Friday, January 30, 2009


I say 'You can have your Broadway, Give Me Lenox Avenue' to myself anytime I feel displaced, ignored, or marginalized in this city. Though a tried and true proud as hell Bronx woman, Harlem has always represented Renaissance to me. Safety. Connection. Reconstruction. Immigration. History.

And though I will never know what Harlem was like when my parents used to go to parties there in the 50's and 60's - long before I was born - I know what it's turning into. Here are 'The Victims of Yellow Lights,' long time lovers of Harlem World and infinite spirit residers of Sad Street, singing:

"When the Lights in Harlem Glitter"

Oh when the lights in Harlem glitter
It’s hard for me to feel so bitter.
Tonight my heels stand taller than the litter.

I pass a whistling old man wearing a zoot suit
and a young man in baggy jeans,
now, wait a minute he’s cute.

Well, my hair is fixed
My numbers picked
I am wearing Spanish fly.
Everything new on Lenox Avenue
Except for the moonlight barbecue fish fry.
Where Pearl wears her fox-fur
It’s not that cold, what’s wrong with her
I like her alligator purse, however,
Not as much as mine
I like mine better, it’s leather.

Oh when the nights in Harlem glitter
It’s hard for me to feel so bitter.
Tonight, my heels stand taller than the litter.

Young handsome men hang on the corner, again
One asks me if I would be his friend
I say not if I see him standing on this corner, amen!
Ah well, men.

Just where am I going, tonight, I wonder
I hope far away from my inner thunder
Tomorrow I praise God just like every ‘Sunder’
But for tonight let my mind be free as summer
Got the rest of my life to think like winter, because
When these lights in Harlem glitter, honey
I don’t think about not having any money
Ain’t that funny

When these lights in Harlem glitter
It’s hard for me to feel so bitter,
I mean the weather’s a pleasure, the people are lovely
And Mister Magic Moon twinkles directly above me
and I just might find me a man to love me
looooove me,
Harlem, with you, I'm in love.

Please visit Harlem before it's all gone!!!

Here is Cynda Williams singing Branford Marsalis' 'Harlem Blues' in Spike Lee's joint, 'Mo Better Blues' back in the day.

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