Possibly 4th Street: Phosphorescent on the Williamsburg Shore


Possibly 4th Street is a regular SOTC feature in which Rob Trucks invites musicians to play songs somewhere, anywhere, in the five-borough public. Previously, Steve Wynn performed in a dog run and The Black Lips played a couple songs in Sara Roosevelt Park. Today, we’ve got the gorgeously plaintive Phosphorescent in Grand Ferry Park.

photo by Camille Dodero

Possibly 4th Street: Phosphorescent

by Rob Trucks
Crack audio and video recording
by Camille Dodero.

Volume I, Issue Five

Who: Phosphorescent, the recording name of Bed-Stuy resident Matthew Houck

Who Phosphorescent is today, October 4th: Matthew Houck, Ben McConnell, Jeff Bailey, Scott Stapleton, and Elizabeth Barfield

When: About six o’clock on Thursday evening

Where: Grand Ferry Park along the East River shore, in Williamsburg

Songs Played: “Wolves” (scroll for MP3), “Be Dark Night”

A book Matthew Houck has read at least twice:
Resuscitation of a Hanged Man (by Denis Johnson)”

A movie he’s seen at least three times:
Mulholland Drive.

The album he’s listened to more than any other in his life:
Another Side of Bob Dylan.

The circumstances under which he wrote “Wolves,” the highlight of Phosphorescent’s recently released Pride:
“It was specific about . . . . I was living with a girl and, and it was, something about, something about . . . . We had talked about some stuff and kind of . . . . I don’t know. It’s hard to know exactly what really, but it’s something about . . . .”

Was this morning? Afternoon? At night?
“Morning, morning. Morning with that one.”

Okay, so you’d been talking about some stuff . . .
“Well, maybe not talking about some stuff. Maybe going through some stuff, and it was all just kind of how there was always . . . . I mean, you know, it’s pretty just metaphorical, pretty directly metaphorical on purpose to where it’s not too specific where you can kind of apply whatever you want to it, I hope.”

Is she in the room when you write it?

You have to leave the room that she’s in in order to write it.
“I do.”

But she’s awake.
“She’s awake.”

More about “Wolves”:
It’s the first song Houck wrote upon arriving in New York and the only song (so far) that he’s written on ukulele. The orchestration is sparse (a bass drum here, an acoustic guitar there), though still a sturdy bedrock for layer upon layer of voices (yea verily it’s a 21st-century Gregorian chant by way of Brooklyn), thin like a cabin window without insulation, vulnerable, and hauntingly transparent. What remains is something tenuous, transforming and, in just the right light (say, sundown on the East River), resoundingly timeless.

Phosphorescent, “Wolves (Live on the East River Shore)” (MP3)

Phosphorescent plays Silent Barn this Friday November 9 ( and the Cake Shop November 10 (

photo by Camille Dodero

Matthew Houck
photo by Rob Trucks

For video of Phosphorescent performing “Wolves” on the East River shore, click below on that “read on” link. For further discourse on this October afternoon, consult the piece that also ran in print over here.

Matthew Houck and Elizabeth Barfield
photo by Rob Trucks

The Black Lips in Sara Roosevelt Park
Steve Wynn in a Dog Run