Why Did This Guy Put a Song About Me on Spotify?

I don’t want to make this all about me, but have you heard the song “Brett Martin, You a Nice Man, Yes”?

I guess probably not. On Spotify, “Brett Martin, You a Nice Man, Yes” has not yet accumulated enough streams to even register a tally, despite an excessive number of plays in at least one household that I can personally confirm. Even I, the titular Nice Man, didn’t hear the 1 minute 14 second song until last summer, a full 11 years after it was uploaded by an artist credited as Papa Razzi and the Photogs. I like to think this is because of a heroic lack of vanity, though it may just be evidence of very poor search skills.

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When I did stumble on “Brett Martin, You a Nice Man, Yes,” I naturally assumed it was about a different, more famous Brett Martin: perhaps Brett Martin, the left-handed reliever who until recently played for the Texas Rangers; or Brett Martin, the legendary Australian squash player; or even Clara Brett Martin, the Canadian who in 1897 became the British Empire’s first female lawyer. Only when the singer began referencing details of stories that I made for public radio’s “This American Life” almost 20 years ago did I realize it actually was about me. The song ended, “I really like you/Will you be my friend?/Will you call me on the phone?” Then it gave a phone number, with a New Hampshire area code.

So, I called.

It’s possible that I dialed with outsize expectations. The author of this song, whoever he was, had been waiting 11 long years as his message in a bottle bobbed on the digital seas. Now, at long last, here I was! I spent serious time thinking about how to open the conversation, settling on what I imagined was something simple but iconic, on the order of “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” After one ring, a male voice answered.

I said: “This is Brett Martin. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to call.”

The man had no idea who I was.

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