There are some songs that feel like poems to me. What I mean is that they take me on such an emotional journey that I feel fresh images, ideas and words filling my mind as soon as I hear them. These songs that sound like poems, that make me emote, are very rare indeed – of the thousands that I own, there are perhaps only a few dozen. What’s more, they’re wildly divergent in their genres, meaning that I never know when I’ll stumble across one.
The song that feels most like a poem to me at the moment is Bobbi Humphrey’s “Harlem River Drive”. Bobbi Humphrey is one of the greatest musicians of our age, whose command of the flute is second to none: the track is an eight-minute homage to New York, and she’s accompanied by a bass, drums, keys, a xylophone and a male choir. It’s nothing short of glorious. It begins with a key in the ignition as the track’s protagonist sets out on an evening drive along the River Hudson, to shake off or celebrate whatever fate the Big Apple has brought them that day: it then eases into gentle piano chords, and then Bobbi comes in over a layer of vocal harmonies. It’s not as heralded as other tracks, say by Jay-Z and Sinatra, that celebrate New York; but I’d argue that it’s just as great. Here it is.