MovieGusher

42nd street Forty Second street lyrics question

12 posts in this topic

I am hoping someone can help me with the meaning of the lyrics for 42nd St. theme song.

the line "Sexy  ladies from the eighties, who are indiscreet"

Is it referring to the 80-89 th street block? what does the eighties mean

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prostitues, perhaps.  Or loose-moralled sophisticates.  Someone who knows the historical character of that region of Manhattan could clarify it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

Prostitues, perhaps.  Or loose-moralled sophisticates.  Someone who knows the historical character of that region of Manhattan could clarify it.

I guess there was no relationship between the street number and the cost of the services!

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe there was!  But I am not familiar enough with the cultural geography of Manhattan to say if the relationship would be proportional, or inversely proportional.

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Maybe there was!  But I am not familiar enough with the cultural geography of Manhattan to say if the relationship would be proportional, or inversely proportional.

I never lived in a big city like NYC, L.A. or Chicago,  living in the burbs in So Cal;

But I do know the terms 'uptown' and 'downtown';  I assume these relate to the street numbers in cities that use mostly a numbering system;   e.g. one is going 'uptown' when going from street #30 to street #60. 

I believe the terms are also used (based on films I've seen???),  to indicate the relative wealth (niceness), of an area.    I have always assumed that going 'uptown' meant the better part of town.   But hey,  I could by way off!

Anyhow,  I never noticed that 42nd Street lyric but to me it implies the more sleazy part of town has the higher street numbers (uptown?).   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI - the line just before this one is "little nifties from the 50's innocent and sweet". I have no idea which neighborhoods these streets were in, but maybe the lyricist just needed something to  rhyme. I danced in the chorus of a production of the stage musical, and was one of the "sexy ladies" - we were told we portrayed prostitutes!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the responses, I assumed they were prostitutes, and probably the author took poetic license with the avenues that rhymed with words they could use in a song

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I never lived in a big city like NYC, L.A. or Chicago,  living in the burbs in So Cal;

But I do know the terms 'uptown' and 'downtown';  I assume these relate to the street numbers in cities that use mostly a numbering system;   e.g. one is going 'uptown' when going from street #30 to street #60. 

I believe the terms are also used (based on films I've seen???),  to indicate the relative wealth (niceness), of an area.    I have always assumed that going 'uptown' meant the better part of town.   But hey,  I could by way off!

Anyhow,  I never noticed that 42nd Street lyric but to me it implies the more sleazy part of town has the higher street numbers (uptown?).   

Well, Harlem was around 125th St., so my guess is that going uptown was going down--the socio-economic scale, that is.  But Hell's Kitchen is around the 50s.  And Wall St. is below the numbered streets.  But so is the Bowery, a traditionally down-and-out area.  So I don't gotta clue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think 'indiscreet" has a different connotation then Prostitute.

The Tenderloin, West Side, was the "Red Light" district of Manhattan in the old days. The Eighties in Manhattan, is and was upscale. Jackie O had an apartment there in the late 60's. Yorktown, the Eighties east of Third Ave, was a predominately German neighborhood, a decent working class neighborhood made famous by Humphrey Bogart in "All Through the Night". I suspect the song refers not to professional working girls but to Party Girls like Holly Golightly or Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8. For the record, Butterfield 8 is/was the telephone exchange for the East 80's in Manhattan, The Upper East Side (59th St to 96th St) was called the girl ghetto in the 60's. A lot of secretaries, administrative assistants, flight attendants lived up that way. I am way too young to remember when "42nd Street" was written, but old enough to have had a cocktail or two at Maxwell's Plum. So this is partly local knowledge, partly speculation.

Add to this, there aren't  many numbers that rhyme with "Ladies" and lyric rhymes top economic geography every time.

Lou

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell%27s_Plum

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, lwi2858 said:

I think 'indiscreet" has a different connotation then Prostitute.

The Tenderloin, West Side, was the "Red Light" district of Manhattan in the old days. The Eighties in Manhattan, is and was upscale. Jackie O had an apartment there in the late 60's. Yorktown, the Eighties east of Third Ave, was a predominately German neighborhood, a decent working class neighborhood made famous by Humphrey Bogart in "All Through the Night". I suspect the song refers not to professional working girls but to Party Girls like Holly Golightly or Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8. For the record, Butterfield 8 is/was the telephone exchange for the East 80's in Manhattan, The Upper East Side (59th St to 96th St) was called the girl ghetto in the 60's. A lot of secretaries, administrative assistants, flight attendants lived up that way. I am way too young to remember when "42nd Street" was written, but old enough to have had a cocktail or two at Maxwell's Plum. So this is partly local knowledge, partly speculation.

Add to this, there aren't  many numbers that rhyme with "Ladies" and lyric rhymes top economic geography every time.

Lou

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell's_Plum

 

Thank You Lou, Great post. I laughed and shook my head when I read the other posts in this thread, especially those guesses about the geography. I'm a former NY'er and lived in NY from the 1950's thru the mid 1970's. You are so right on about who lived on the upper east side in those years. I was also old enough to have a cocktail or 2 at Maxwell's Plum and did! LOL.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us