"Take the 'A' Train" by Duke Ellington (VIDEO)

Listen to "Take the 'A' Train" by Duke Ellington, No. 12 on our list of the 100 best NYC songs.

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12. Duke Ellington Orchestra, "Take the 'A' Train" (1941)

In 1939, Duke Ellington tapped Billy Strayhorn as his new right-hand man and sent for the pianist-composer, then living in Pittsburgh. Ellington's instructions said to hop on the A, bound for Harlem, and Strayhorn was off—both creatively and careerwise. The lyrics, added later, spelled out the sentiment—"Hurry, get on now/It's coming/Listen to those rails a-thrumming"—but Strayhorn's brass-festooned original achieves the same effect: a musical depiction of a rising star getting his shot at the glitzy big time.


Take the


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