MANHATTAN — The musical ode to Morton Street is a mystery no longer — the wistful ballad was penned by the artistic director of a neighborhood theater group to pay tribute to the storied past of her beloved little slice of the West Village.
Musician Randy Sharp, who is the artistic director of the local theater group Axis Company, said she wrote "Ghosts of Morton Street" and posted fliers about it in the area as an expression of affection for the Village and its notable characters.
"I was sitting at the piano, listening to people go by outside, and I was thinking about how much I love living here," said Sharp, who has resided on the street for 13 years. "We're all brief inhabiters of our neighborhoods, in the middle of a long line back and a long line ahead of us."
DNAinfo.com New York found Sharp by contacting Axis, after seeing the only online mention of the song on the group's Facebook page.
Created in early February by a five-person team that included a cellist, violinist and pianist, "Ghosts of Morton Street" sets up a musical guessing game of identifying famous and more obscure neighborhood characters described in the tune.
Sharp, 49, confirmed that the song's line about "John with his samurai sword" refers to comic John Belushi, who reportedly lived on the street.
A mention of "Patricia's Ripley" pays tribute to "The Talented Mr. Ripley" author Patricia Highsmith, who is said to have lived on Morton Street when she wrote the book in 1955.
And the line about "the old man [who] died on Christmas Eve" refers to a beloved neighbor named Guido who died a few years ago.
"He knew so much about the history of Morton and he always had a kind word for you," Sharp said, noting that she never knew his last name.
Sharp said she made the song anonymously because she wanted the tune and its message to be the focus, not her.
While real estate prices in the Village keep climbing and old-timers gradually leave, traces of the neighborhood's history remain, Sharp said.
"Every now and then you can catch a whisper of what it must have been like," she said. "That's what the song is about."
Fans of the song can find more music by members of the 17-year-old Axis Company, located at 1 Sheridan Square, on iTunes. The group's next play, "Last Man Club," will be performed starting March 7 and tells the story of a family living in the 1930s Dust Bowl.