Idle Thoughts: Songs About The City At Night

The city at night casts a spell over the young heart.


Survivor,  The Search is Over. Summer of 1984. I was in my early teens. My friend Dave’s dad took me and two other boys from the neighborhood to an Orioles game. For any baseball buff readers, that was at the old Memorial Stadium. Afterwards, he took us all out for pizza. The long, exciting day turned into an evening, which turned into a late evening, so energies ebbed during our long ride back home and we didn’t talk in the car. Just listened to the radio as Dave’s dad played it loudly. A new song came on and I liked the melody. A line caught my attention:

You’ll know certain the man I really am

What could I then, in the twilight between being a boy and a man, make of those words? The first impulse was to identify with the speaker: yeah baby, that’s me! But then a thought came: what kind of a man am I anyway? It was less words, and more abstract mental images that pointed toward the existence of, but not revealing, this ideal called “manhood” and my measure relative to that ideal. As an adolescent, I had already acquitted myself well. “But what about in the future,” I asked myself on that silent ride home.

First it was a mystery, then it was a journey, and now I’m in the driver’s seat.

The video shows the hero on his journey. He leaves his woman alone in bed and wanders the city at night. He visits a pool hall, which in that day represented men’s world. A world of cynicism, but also freedom. She calls him there, he won’t take her call. He knows that to complete his journey, he needs to complete his passage through the underworld.

He continues walking alone through night, reminiscing of his past pleasures, such as when his band-mate pulled up to him with two lovely, eager groupies. Cut to present time, he’s in that same spot alone at night. Just him and the city night.

He then recalls a time with his woman, and another friend pulling up on a motorcycle. A good woman grants her man the time to find his destiny, which she knows is with her. You see that strength, tinged with a mix of pain and hope, at 2:40 as she waits for him on that overpass. That’s the face of a woman in love and that’s his home at the end of his journey.

I once met a man near the end of his journey. This was in the early 1990s at a shopping center parking lot. I was meeting a groups of friends, including this feral minx I ended up banging. An older man, parked next to me, gets out of his car as I get out of mine. He was a heavyset fellow, wearing office slacks and a partly untucked blue shirt hanging over his belt. He asks: “How old are you, young man?” I told him I’m twenty-two. He grimaces, still looking at me and says with a shaking voice: “I’m 67…” then he starts to cry and continues, “I thought that at my age I was supposed to have it all figured out but it’s not at all like that…” and he breaks down sobbing.

I said “I’m sure it’s gonna be okay, sir” and looked at him a moment longer. Then I walked away, pumped up with anticipation.

Then good luck, it finally struck
Like lighting from the blue

Everyone gets that stroke of good luck, right?

George Michael, Father Figure. The song and the video are Gothic American art like the Brooklyn Bridge. Like an Edgar Allan Poe story.

“Greet me with the eyes of a child.” “Put your tiny hand in mine.” Creepy lyrics? It’s whatever you want them to be. That’s what it’s like between a man and a woman. When a woman loves you, that’s how she is sometimes: like a little girl.

In my immature teens, the song was a wild promise and the video even more so. It invoked the hiss of a snake from a Jim Morrison poem. “Sometimes love can be mistaken for a crime” — Gothic American art.

Loverboy, This Could be the Night

I’ve been down the streets of desire
Sometimes I was so uninspired

Neonatal genital reduction assignment for boys. Born in Europe, I wasn’t marked that way at birth. The self-consciousness of being different in America ended for me after a woman moaned oh my god it feels so much better going in. It’s a personal subject with very social ramifications: sexual morality is never a matter of private choice; there is the accepted way and the deviant way.

Nightcall is a song by French electro-house artist Vincent Belorgey, stage name Kavinsky. There is the city at night in this video, but no girls. Men’s world.

There’s something inside you, it’s hard to explain
They’re talking about you boy, but you’re still the same

A getaway driver works his way through Los Angeles and melts into a sea of normies to evade police. With the tracking technology in phones and newer cars, White freedom fighters will certainly invent a bigger mouse to beat globohomo’s mouse trap. But whatever happens — and it will happen — the fundamentals never change: like in the video, it’s about decisiveness and sang-froid when in the driver’s seat.

6 thoughts on “Idle Thoughts: Songs About The City At Night

  1. ‘Pallid Ballads’

    Road-spined songs
    Color memories’ butterfly wings;
    In midnight’s kite-string tongs:
    A veil-lacing voice clings to rapidity’s stings–
    Star-sores river-long,
    Wagging for what the bluebonnet bell soon bares & brings.

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  3. Read this in a matter-of-fact tone, not preachy: that 67-year old’s cry was that of someone with no reason to live and no hope of heaven.

  4. “that 67-year old’s cry was that of someone with no reason to live and no hope of heaven”

    I often wondered what was the matter with him, or what happened. Poor guy. He’s certainly no longer alive now.

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  6. From the grim depths of 1980 New York, I’ve always like Jim Carroll’s “City Drops Into the Night.” It’s got some good sax work, and a lot of dark but quasi-poetic writing. It all feels like a bad dream. Sample:

    It’s when the sneak thieves are checkin’
    They’re checkin the alleys for unlocked doors
    And Billy’s sister’s gettin’ frantic ’cause
    ‘Cause Billy’s sister’s little brother can’t score
    It’s when the woman from the dream is . .
    Oh my God! That’s the woman on the floor

    Each promise was just one promise more

    And there’s no better city at night song than Springsteen’s “Jungle Land.”

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