New York, 2001. 9/11 plunges the US into a state of war and political volatility—and heralds the rebirth of the city’s rock scene. As the old-guard music industry crumbles, a…
August 8, 2017 | by Hannah Marshall
Meet Me in the Bathroom author Lizzy Goodman, who is taking over the Faber Social website this month, has put together a banging – and pretty addictive – playlist, featuring her choice of Meet Me in the Bathroom-related tracks.
Below she explains why she’s selected these 20 songs to represent the definitive New York City 00’s rock and roll listening experience:
The great New York band that never was. Everyone from Karen O to Paul Banks agrees that you wouldn’t have their music without this music.
The beginning of it all. When The Strokes wrote this song, lightning struck and New York City rock and roll was never the same again.
A deliciously maudlin and remote sound to match the tantalising aloofness of the band that made it. This is the Interpol song that first made a generation of rock girl’s hearts skip a beat.
Leave it to the greatest performer of this era to woo the masses not (at first) with her beer spitting, ripped-fishnet wearing alter ego but her inner balladeer. Karen O gave us many of the era’s greatest expressions of exalted fury, but it was the plaintive, vulnerable expression, ‘They don’t love you like I love you’ that connected first.
Yes, New York is tough, but this hilarious, profane bit of sing-along perfection by the MP showcases the scene’s silly, goofy, playful side, which was as key as the leather jacket cool.
The most ecstatic early synthesis of the New York sound being reflected across the pond by two avatars of the dirty glee that made London so much fun at the time, Pete Doherty and Carl Barat. ‘Where does all the money go? Straight up her nose.’
The purest city kids of them all find the right words (“even though it was only one night, it was fucking strange”) and sounds (violently colliding guitars) to summarise the feel of their town.
The first song to truly capture James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy’s signature DFA sound, delivered by an incomparable showman in Luke Jenner. Finally, dangerous rock music you could dance to.
One of the most powerful messages of any New York art scene has always been the call to arms for all weirdoes. The Kings of Leon have gone on to be globally celebrated rock and roll stars, known for their conventional sexiness and swagger, but at their core they are fellow freaks. Early tracks like this one, about erectile dysfunction, showcase that outsider sensibility.
Jangly sonic joy from one of New York’s biggest fans, the video for which famously featured the Twin Towers mere weeks before they fell.
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose? Indeed. Deserted by ‘his rockstar,’ the Rapture’s Luke Jenner, James Murphy turned inward, and in exposing his most frustrated, angry, insecure self a star was born.
Well, there you have it: big, splashy, sparkly, stadium-ready quality commercial rock and roll is back and here to stay.
Girls in black eyeliner, freezing streets, off duty cabs, celebrities, cocaine, and commitment phobia—this heartbreakingly intimate track written by Conor Oberst, one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, gets at the city in its darkest and most beautiful hour like only a guy not born here can.
The beginning of the “Brooklyn Band” concept. One of the smartest, most sophisticated groups of any era was shocked to discover a rabid audience for their signature aesthetic: weirdness.
Arguably the definitive banger of this era.
The Strokes will forever be cursed and blessed with having been the first out of the gate during their era, relentlessly criticized for what they did or did not do every step of the way. This track is a great reminder of how varied their output actually has been, and how beautiful.
This is what happens when you plug four great musical minds into the internet during their formative adolescent years – a sound made up of thousands of tiny samples from 90s R&B to 70s disco to 80s hip hop to Paul Simon’s Graceland.
The romantic diffuseness of the sound matches the romantic, surreal diffuseness of the urban sensibility channeled in the lyrics, as Amber Coffman sings about girls waiting tables in remote towns and cities ‘longing’ for bigger and bigger cities. By 2009, New York had become an idea. This is the sound of that idea.
The closing track to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs debut EP is the sound of kids in New York City during the turn of the century, in those precious few years when the rock and rollers among them were forging the reckless, decadent spirit that would later be exported around the world. ‘One, two, ready? Go!’
The ultimate ode to the emotionally abusive relationship that is living in this beautiful, maddening, heartbreaking city.
Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman is out now.
Read exclusive excerpts from the book on the Meet Me in the Bathroom website