Coney Island, Garland Jeffreys
Garland Jeffreys grew up near Coney Island, but this song is about what Coney Island is now — how it changed and what it is, and as you listen to Jeffreys’ voice, it’s hard to tell whether there’s a playful or nostalgic or mocking or despondent tone, but it’s probably a lot of each. The video above is a collection of clips of Coney Island over the years pulled from the 1952 documentary “Coney Island, U.S.A”, the 1991 PBS American Experience episode on Coney Island and the short film “Coney Island Dream"— all worth checking out in their entirety if the concept of "Coney Island" evokes some type of curious emotion, for you.
I was saving this song for a rainy day — it’s one of my favorites that’s come out this year and I didn’t want to waste it — but today, on the perfect Fourth of July, gorgeous and sunny and breezy and bright, looking ahead to cookouts and fireworks and watermelon dripping from our fingers to our toes, looking back at the Declaration of Independence and how much our country has been through, together, over the past 234 years or 10 years or so far this year — is probably the best time to post it. The Fourth of July is my favorite day of the year and captures a little of everything I love, of summer and family and history and what it means to be “American,” and while I know all day we’ll be blasting CCR and John Cougar and the like, this song starts it off just right. Quite obviously it’s about Coney Island, but listen a couple times through and I think you’ll feel it says a little something about New York in its entirety, and America itself, too.
Garland Jeffreys plays his next New York area show in Teaneck, NJ on Thursday, 7/21. In addition to the documentaries above, make sure you check out the stills shot for Coney Island Dream, which are gorgeous and for purchase.