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The Sunday Read: ‘Why Did This Guy Put a Song About Me on Spotify?’

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 19 May 2024

⏱️ 31 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


Have you heard the song “Brett Martin, You a Nice Man, Yes”? Probably not. On Spotify, “Brett Martin, You a Nice Man, Yes” has not yet accumulated enough streams to even register a tally. Even Brett Martin, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and 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. When Martin stumbled on “Brett Martin, You a Nice Man, Yes,” he 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 he made for public radio’s “This American Life” almost 20 years ago did he realize the song was actually about him. 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, he called.

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Hi, I'm Brett Martin. I'm a contributor to the New York Times magazine and I live in New Orleans.


I genuinely don't remember what made me search for my name on Spotify one day last summer.


It's possible I was looking for a podcast I'd been on or maybe it was the kind of search


that we all do once in a while just to procrastinate or just out of vanity


In any event, I must never have done this particular search before because the first thing I saw was a song titled


Brett Martin, you a nice man, yes.


And it had been up there for 11 years.


Now there are many Brett Martins in this world,


several much more famous than I am.


There's a Major League Baseball player, an Australian squash legend, some historical figures,


but obviously I press play. And at first, the words are generic enough.


Brett Martin, you're a radio guy.


You're a writer man. You're a right to man.


You're a reporter do.


Granted, these are somewhat uncannily like my life,


but I'm just thinking this is hysterical.


This is my new theme song.


Oh, Brett Martin, you're... thinking this is hysterical this is my new theme song.


Oh Brett Martin you're a wonderful person you're a nice man I really like you.


There's a line about you tell good stories and I think this is fabulous this is even more like me.


But then a couple of really specific details stop me in my tracks.


Brett Martin, you cry on airplanes, you watch Sweet Home Alabama, and you start to cry a lot.


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