Jazz Play Along – “Manhattan” by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart with sheet music

“Manhattan” by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart Jazz Play Along – with sheet music

The song describes, in several choruses, the simple delights of Manhattan for a young couple in love. The joke is that these “delights” are really some of the worst, or cheapest, sights that New York has to offer; for example, the stifling, humid stench of the subway in summertime is described as “balmy breezes”, while the noisy, grating pushcarts on Mott Street are “gently gliding by”.

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A particular Hart delight is the use of New York dialect to rhyme “spoil” with “boy and goil”.In the first stanza, the couple is obviously too poor to afford a honeymoon to the popular summertime destinations of “Niag’ra” or “other places”, so they claim to be happy to “save our fares”. In the second stanza, they go for a walk down Delancey Street, which was in the 1920s a boisterous commercial strip, part of the working-class Lower East Side. In the third stanza, they plan to go to Greenwich Village, to watch “Modern men itch to be free”.

In the fourth stanza, it is revealed that the only rural retreat they can afford to go to is “Yonkers”, and the only restaurant they can afford is to “starve together in Childs’” – a popular discount cafeteria. These were all working-class places that attracted the poor, the unemployed, and gays and lesbians, along with other denizens of the Prohibition-era demimonde. In later stanzas, other places they will go to are likewise free – Central Park, “the Bronx Zoo”, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and to view the much-criticized statue of “Civic Virtue”


Summer journeys to Niag’ra
and to other places aggra-
vate all our cares.
We’ll save our fares!

I’ve a cozy little flat in
what is known as old Manhattan
we’ll settle down
right here in town!

We’ll have Manhattan
the Bronx and Staten
Island too.
It’s lovely going through
the zoo!

It’s very fancy
on old Delancy
street you know.
The subway charms us so
when balmy breezes blow
to and fro.

And tell me what street
compares with Mott Street
in July?
Sweet pushcarts gently gli-ding by.

The great big city’s a wonderous toy
just made for a girl and boy.
We’ll turn Manhattan
into an isle of joy!

We’ll go to Yonkers
Where true love conquers
In the whiles
And starve together dear, in Chiles

We’ll go to Coney
And eat baloney on a roll
In Central Park we’ll stroll
Where our first kiss we stole
Soul to soul

And “My Fair Lady” is a terrific show they say
We both may see it close, some day

The city’s glamour can never spoil
The dreams of a boy and goil
We’ll turn Manhattan
into an isle of joy!

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