Anglo For Your Ear: Kirsty MacColl’s “Walking Down Madison”

Kirsty MacColl – singer-songwriter, famous for her work with The Smiths and The Pogues – a rapper? How odd. Yet she pulls it off: in this 1990 track co-written by Johnny Marr, MacColl employs hip-hop beats, but she doesn’t actually rap. (How embarrassing would that have been?) Instead, she mutters her wry lyrics in a low sing-song voice that is both wise and sexy. And the lyrics themselves, which vividly describe New York City class divisions, are fantastic: “From an uptown apartment to a knife on the A train/It’s not that far/From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement/It’s not that far.” And if you live in NYC, look around: those lyrics still ring true.

The video, shot in Washington Square with real street dancers, really evokes early ’90s New York.

Kirsty MacColl - Electric Landlady - Walking Down Madison Download Kirsty MacColl’s “Walking Down Madison”

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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