"Harlem Blues" by Nat King Cole (VIDEO)
Listen to "Harlem Blues" by Nat King Cole, No. 41 on our list of the 100 best NYC songs.
Wed Mar 7 2012
41. Nat King Cole, "Harlem Blues" (1958)
Leave it to this urbane crooner to make a lovelorn lament sound like a sepia-tinted tour through old Harlem. There's a breezy postcard quality to Cole's nostalgic urban sketch—"Since my sweetie left me, Harlem ain't the same old place/Though a thousand flappers smile right in my face"—more emblematic of hoary clichs about '20s uptown life than of how anyone actually lived. But that's part of the point: Nelson Riddle's swaggering arrangement is a reminder that over the years, romantic notions of NYC have come to feel as vivid as the place itself.