"New York" as written by Angel Haze, Gil Scott Heron and Will Mcnair....
An imitation from New York
You're made in Japan from cheese and chalk
You're hippy tarts hero
'Cause you put on a bad show, you put on a bad show
Oh don't it show

Still out on those pills
Oh do you remember

You think it's swell playing Max's Kansas
You're looking bored and you're acting flash
With nothing in your gut you better

Keep yer mouth shut you
You better keep yer mouth shut
In a rut

Still out on those pills
Do the sambo

Four years on you still look the same
I think about time
You changed your brain
You're just a pile of shit 
You're coming to this 
Ya poor little faggot
You're sealed with a kiss
Kiss me

Think it's swell playing in Japan
When everybody knows Japan is a dishpan
You're just a pile of shit
You're coming to this
You poor little faggot
You're sealed with a kiss

Still out on those pills
Cheap thrills
Anadins Aspros anything
You're condemned to eternal bull-shit
You're sealed with a kiss
Kiss me

A kiss a kiss
You're sealed with a kiss
A looking for a kiss
You're coming to this

I want to kiss
You do just about anything
Oh kiss this
Eh boy


Lyrics submitted by spunkykitten

"New York" as written by Jones

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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New York song meanings
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22 Comments

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  • +2
    My Interpretationme too - i've always loved this song. but (for some reason) i have never actually owned a copy of this album, and it wasn't until the other night that i made an effort to track down the lyrics, and of course that then made me start thinking about them... i have read all the comments below and would like to thank wrob in particular for explaining a couple of things.

    having mulled it over and over ( = i have played the song again almost ten times, and have had it on continuous loop in my head for the last 36 hrs!) i want to add and/or clarify a couple of things:

    1. unfortunately (@ wrob) there is nothing tongue-in-cheek about this song. lydon's contempt and vitriol is (as usual) 100% genuine

    2. the target is not the dolls as such, but david johansen in particular (and even there it's not so much what DJ *was*, as what lydon felt he had allowed himself to become, by 1977)

    - once the latter occurred to me i went back through the song and reaIised all the second-person references are in the singular ("an imitation", "hippy tart's hero", "poor little faggot" etc). but the clincher for me is in the very clever phrase "cheese and chalk" - it seems at first as if lydon has just grabbed a readymade rhyme by turning a well-known phrase on its head, but he's done much more than that: in one image he skewers DJ's integrity as an entertainer while caricaturing his physical appearance (long and thin and pale). john was always a much better lyricist than a lot gave him credit for.

    i have no opinion on the new york dolls really, so don't side with one or the other, but i do know that lydon would not have turned his scorn on DJ unless he felt sure in his own mind that it was warranted. "nothing in your gut... stuck in a rut" translates/unpacks into the following: "you spent all your money on drugs and now have to toe the record company line, just do whatever they want, which is the same pathetic sideshow day after day". the *kiss* references later in the song are really vicious, turning one of DJ's most famous moments against him by implying that he's not only been bought and sold, he's allowed himself to be gift-wrapped as if for some horrible lecherous abuser. (many, many artists have felt this way after - or during - careers in the entertainment industry!)

    - all this may seem totally savage and unfair, but lydon lived by his own principles and was gone from the band soon enough... meanwhile, this lyric is a magnificently brutal piece of juvenalian satire and is well married to the most ambitious, least predictable songwriting on the album. (fwiw i would bet the real title was "new york doll" but that the record label talked him out of it... in the same way as "john travolta" by mr bungle is known officially as "quote unquote")

    a few more observations:

    "made in japan" was (back in the 70s) how everybody in the UK described something cheaply mass-produced. (this later, and rather more accurately, became "made in taiwan" and eventually "made in china")

    "coming to this" - as in, "that it should come to this"

    "hippy tart" will have been some poor unfortunate whom lydon encountered on his first visit to the big apple... someone who insisted that the dolls were still worth seeing cos DJ was her hero, he always messes up onstage, to show that he's not playing the game etc etc - and john is thinking "that's the best you can come up with??" - i'm just guessing here

    peace out x
    centon May 06, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentignore the E.M.I. at the end...sorry
    spunkykittenon April 30, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOther than the input of McLauren the Pistols weren't really inspired by the New York scene; the influences go further back accept for maybe Jones' style. Basically McLauren was always telling them about the NY scene and aggrandized it so much that the band got so sick of it that they wrote this song trashing the scene. It was more like taking a piss on McLauren, which I think is proof for the nay-sayers of the band's independent streak which the even the manager could not often restrain.
    Balleron August 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love this song.

    The subject is the New York Dolls. It references specific songs of theirs including "Looking for a Kiss" and "Pills" ("do the sambo" may allude to their more novelty-esqe tunes), and themes such as cross dressing and drug abuse for which they were known. At the time this was written, the Dolls would have been either defunct or in the process of sputtering out.

    I like to believe that it was meant as good natured trash talk between groups that weren't that far removed from each other - musically, as has been noted, and socially. However, I can't discount the possibility that Lydon intended it as an attack. It would not be inconsistent with his confrontational nature and notion of artistic integrity.

    Max's Kansas City was a hip club in NYC at the time. "Japan is a Dishpan" is a song by Captain Beefheart, whom I believe was a noted influence.
    wrobon June 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti thought he was saying "teddy boy" at the end.
    susiehighschoolon July 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think it means like fuck off all of you manufactured bands that are out now. Everybody knows the pistols h8 that shit
    alexk89on May 22, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIts about how Sid was such a tit
    walkenon May 31, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsorry phil lynott (from thin lizzy) was irish!
    loyoyoon September 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah but also check out sad vacation
    nuthins simple expecially not the pistols of whom who greil marcus said draw a line anywhere and the sex pistols are on the other side of it
    also jones saying he ripped off johnny thunders in the filth and the furry is a nice moment
    but still, the dolls never went near as far and were never terrifying nor wierdly gnostic as johnny rotten and i think thats what makes the pistols the pistols and if johnny rotten hated half the people he said he hated he wouldnt be a quarter as funny
    moogfaagon February 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah but also check out sad vacation
    nuthins simple expecially not the pistols of whom who greil marcus said draw a line anywhere and the sex pistols are on the other side of it
    also jones saying he ripped off johnny thunders in the filth and the furry is a nice moment
    but still, the dolls never went near as far and were never terrifying nor wierdly gnostic as johnny rotten and i think thats what makes the pistols the pistols and if johnny rotten hated half the people he said he hated he wouldnt be a quarter as funny
    moogfaagon February 03, 2005   Link

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