Bruce Gordon. Photo by Scott Hales.
Bruce Gordon. Photo by Scott Hales.

Street Song
Writer: Mark Bittner
Mark Bittner: vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar
Matthew Lacques: acoustic lead guitar
Bruce Gordon: accordion
Paul Olguin: bass
Bruce Kaphan: percussion
Benny Watson: piano

Matthew Lacques
Matthew Lacques

The first song, “Street Song,” is one of my own and serves as the overture to the collection. I hadn’t originally intended to record it. I was using it as a warmup during a rehearsal for another song that my friend Matthew Lacques plays on. He liked the song and encouraged me to record it. I wrote “Street Song” more than 30 years ago, when I was still homeless. I was wandering the streets by day, and at night I retiring to a dusty, windowless storeroom in the back of an old apartment building, one of whose tenants was giving me secret access. The song is a look back to how I got to a place like that. Given that the lyrics mention events that take place in the main part of the book, it was an obvious choice. I don’t know how I missed that. Thank you, Matthew.

I imagine the recording as a small group of street musicians jamming late at night under a street light. (The recording is more elegant than that, however.) I used to sing Bob Dylan’s “Billy,” which is the theme song to the movie “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.” The song harkens back to that—sort of Tex-Mex. It’s spare and quiet. While the song looks back to the last time that there was a meaningful movement in this country, it ends looking forward to the return of a real, viable movement—what I think of as the “spiritual revolution.”