Michael Feinstein belts out “New York, New York” (music by John Kander, lyric by Fred Ebb, 1978) in a live performance at London’s Shaw Theatre, backed by a 17 piece big band conducted by Bill Elliott.
As Feinstein tells it, Kander and Ebb had been hired to write the score for the musical film starring Robert DeNiro and Liza Minnelli. When they brought what they had created as the title song to the film’s director Martin Scorcese, Minnelli, and DeNiro and performed it for the first time, there was a long pause, after which DeNiro said, “I don’t like it.” Kander and Ebb were stunned, but had no choice but to go back to their studio and make up something else. Channeling all their frustration, anger, and resentment into their work, they came back with a new title song to play for their finicky star. This time DeNiro said, “I like it.” And that’s the song that was sung by Liza, later commandeered by Sinatra, and became a worldwide standard…and the bane of every piano bar pianist.