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

Its Inclusion

Matthew Lacques
Matthew Lacques

“Street Song” is a highly compressed overview of my book Street Song. Oddly, I’d never considered including it until one afternoon when I used it as a warmup during a rehearsal with Matthew Lacques for another song he plays on. Matthew liked the song and told me I should record it, which should have been obvious. I don’t know what I was thinking. I wrote it nearly 40 years ago and had never given it a title. So, it became “Street Song.”

The Recording

One of the songs I used to sing on the street was Dylan’s theme song for the movie Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, “Billy.” I wrote “Street Song” with the sound of “Billy” in mind—sort of Tex-Mex. I asked Matthew to come up with something in that vein for his lead guitar work, and he did a brilliant job. I thought accordion would complement the two guitars nicely, and Bruce Gordon, one of the premier accordion players in the country, was just the man for it. Later, we added Paul Olguin’s bass part, Bruce Kaphan on percussion, and a brief piano part by Benny Watson.

I sing the song in a duet with Katelyn Lawson. When I finished the first major draft of Street Song (the book) I looked for a young test reader. I don’t intend the book to be a story about the 60s and 70s. But that is the book’s setting, and I wanted to make sure I’d written it in a way that someone who didn’t live through that era would get it. A mutual friend recommended Katelyn, who was 19 at the time. I needed a female voice to sing one line in “Street Song,” and when Katelyn told me she sang, I auditioned her for the part. She could indeed sing—marvelously—and we ended up singing the entire song together.

To see a video for the song on YouTube, click here.