As someone fascinated with the City of New York and the Beastie Boys, I'm trying to figure out some context in their lyrics of the song An Open Letter to NYC.

Here are the lines that make me curious:

We're doing fine on the One and Nine [fantastic 3/8 pause] line.

On the L we're doin' swell.

On the number ten bus we fight and fuss.

You know we're thorough in the boroughs 'cause that's a must.

Well, the 1 and 9 shared their routes, and not only do they double-rhyme with "fine" and "line", the Beastie Boys also built a fantastic syncopation into these words. Altogether, however, the reason why both the 1 and 9 and the L subway lines ended up in the lyrics, I'm pretty sure, is the way they rhyme on "fine", "line" and "swell". And maybe there's the fact that the 1 and 9 were interrupted after the WTC collapsed on 9-11 and had to be rebuilt - so saying you're doing fine on these particular lines adds to the overall optimistic touch of the entire song, especially with regard to the 9-11 aftermath. Other than that, The J, M, C, the A or any other line might probably have just as many good stories along their ways. And the A train already has so much fame in the world of music that is does make a lot of sense to give some respect to other subway lines, too.

The number ten bus, however, might have a story that I fail to decipher, any maybe they didn't just pick the number in a random way. The rhythm and the rhyme would work with any number that has just one syllable. And even two syllables, like se-ven, would have worked.

So: What makes the number ten bus so special it ended up being in the lyrics? Is it the M10, the Q10, or some other line they had in mind when they wrote the song?

Any story or context is much appreciated.

  • Well, the M10 goes through Harlem, so maybe it was a "shout out" to that area (which never hurts record sales...). Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 18:51

1 Answer 1


I think the are referring to the M10 bus line that runs along 8th avenue from Columbus Circle at the southwest corner of Central Park up to 158th street in Harlem

source: https://genius.com/203208

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