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One of Billy Webster’s greatest and early songs, “Mulberry Street,” in its first iteration was infused with a 10000 Maniacs–style lyrical and soulful sweetness that ably served the playful, updated Dr. Seuss conceit. In its re-tread, Webster has respectfully set master and mentor Natalie Merchant aside, discovering a harder and more urgent sound that astonishingly draws out the underbelly of the song, starkly demonstrating the profound impact of sonic choice on lyric takeaway, transforming what I heard twenty years ago as a pop affirmation (“And to think that my hope’s alive on Mulberry Street, my heart knows there’s somebody there,” or “It’s sad and it’s simple and it’s quiet and sweet”) into something darker and more complex (“I am hate and I am love, I’m the hawk and I’m the dove, and I know the meaning of embracing what you know is wrong,” and “Did you hear someone scream, are you caught in between, what you’ve heard and what you’ve seen, and what you’ve only read about,” and “Maybe there’s just nothing left to cling to,” or “You are Dunne and you are Poe, you will bleed the blood will flow, and as you come things will go, in a constant state of doubt”), and defiant (“I’m twisting into shape again, and I’m unashamed of where I’ve been”), again underscoring with literate fullness the dualities and paradoxes of love, with even its affirmations ambiguous: “She’s writing my name on the frostbitten sheet, and the letters dissolve in the air.”

Written & Produced by Billy Webster
Lead Guitar by Carl Basler
Recorded at The Jersey Dream
(c) Shampoo Girl Music

Lyrics

MULBERRY STREET

With a smile on my face
with my walk a little out of pace
I will have and I will waste
And I'll pretend to know what I want

I am hate and I am love
I'm the hawk and I'm the dove
And I know the meaning of
Embracing what you know is wrong

And to think that you saw me on Mulberry Street
It's hard to believe in a way
'Cause it's sad and it's simple and it's quiet and sweet
And I've always got something to say

Did you hear someone scream?
Are you caught in between
What you've heard and what you've seen
And what you've only read about?

You are Donne and you are Poe
You will bleed, the blood will flow
As you come, things will go
In a constant state of doubt

And to think that I saw you on Mulberry Street
Your name and your number have changed
And you steal you opinions from the people you meet
As if you had someone to blame

And maybe there's just nothing left to cling to
But you know what they say

That in a vague kind of way
It's a strange and sunny day
And I'm seeing life in gray
I'm twisting into shape again
And I'm unashamed of where I've been

And to think that my hope's alive on Mulberry Street
My heart knows there's somebody there
And she's writing my name on the frostbitten sheet
And the letters dissolve in the air