The song begins in D minor. The mood is portentous. Eight bars of soft, but sinister chords on the piano echo Death himself, emerging from the water and creeping softly up to the unsuspecting maiden.
The landscape here is a watery one, almost devoid of persons, but peopled with dead ships – proud vessels from a bygone age, replete with masts, starboards and other parts one only makes mention of in pirate movies. Today, they stand anchored at the South Street Seaport, mere shadows of their former selves, never to set sail again.
This is a small, self-contained world, past the threshold of the elevated highway, or FDR Drive, we are plunged into a whole other world of Maiden Lane proper.
(For information on specific buildings on Liberty Street, I am indebted to the awesome New York Songlines: Virtual Walking Tours of Manhattan Streets, at http://www.nysonglines.com)