I’m in Gotham Café – which is as New York an establishment as any I can think of. I cannot tell you why but it has a flavor of old New York while adapting to the new one. They have photos on the walls of jazz greats and landmarks.
And playing, quite loudly, too, is “Free Bird” which seems so out of context, I can hardly make sense of it. In some cafes in NYC, this jamming of “Free Bird” might be ironic. If I heard it at Café Grumpy, for example, or Birch, I’d understand that this was a guilty pleasure play or ironic enjoyment jam.
Here at Gotham, it feels like an earnest playing of “Free Bird” as if someone said, “Come, some music!” and when the opportunity for requests came, someone shouted for “Free Bird” and not as a joke.
I’d heard joke references to “Free Bird” for many years before I heard the song itself. It is the accepted joke to make at the request portion of an evening of music. I’d thought no one really wanted to hear “Free Bird” that they were just joining in the general shouting.
But people do want to hear “Free Bird” and not just in the South and not just ironically. Even at an old school café in NYC.