By John Toole
---- — A video cover of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” with new lyrics written in tribute to Boston after the marathon bombing, is getting thousands of views on YouTube and touching hearts across the region and America.
Three people from Derry and Salem are the talent behind “Boston State of Mind,” which even has the blessing of the Grammy-winning singer and songwriter.
They are the personal trainer who wrote the lyrics, the reading tutor whose video captures the landmarks and neighborhoods of the city, and the 12-year-old girl whose voice is truly Boston Strong.
“We’ve got more than 5,000 views, all by word of mouth,” said video producer Noreen Fantasia, 47, of Salem. “It’s really taken off.”
Bombing victim Jeff Bauman’s family shared the video from his Facebook page.
A woman from Florida with Boston ties wrote to tell them she had watched it 20 times.
People have donated to One Fund Boston at onefundboston.org after watching, others have told them the video has touched their hearts.
“People need to see this,” friends who watched told them.
It’s rare for a professional like Joel to allow someone to use his work in a project like this.
But Joel himself knows about doing something out of love for a city devastated by terrorism. He performed “New York State of Mind” in the Concert for New York after the Sept. 11 attack.
“It’s a huge thing he gave permission,” Fantasia said. “I think he did this because of (One Fund Boston) and to support Boston after the tragedy. He knew we weren’t trying to make money off it.”
Patrick Garrett, 47, from Derry, is the personal trainer who came up with the idea. Fantasia said he heard Joel’s New York anthem on his iPod playlist and thought it could be adapted for a similar tribute to Boston.
“He literally wrote the lyrics in an hour or a little over an hour,” Fantasia said.
“I was trying to capture a little bit of the spirit of Boston, some of the things I like about Boston,” Garrett said.
But Garrett’s voice left the project a little flat.
“Noreen said it was really good, but we should get someone else to sing this,” he recalled.
So, they turned to another friend, Susan Stanganelli, whose 12-year-old daughter, Emma, is in chorus at Salem’s Woodbury School and who has performed on stage at Manchester’s Palace Theatre.
Emma learned the song in a week and, after a failed recording session in the bathroom at home, went to a studio in Haverhill. It cost them $65.
“It was well worth every last penny,” Stanganelli said. “It’s pretty amazing.”
Emma said the song is very inspiring.
“I hope this will encourage others to donate to (One Fund Boston),” she said.
The combination of Emma’s voice, Garrett’s words, Joel’s melody and the scenes from Boston is priceless.
“I think there is some picture in that video that everyone connects to, some moment you’ve experienced,” Stanganelli said. “It reminds them of something in their life.”
Photos take the viewer from Zakim Bridge to Mike’s Pastry, past the USS Constitution in Charlestown, down the Freedom Trail, over the Hatch Shell, through Chinatown, Southie, around The Pru and out to Fenway.
The video is a little over six minutes, with images of emergency responders and the marathon, though not the mayhem.
“Some folks to get away take a holiday out on Buzzards Bay, get away from the neighborhood out to Tanglewood,” Emma sings. “But I’m taking the ‘T’ now on the blue and orange line, I’m in a Boston state of mind.”
The lyrics are part of the magic.
“He really nailed it as far as the places in Boston that people love,” Fantasia said.
Garrett may be a natural lyricist, but not so much a musician.
“I’m not musical at all,” he confessed with a laugh.
He said he is just a Billy Joel fan who put new words to the song.
Garrett grew up in East Boston, Fantasia in Revere.
“We were both moved by the tragedy,” said Fantasia, 47, a reading tutor at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill. “I was devastated. I never expected that would happen in Boston. It broke my heart.”
To watch “Boston State of Mind,” visit youtube.com/watch?v=RRdAIFutuoQ.