(Michael Wilson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/1.)

Frank Sinatra can thank Robert De Niro and two annoyed songwriters for the song that revived his career and now is the theme music of the city’s nightly tribute.

The old friend shows up every night, big and brawny as ever. He’s on a Brooklyn family’s seventh-floor balcony in Windsor Terrace, and above the Portofino Ristorante in Forest Hills, and bellowing out of a truck rolling slowly up and down the empty canyons of Manhattan’s avenues, right on time to — with the crash of a cymbal — start spreadin’ the news.

It is 7 p.m., and the city is already clapping, a nightly outpouring of support for health care workers that has taken place for weeks. And many have added a soundtrack to their applause, as familiar as the skyline. It’s as brassy and over the top as ever — and yet, playing out across a cooped-up city of crowded apartments and masks and gloves, its bottomless optimism can visibly bring smiles, a short pause to The Pause.

I want to be a part of it — New York, New York.

“A lot of people stop doing what they’re doing and start cheering,” said George Leon, a manager at Portofino with a front-row seat to the nightly performance, when an upstairs neighbor plays it on loudspeakers from his apartment window. “It’s awesome.”

(Read more)

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