaks to the challenge of two people bridging a gap and truly connecting.
“Happy Endings/Let's Hear It for Me”
Savoring the giddy rush of success is what these two Kander and Ebb songs are about. The former was chopped from the original release of the New York, New York film but restored in the director’s cut in 1981. The latter exhilarating earworm is from Funny Lady, the big-screen sequel to Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand.
Lyrics don’t get more plainspoken than that in this tenderly insistent Kander and Ebb tune that changes the course of Jimmy and Francine’s lives. The song is from The Rink — Jason Alexander crooned it on Broadway pre-Seinfeld.
“Along Comes Love”
The thing about love is that it can surprise – you don’t see it coming. That’s the simple, and oh-so-true, message in this Kander and Ebb tune.
“San Juan Supper Club”
At a nightspot that becomes a pivotal part of Jimmy’s life, he grooves on the piano alongside Mateo, who pounds out the beat, and trumpeter Jesse Webb.
“There are no exploding fireworks — where’s the roaring of the crowds?” The song is a wistful wakeup call about the nature of love. It’s from Kander and Ebb’s first Broadway show, Flora, the Red Menace, which made Liza Minnelli a star. (An Off-Broadway revival later gave Stroman her big break in choreography.)
“Sorry I Asked”
“Is he handsome? Or let me put it this way, do you love him? Sorry I asked.” The achey song underscores the cracks in a married couple’s relationship. Minnelli immortalized the Kander and Ebb tune in a 1992 concert at Radio City Music Hall.
“But the World Goes ’Round”
“Sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re sad, but the world goes ’round.” The bottom line: Life turns on a dime, and you have to do likewise to keep up with it. That resonates for a couple facing big changes. The Kander and Ebb song is one of the most famous tunes from the New York, New York movie.
“Music, Money, Love”
Kander’s vibrant song focuses on the major chord outlined in an earlier song: music, money, love. Unless you’ve got all three, especially love, the magic isn’t quite there.
Seeing the light – literally and figuratively – can change things dramatically. So it goes in this rousing song by Kander and Miranda.
“New York, New York”
Save the best – and the best-known – for last. The Kander and Ebb classic anthem from the movie New York, New York is a hymn to the city, to new new starts, and to perseverance. Come on, come through, indeed, to hear it live!
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