Today is a big day for Matt Nathanson, Bernal’s celebrity rockstar next door.
Around here, he’s Neighbor Matt, a musician from the southeast side of the hill who often draws creative inspiration from walks around the neighborhood. (Just like us!!) Last March, he told Bernalwood:
Oh man, Bernal Heights IS my muse: Walking the hill, writing at Progressive Grounds, eating breakfast at Precita Park Cafe or Moonlight. I am a card carrying Bernal Heights superfan, and most of the lyrics for this record were written here. When I’m not on tour, I am hard-pressed to leave the 94110.
That’s the Neighbor Matt we know here in Bernal. But beyond our hill, he is MATT NATHANSON, a singer-songwriter with a successful career, a nationwide following, and legions of fans who say things like:
Now, you’re probably wondering: What exactly is a Matt Nathanson kind of morning? Is it kind of foggy, with chance of sun by noon? Does it taste like a Sandbox Bakery croissant? Does it involve wearing a nylon track suit and taking a dog for a walk while carrying a little plastic bag to pick up the business?
We have no idea. But this is a small sampling of tweets about Neighbor Matt from just the last 72 hours, so you get a sense of his wow-power.
Anyway, this is a very very big day for Neighbor Matt, because he’s officially releasing his new album today. It’s called The Last of the Great Pretenders, it was recorded in Noe Valley, and it contains a lot of San Francisco allusions, as he told Bernalwood back in March:
On past records, I think I’ve been too self-conscious to write lyrics that were super-specific to my own life. I felt safe in the vague. With this record, I really wanted to dig in to the places I know and the places where I live. It definitely became a VERY San Francisco record.
I love that [Last of the Great Pretenders] is a tribute to the love [Matt Nathanson] has for his town, San Francisco. He has found the extraordinary in the ordinary. It reminds me to take a look at what is good in my life and my town and embrace the beauty of it all. To see beyond any pain. To let in the new. To find the good. To embrace change. This album has a depth and a story.
Later today, Neighbor Matt will be at Amoeba Records on Haight to do a free show starting at 5:30. Then, to support the album, he will embark on a nationwide tour so ambitious and far-flung that just looking at the schedule makes me feel homesick.
For now, though, let’s just say congratulations to Neighbor Matt on the new record, and let’s keep a candle burning for him here in Bernal Heights as he roams across the nation from stage to stage, like a Cortlandia version of Steve Perry in that wistful old Journey video.
Speaking of videos… here’s the big single from Neighbor Matt’s new album, chock full o’ local flavor:
And here’s another song from the album. It’s called “Kinks Shirt.” If this article is to be believed, it’s all about a cute waitress at Toast Eatery on 24th Street in Noe Valley:
PHOTO: Top, Matt Nathanson from Neighbor Matt. Below, album montage via 52 Weeks of Music.