Mysterious Morton Street Anthem Tests Knowledge of West Village History
WEST VILLAGE — How well do you really know the West Village?
A mysterious song posted online with no credits and no identifying info about Morton Street asks people to participate in a musical guessing game to identify notable neighborhood characters described in the tune.
"Ghosts of Morton Street," a ballad sung by an unidentified female vocalist and posted online, bemoans the loss of the famous figures who once populated the area, including "John with his samurai sword" — an apparent reference to John Belushi, who legend has it once lived on the street.
"Can you name the people mentioned?" the site asks, with no other details. Fliers spotted hanging from light posts in the area Monday provided a link to the website but no other information.
"People of some future day, I raise my glass to you and say, take care of this place and if we should meet, by then we'll both be ghosts of Morton Street," the song ends.
The only online hint about the source of the song can be found on the Axis Theater Company's Facebook page. The group based at 1 Sheridan Square — just two blocks from the eastern end of Morton Street — posted the link without comment.
Axis did not immediately respond to an inquiry about "The Ghosts of Morton Street."
Online commenters started taking guesses Friday about the identities of some of the cryptic past residents.
"'I’m thinking John with his samurai sword' is John Belushi," an anonymous commenter wrote. "Not sure if he lived on Morton St., but I have a picture in my mind of him walking home from an SNL taping early Sunday morning wearing his samurai costume."
Want to give figuring out the Morton Street characters your best shot? DNAinfo jotted them down:
"On Morton Street, some of the older trees are dying
In the back out long ago, I heard my neighbor sighing
Then I heard his phone ring just like in the olden days
When everybody's phone rang the same
On Morton Street, the old man died on Christmas Eve
The garage guys who mourned him said he seemed all sad to leave
He told me once my house had been a restaurant saloon
And you know once in the ground I found a spoon
Back and forth in shades of gray, those who lived here yesterday
There goes John with his samurai sword
Hear the noise from the bars at five and four
See Patricia's Ripley is just like her
See the ghosts in the eyes of the Rosenbergs
Soon I'll be gone, let go of the slender reed
My window box is empty and my garden gone to seed
But hopefully someday someone else will come along
And with a little luck, they'll sing this song
People of some future day, I raise my glass to you and say
Take care of this place and if we should meet
By then we'll both be ghosts of Morton Street"