New York stories: Phosphorescent

Brooklyn-based songwriter Matthew Houck is still swept away by his adopted city—vomit, rats and all

Photograph: Dusdin Condren

That New York City skyline is really something to me. Like, I’ve never been to Egypt or seen the Great Pyramids, but I imagine they evoke a very similar kind of feeling…in that it’s such a grand display of human possibility. And you know, what’s amazing is that, time after time, it doesn’t stop being majestic and impressive, even after you’ve lived in the city for a while and have seen past that illusion. I mean, I’ve stood on a subway platform at 4am and watched rats fighting each other to the death over a pile of human vomit, and yet still somehow every time I see that skyline it gives off the promise of some graceful, magic land.

There’s a view from the BQE, if you’re heading north and you’re just south of Manhattan—I think that’s one of the best. If you’re lucky enough to be riding a motorcycle on that stretch at night, you’re in for a real treat. And anytime coming back into town after a tour—when that skyline hits the horizon you just kind of can’t help but sit there and be inspired and awestruck all over again.

Phosphorescent plays Music Hall of Williamsburg Wed 18–Sat 21.

Listen to "Song for Zula" by Phosphorescent: