Songs inspired by the Hudson Valley
The Hudson Valley has inspired a variety of songs in the past few decades. Here's a look at some of the most notable ones.
Song: “Woodstock” (1969)
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Local connection: The iconic folk singer wrote the song as a celebration of the legendary 1969 music festival, and a lament that she wasn't able to participate. A cover by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (who did perform at Woodstock) became a hit for the group.
Lyrical shoutout: “By the time we got to Woodstock / We were half a million strong / And everywhere was song and celebration.”
Song: “Moneyearnin’ Mount Vernon” (1987)
Artist: Heavy D and the Boys
Local connection: The late rapper grew up in Mount Vernon, and this track, in which he name-drops the places he liked to hang out, eat and shop, is his tour of the city.
Lyrical shoutout: “Get up, party people, listen to this rap / Cause I'm about to go down and put my town on the map / MC Heavy D, delighted you'll be learnin / About the place where I rest, Moneyearnin' Mount Vernon.”
Song: “Summer, Highland Falls" (1976)
Artist: Billy Joel
Local connection: Joel lived in Highland Falls for a time in the mid-'70s, after he moved back to New York from Los Angeles. (He also famously referred to “taking a Greyhound on the Hudson Valley Line” in his iconic hit, “New York State of Mind.”)
Lyrical shoutout: The Orange County village doesn’t get a shout-out in the song, perhaps because Joel is too preoccupied with a broken relationship, which has him swinging back between “sadness and euphoria.”
Song: “Yonkers” (2011)
Artist: Tyler the Creator
Local connection: None, except for the song’s title.
Lyrical shoutout: There’s no reference to the Westchester village, but considering the rapper’s often profane and controversial lyrics, that’s probably for the best.
Song: “Millbrook” (1998)
Artist: Rufus Wainwright
Local connection: The pop crooner was born in Rhinebeck, and spent his adolescence in Montreal before attending Millbrook School, a prestigious boarding school in Dutchess County.
Lyrical shoutout: “The boys and girls of Millbrook / Are on a train from New York / Wearing new hats / Shooting the sh** / Deep in the heart of Dutchess County.”
Song: “Westchester County” (1983)
Artist: Loudon Wainwright III
Local connection: The folk singer (and father of Rufus Wainwright) was raised in Bedford, and the song is a wry, autobiographical take on growing up in the area.
Lyrical shoutout: "I was raised here in Westchester County / I was taught in the Country Day School / We were richer than most / I don't mean to boast / But I swam in the country pool."
Song: “Sleepy Hollow” (1965)
Artist: Roy Orbison (pictured with wife Barbara)
Local connection: The bespectacled singer best known for his hit, “Pretty Woman,” seems to be singing about an imagined place of solitude, not the Westchester village.
Lyrical shoutout: "There's a place I call Sleepy Hollow / Where I go when you're not around / There's a brook running clear in the meadow / I lose my blues in its sound.”
Song: “Old, Old Woodstock” (1971)
Artist: Van Morrison
Local connection: The legendary artist wrote this paean to the simple pleasures of family life while living in Woodstock in the mid-'60s.
Lyrical shoutout: “Going down to old, old Woodstock / Feel the cool night breeze / Going down to old, old Woodstock / Going down to give my child a squeeze.”
Song: “My Dirty Stream (The Hudson River Song)“ (1966)
Artist: Pete Seeger
Local connection: The Putnam County native has been championing the clean-up of the Hudson River since the '60s, eventually founding the annual Clearwater Festival to promote environmental awareness.
Lyrical shoutout:”Sailing up my dirty stream / Still I love it and I'll keep the dream / That some day, though maybe not this year / My Hudson River will once again run clear.”
Other songs about the Hudson Valley include: “Bedford,” by Stephan Bodzin; “Bronxville Darby and Joan,” by Noel Coward; “Bronxville,” by Andy Gonzales; “Chappaqua,” by Ravi Shankar (pictured); “Eastchester,” by Crazibiza; “Irvington,” by Joshua Slant; “Mademoiselle from New Rochelle,” by George and Ira Gershwin; “New City,” The Fold; “Nyack," by Lettuce; “Peekskill,” by Wormburner; “Poughkeepsie,” by Over the Rhine; “Rockland,” by TomC3 & Prince Po; “Saugerties, New York,” by The Great Crusades; “Tuckahoe,” by Shilletto; and “White Plains,” by Pilot Touhill.