Despite Toronto's proximity to New York City (perhaps an hour by commuter plane), I've only been to the Big Apple twice in my life and my first time wasn't until the fall of 1993. Frankly, the main reason was that I was terrified of the place. I kept hearing on the news and through the various dramas and sitcoms ("The Odd Couple" was one of my favourites) about things such as taking one's life into one's hands when crossing through Central Park and trying to survive the subways with all of your body parts intact. Yep, I realize that I was imbued with a certain amount of paranoia but that was my true impression of NYC.
And yet during the 1970s as a kid, I remember watching this series of commercials on the American channels with the disco-catchy song "I Love New York" which was created by someone who was known as the King of Jingles, Steve Karmen. The above commercial is the one I most remember, and I did get a kick at the end of the ad when a very young and fully-coiffed character actor Frank Langella appeared as Dracula.
Getting back into the theme of Japanese pop music, I was listening to my latest acquisition, "Light Mellow - Wave" when I heard fusion band Casiopea（カシオペア）doing its own cover of "I Love New York"! Really? Is it the "I Love New York" that I remembered as a child? That was my thought when I saw the caption on the album booklet. And sure enough, the song may have been sung through a vocoder and it had a lot more of the funk and AOR sound rather than the orchestral disco of the original, but it was indeed that song.
Strangely enough, this was Casiopea's debut single from May 1979 and it was also a track on the band's 2nd album "Super Flight" from November of that year. Apparently, Karmen was not only happy to give one of his most famous jingles to the government of New York State but also to Japan Air Lines since the airline used it as their campaign song.
As it turned out, my inaugural trip to New York City in 1993 was a good one. My friend and I met up with another old friend from university who was now living in the Upper East Side. Having coffee at a cafe in Rockefeller Centre was wonderful (picking up some Japanese pop CDs at the nearby Kinokuniya), walking down Fifth Avenue was great and having some fine food was scrumptious. The subways were still grotty back then and there was that chance encounter with the drug dealer at the edge of Central Park one morning (after he offered, I replied "Sorry, I'm cutting down..."), but I returned home with a better image of what was once feared as The World's Most Dangerous City. I....liked...New York.