Bite the Big Apple

New York City is divided up into 5 boroughs, those being Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.  NYC is called the “Big Apple”, and this phrase originated as a horse-racing term in the 1920s when winning a horse race in NYC was referred to as winning the “Big Apple,” or the large prize.  Around the same time, jazz musicians used the term to describe playing in New York City, meaning, like a horse winning a big race, playing in NYC was a big deal and the goal of any musician really wanting to make it to the big time.  I was born in Brooklyn and one thing that I find interesting about this song is the word shmatta which is Yiddish for a rag, or it could mean anything that is shabby.  If you spell my last name Adams backwards it becomes Smada, which is defined in the Urban Dictionary as the act of saying something completely random to attract attention to yourself, and/or create an awkward situation.  That might describe me perfectly and smada rhymes with shmatta.

‘Shattered’ was on the 1978 Rolling Stones album Some Girls and it reached #31 on the US charts.  The lyrics paint a bleak picture of life in New York City which is a place where you could be wildly successful, but there is also a lot of crime, drugs, and poverty there.  Keith Richards came up with the guitar riff on this and the line “Sha-doobie”, but Jagger wrote the rest of this song.  Due to the absence of bassist Bill Wyman, the bass track is played by Ronnie Wood.

NYC is a place of excess where everything available to those people that can pay for it, but at the same time some residents are going around dressed in plastic bags.  The city has a voracious appetite, that is fed by love, greed, joy, pride, laughter, loneliness, dirty dreams, sex and sex and sex, as you hear Mick say the word sex 7 times in this song.  This song mentions cocktail parties as it depicts the worst parts of the city with “rats on the West Side, bed bugs uptown”, but people are “still surviving on the street” and “That’s what makes our town the best”.

Uh huh shattered, uh huh shattered
Love and hope and sex and dreams
Are still surviving on the street
Look at me, I’m in tatters!
I’m a shattered
Friends are so alarming
My lover’s never charming
Life’s just a cocktail party on the street
Big Apple
People dressed in plastic bags
Directing traffic
Some kind of fashion
Laughter, joy, and loneliness and sex and sex and sex and sex
Look at me, I’m in tatters
I’m a shattered
All this chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter ‘bout
Shmatta, shmatta, shmatta, I can’t give it away on 7th Avenue
This town’s been wearing tatters (shattered, sha ooobie shattered)
Work and work for love and sex
Ain’t you hungry for success, success, success, success
Does it matter? (shattered)
Does it matter?
Ah look at me
I’m shattered
I’m shattered 0
Look at me, I’m a shattered, yeah (shattered)
Pride and joy and greed and sex
That’s what makes our town the best
Pride and joy and dirty dreams and still surviving on the street
And look at me, I’m in tatters, yeah
I’ve been battered, what does it matter
Does it matter, uh-huh
Does it matter, uh-huh, I’m a shattered
Mmm, I’m shattered, unh
Sha oobie, shattered, unh
Sha oobie, shattered
Sha oobie, shattered, shattered
Don’t you know the crime rate is going up, up, up, up, up
To live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough!
You got rats on the West Side
Bed bugs uptown
What a mess this town’s in tatters, I’ve been shattered
My brain’s been battered, splattered all over Manhattan
Sha oobie, shattered, shattered, what say
Sha oobie, shattered
Sha oobie, shattered
Sha oobie, shattered
Uh-huh, this town’s full of money grabbers
Go ahead, bite the Big Apple, don’t mind the maggots, huh
Sha oobie, my brain’s been battered
My friends they come around they
Flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter
Pile it up, pile it up, pile high on the platter

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is to use a song that mentions a place that you consider to be your home town, or a city that you lived in once.

24 thoughts on “Bite the Big Apple

  1. Your name backwards explains it all. I had no idea NYC had only 5 boroughs. I made up a mnemonic for them so I will always remember them. Have you seen the A2Z on NYC landmarks? It’s really interesting. Would love to take an extended tour/vaca there at least once.

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  2. You made me smile with the Smada part! Actually, a little giggle came out. I could hear in the best New York accent ever! I’ve never been to NY and I know eventually I need to go, but I don’t like crowds. Niagara Falls, Ground Zero-Freedom Tower and Statue of Liberty are on my bucket list but I am hard pressed to plan a trip.

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  3. New York is my 2nd favorite state because well ya know Texas. We went for the first time in 2012 and then back four more times. After the first trip trying to see a little bit of everything, our focus became the theater 🙂 No bags old bag on Broadway … that’s me!! Great choice!! Can’t go wrong with the Stones 🙂

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  4. I lived in a smaller, isolated dorm on the far side of campus during my freshman year, and a vivid memory is approaching the dorm in the evenings and hearing either Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” or the Stones’ “Beast of Burden” or “Shattered.” (Guy on the top floor was a diehard rocker!) 😀 Nice choice!

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