The intro to the song found a resonance deep in the memory, a sound from the distant past, not immediately recognisable, but undeniably something that had been encountered before.
Initially, it seemed similar to Hamilton Bohannon’s Disco Stomp, a cheery tune from the summer of 1975, but that did not seem a likely song for inclusion in the BBC Radio 6 playlist. Then the became identifiable, it was Hello’s New York Groove, it and the 1974 hit Tell Him are the only songs I remember from the band.
The strange thing is that I do not recall ever hearing New York Groove in the forty-six years since it was released. Why would it have lingered so long in the memory? Why would a record less than three minutes long a record that I would only have heard on the radio, have retained a capacity to trigger its title being recalled within a few seconds of it starting?
Perhaps the easy rhythm of the tune made it more identifiable, perhaps the similarity between it and Hamilton Bohannon’s record created an association in my mind, or perhaps it was New York.
I have never been to New York, nor, on a teacher’s salary, am I ever likely to go there, but I can immediately recall a string of song titles that include the name of the city, including one that had the baffling lyric, “New York, New York, so good they named it twice.” As a teenager I did not understand that the reference was to the city and the state in which it was situated. (I was even more confused when I discovered that New York City was not the capital of New York State).
In the 1970s, New York seemed to be everything that England wasn’t. It was ultra-modern, sophisticated and the place where people wanted to be. England might have been fashionable in the 1960s, but it hadn’t much to commend it a decade later.
English teenagers listening to Hello’s New York Groove would have imagined a city filled with the sort of people that the teenagers wanted to be.
New Yorkers were seen as sophisticated, affluent, fashionable, worldly-wise. They shopped in the smartest stores, bought their clothes from the trendiest designers, went to see the best bands at the most fashionable venues. New Yorkers drove smart cars, lived in expensive apartments, earned big salaries.
To be in the New York groove, as we imagined it, would have been a fulfilment of all of our dreams.