An unexpected lyric: A previously unknown (to me) Sinatra song suddenly summons nostalgia

December 2, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 2, 2014

Occasionally, echoes of my childhood home pop up at the least expected times — and in the least expected songs.

That’s just what happened to me around 2:30 this afternoon when I was sitting in DaisyCakes, a bakery in downtown Durham, N.C. The sound system was playing classic big band songs, one of which was sung by Frank Sinatra.

“Let’s take a boat to Bermuda,” crooned the man with the golden pipes as the song began. “Let’s take a plane to St. Paul.”

Nothing too remarkable here. But my ears pricked up midway through the next couplet:

Let’s grab a kayak to Quincy or Nyack.
Let’s get away from it all.

Quincy is a city of about 93,000 residents located some 11 miles south-southeast of Boston, Mass. One could kayak — or, more plausibly, sail in a boat powered by wind or an engine — from downtown Boston through the mouth of the Mystic River, pass Logan International Airport, take a southerly turn through the Boston Harbor Islands and proceed into Quincy Bay before landing at Merrymount Park in Quincy. I’ve never been to Quincy.

But Nyack! Nyack, N.Y.! (The name, natch, rhymes with kayak and, also naturally, is of Native American origin.) I grew up near Nyack. I have friends who grew up in Nyack. When I return to the house where I was raised, I frequently swing by Nyack for entertainment of one sort or another. (Main Street has a fantastic restaurant, bar and nightlife scene.)

Nyack is a lovely village on the banks of the Hudson River — which, as one of my parents never tires of reminding me, is actually a tidal estuary — that is home to about 7,000 people. (Nyack is part of the town of Orangetown, home to roughly 48,000 residents, which may be a more accurate indicator of the area’s population.)

Nyack is situated about 29 miles north of Lower Manhattan — theoretically, a straight shot up the roads and across the river, although due to traffic, it’s rarely that simple a trip. I’ve no idea how much time would be needed to kayak from Lower Manhattan, but you can certainly do it. (I imagine the journey would take at least an hour in a boat with an engine.)

But back to DaisyCakes, and back to my surprise:

Huh, I thought to myself. Nyack. Nyack! I didn’t know that Nyack was mentioned in a song!

The song is “Let’s Get Away from it All,” which this website credits to Tom Adair and Matt Dennis. It’s a delightful tune, and it was a wonderful surprise to stumble across it.

One quick note about Nyack. It used to (and may still) be that, if you looked in certain local clothing or souvenir shops, you could find T-shirts that said, “London. Paris. Nyack.” It’s a delightful juxtaposition of the famous and the obscure, and it speaks to the pride — or arrogance, or self-deprecating humor — you be the judge — locals have regarding this charming locale.

The lyrics of “Let’s Get Away from it All” vary from site to site. Here’s one extended version (with minor punctuation changes made by me) that I found at a quirky blog called Pseudo-Intellectualism:

Let’s take a boat to Bermuda.
Let’s take a plane to St. Paul.
Let’s grab a kayak to Quincy or Nyack,
Let’s get away from it all.
Let’s take a trip in a trailer.
No need to come back at all.
Let’s take a powder to Boston for chowder,
Let’s get away from it all.
We’ll travel ’round from town to town,
The whole wide world we’ll see.
And I’ll repeat I love you sweet
Wherever we may be.
Let’s go again to Niagara.
This time we’ll look at the fall.
Let’s leave our hut, dear,
Get out of our rut, dear.
Let’s get away from it all.
So tired of the dull routine
Up to town on the 8:15
Back at night, off to bed and then
Get up and start it all over again.
Let’s motor down to Miami.
Let’s climb the Grand Canyon Wall.
Let’s catch a big tuna
In Laguna.
Let’s get away from it all.
Let’s spend some time
Way down in Dixie.
I’ll get a real southern drawl.
Off to Reno
Won’t play keno.
Let’s get away from it all.
No place like home sweet home.
It’s a charming thought and pure.
But until the world we roam
How can we be sure?
Off to Niagra.
Next time we’re digging the falls.
Yes, we’re leaving,
We’re hitting the road.
Oh we’re leaving,
We’re hitting the road.
Yes, we’re leaving,
We’re hitting the road.
Oh, we’re getting away from it all.

For the record, this song is copyrighted by Dorsey Brothers Music, as best I can tell. Good stuff.

One Response to “An unexpected lyric: A previously unknown (to me) Sinatra song suddenly summons nostalgia”

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