PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: The Meeting*'s Justin Sayre, Joe Iconis, Jake Boyd and Michael Musto Pick NYC Favorites
By Michael Gioia
"Smash" songwriter Joe Iconis, Rock of Ages' Jake Boyd and columnist Michael Musto are among the guests at the Aug. 28 installment of The Meeting*, hosted by Justin Sayre. In celebration of this month's theme, "Sex and the City," the foursome picks their favorite New York City songs as part of Playbill.com's Playbill Playlist.
Known for it "signature blend of outrageous comedy, politics, culture and everything in between," this month's edition of The Meeting*, held at 9:30 PM, celebrates the TV series "Sex and the City" with special guests Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins (Jelly's Last Jam), columnist Musto, songwriter Iconis ("Smash," The Black Suites) and Boyd (Rock of Ages). Tracy Stark serves as music director.
According to press notes, "Each month, the I.O.S gathers to honor an artist or a cultural work that is iconic to the gay community. Justin Sayre – the show's creator, writer and host – serves as the Chairman of the Board of the International Order of Sodomites and brings his singular wit to essential business of the day through such regular features such as 'Letters to the Chairman' and 'New Rulings from the Board.'"
In celebration of this month's Meeting*, Playbill.com asked Iconis, Boyd, Musto and host Sayre to pick their favorite songs representing New York City and tell us why they made the list.
The remainder of the show's 2013 season will feature tributes to Liza Minnelli (Sept. 25), Dreamgirls (Oct. 30) and Grey Gardens (Nov. 20) along with the annual Holiday Spectacular (Dec. 18). The Meeting* is produced by and Dan Fortune and Adam J. Rosen.
Justin Sayre: "Running Up That Hill" (Kiki and Herb) This is my New York. Seeing the brilliance that is Justin Vivian Bond and Kenny Mellman changed my life as an artist. This song, in particular, after all the city had been through, hit me like a ton of bricks.
Justin Sayre: "Cigarettes Cigars" (Jackie Curtis) An idol of mine singing a song about making it on "the Broadway." Jackie Curtis was a true New York original.
Justin Sayre: "New York State of Mind" (Mel Torme) In high school, I worked in a coffee shop, and every night I would sweep the floor and listen to this song. New York was my dream, and one day I was going to get there.
Justin Sayre: "I'm a Bad Woman" (Julie Wilson) The Voice, the Gardenia… It's all there, and it's all New York. The truth in her voice is the truth of New York. It's lived in, gritty and incredibly warm. I adore her.
Michael Musto: "New York, New York" (Liza Minnelli) Why? Because I'm a gay man, OK? And, as such, I've never actually been aware of any other version of this song. No, really.
Michael Musto: "My Personal Property" from Sweet Charity. Haven't we all occasionally felt a surge of possessive pride that makes us feel, "The Planetarium is mine alone/The old aquarium I also own"? …Until a City Bike rider knocks us over. Anyway, Shirley MacLaine did a persuasive job with this song. She owned that movie.
Michael Musto: "N.Y.C." from Annie. A chirpy, brassy, Broadway-style tribute to our great city, which climaxes with an actress playing an actress hitting some incredible high notes. I expect Jay-Z to sample it some time soon.
Michael Musto: "Walk on the Wild Side" (Lou Reed) …Because anyone who thinks I'd complete my list without a reference to drag queens, transsexuals, hustlers and oral sex doesn't know me — or NYC!
Joe Iconis: "Heart of Glass" (Blondie) "Heart of Glass" never specifically mentions our fair city, but to me it's the ultimate New York song by the ultimate New York band. Just the idea of a rock band with a punk spirit stepping outside their comfort zone to cut a silly disco record, and creating an accidental masterpiece in the process, is so New York. The record is filled with so much attitude and swagger, but it's also shimmery and weird and kind of otherworldly. Not to mention that I've always thought that "Heart Of Glass" is set to the tempo that every true New Yorker naturally walks at.
Joe Iconis: "Across 110th Street" (Bobbie Womack) While there are so many great songs about specific New York locales (Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel No. 2," Fountains of Wayne's "Laser Show," and, ya know, "New York, New York"), few so immediately take you to a time and a place as much as this one. It's impossible to listen and not to conjure up a vision of 70s New York, as filtered through a broken projector onto a filthy screen at the Selwyn on 42nd Street. Mind the rats.
Joe Iconis: "New York Is The Worst" (Michael R. Jackson) Michael R. Jackson is one of the best writers working today. He writes musical theatre stuff and other stuff, and I am just out of my mind for all of it. Here's his song about New York. Required listening if you're interested in both sides of the coin. I love the city more than anything, but I completely relate to this song.
Joe Iconis: "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" (Ramones) I think the majority of The Ramones songs are about the five boroughs. "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" is my favorite because it's not really about New York, but about coming to New York… About splitting the suburbs, getting on the LIRR, and entering the world of The City. It's simple and perfect and hard-edged and big-hearted. I feel cooler whenever I listen to it, and it tricks me into feeling nostalgic for a teenage experience I absolutely never had but always kind of wanted. Which, I guess is kind of the point of whole thing. After all, Sheena is a punk rocker. Now.
Jake Boyd: "New York State of Mind" (Billy Joel) Is there even a better New York song than this? I have a playlist called "NYC" in my iTunes that I made when I moved to the city and this is the first song on it. Whenever I get disillusioned about the big, bad Apple I like to play this song and remind myself how damn lucky I actually am.
Jake Boyd: "Barlights" (Fun.) This song, to me, is about moving on from people and experiences that hold you back. It (and the whole album) helped get me through my first heartbreak in the city. The beat is the perfect walking tempo, too. If you ever see me keeping a perfect rhythm walking down the street, it's a good bet this song came on my shuffle.
Jake Boyd: "N.Y.C" from Annie. Oh, come on! You know you love it! Annie was the first show I did at my local community theatre, and "N.Y.C" was my favorite number in it. I was in the ensemble, and for this song they dressed me in — dare I say — the most fly cowboy ensemble there has ever been. Not to toot my chubby, 12-year-old horn but....
Jake Boyd: "Somewhere In Brooklyn" (Bruno Mars) Now, I'm a Queens guy myself, but I love this song. I've always wanted that romantic story of seeing someone across the train and something sparks between you two. Like, this one time I saw a girl on the train, who looked like she was really upset about something so I leaned over and offered her some tissues that I had. She looks up at me with these beautiful brown eyes.... And pukes all over the floor. She wasn't upset. She was wasted. Le sigh. God, I love New York.
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