I don't even know which movie this line comes from. But I do know that I hear it every time I come to this incredible metropolis. Inside my head. In what I now know to be a Jersey accent.
America renews. It renews itself, continually, and it renews me. And the Big Apple does that par excellence. Which is why, over a decade into making very frequent visits, I still find it so extraordinarily inspirational.
But this is kind of odd when you think about it. Many people, when asked to think of a place they'd go to get inspired, don't think of big, thumping cities. Instead, they'll often think of somewhere measured, tranquil: a river, the countryside, calm and noise-free.
Don't get me wrong. I love tranquility. For me, standing on the bank of an English chalk stream is about as good as it gets.
But it's where I go to think.
And that's slightly different from getting inspired. Isn't it? For me, thinking comes from the inside out, whereas inspiration is the exact opposite. The two things are of course entirely symbiotic but they are, I think, distinct.
The etymology is perhaps instructive here. Inspire means to take in, to breathe in, to -- in one way or another, and in the truest sense of the word -- consume. Now it would be naïve and downright ridiculous to suggest that one cannot do this in the countryside: the glossy sheen of a spider web on a sunny autumn morning, the beautiful weather-beaten imperfection of a stile that crosses a field, the purple hue of the heather against a darkening sky, the sparkling eyes of the pub landlady.
Because inspiration can of course come from anywhere.
It's just that, the more we take in, the more we are exposed to, the richer the diversity of our 'consumption'; the more we are able to connect worlds, join the dots and grow that Renaissance mindset that is at the heart of all great creativity, enabling us to build, to novate.
To that extent, like so many other things in life, it's a numbers game.
And here in New York City, and particularly on this little island called Manhattan, there's no doubting the numbers. Every single sense is constantly assaulted by the myriad cultures and languages, nationality layered over nationality, the colors, the smells, the seemingly endless and ever-changing districts, neighborhoods, bling to tawdry, apartment atop apartment, places, ideas -- like people -- piled high, one after another, skyscrapers of thought, upper-this, lower-that, Midtown, the Village, the diners, the bars, the theatres, the cross streets; as if the whole damned world -- in all it's bewitching, complex, maddening beauty -- was jammed into 23 square miles of concrete jungle.
The sheer noise of this constant bombardment, Gershwin's rhapsody, is simultaneously deafening and thrilling, and one simply cannot help but breathe it in.
True, unadulterated inspiration. And for that, glorious, gung-ho Gotham: I love you.
As ever, it's a been a blast; oil on the machine, the usual shot-in-the-arm and an adventure. But now it's time to get back to real center of the world, the city's city, the jewel in the crown.
London, baby, I'm coming home -- and I cannot wait to see you.
Follow Nick Jefferson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/nickjefferson