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Released: 2017

“New York” by St. Vincent is an impassioned expression of longing and loss. It vividly portrays the complex relationship between the singer and New York City, an iconic city now devoid of its glamour due to a departure of not only a lover but also a close friend. It’s a lyrical stroll through the city’s atmospheric streets, painted in hues of melancholy and nostalgia.

Conceptually, the song uses New York City and its distinctive landscape as the background for a narrative of ended relationships. The lyrics “New York isn’t New York without you, love / So far in a few blocks, to be so low” indicate a profound sense of loneliness and sorrow in a city that once felt vibrant and alive. St. Vincent seems to imply that the city, much like herself, has lost its spirit and charm in the absence of her lover.

Juxtaposing a new lover with a prior one, the lyrics “New love wasn’t true love, back to you, love / So much for a home run with some blue bloods” reveals the insufficiency of a new relationship and a yearning for the old one. “Blue bloods” refers to the individuals of noble or social prominence, suggesting the singer’s regrettable flirtation with high society that proved hollow and unsatisfying.

The repetition of the lines “I have lost a hero, I have lost a friend / But for you, darling, I’d do it all again” speaks of a dual pain: a lost lover and a lost friend. This highlights the depth of the singer’s emotional bond and the magnitude of her loss. It suggests that even with the pain of loss, the singer would willingly rewind time to experience it all again, indicating a profound testament of devotion.

Finally, the mention of “Astor” and “Hollywood” signifies specific locations within New York City and Los Angeles, respectively. It hints at the artist’s transition from a cultural hub filled with friends to a new city for the sake of her career. The repeated line “you’re the only motherfucker in the city who’d forgive me” suggests a previously irreverent, possibly contentious relationship, yet one where understanding and forgiveness were possible.

In essence, “New York” is St. Vincent’s heartfelt tribute to the city and the people that shaped her. It’s a poignant reflection on love, loss, and the places that bear witness to our deepest heartaches.

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