Matt Pless is the only Baltimorean who will be featured on Occupy This Album, the CD being produced to benefit the Occupy movement. It comes out this spring with over 50 artists including Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Crosby and Nash, Debbie Harry and Willie Nelson. Pless is also credited as the one who inspired the album, according to a report in Forbes which quoted the album’s producer, Jason Samel, as being “blown away by a singer-songwriter playing on some steps with a guitar and a harmonica” at Occupy Wall Street, last fall. The singer was Matt Pless of Catonsville.
“I’ve been making up songs and singing since I was in third grade,” said the Catonsville High grad. “Each week, I’d go up to the front of the class, snap my fingers and sing a new song.” Pless has released seven CDs — three of which he performs solo — with his original songs.
I first heard Pless sing five years ago at the open mike night at Ryan’s Daughter on Northern Parkway. With a head full of curls bobbing, his converse sneakers tapping, Pless was — hands down — the voice to hear that night. A song stayed with me, one of its lines resonating:
Pay attention when the helmets hit the ground.
“I’m really not a political songwriter,” Pless said. “I just write songs about everything I can think of.” His song on Occupy This Album is called “Something’s Got to Give.” He added that he wrote it in Zuccotti Park about “what I felt when I saw all the energy around me.” Pless slept in the park on occasion during the Occupy event and crashed on the couches of friends in Brooklyn.
Pless works temporary jobs to earn enough to support his music, and another bus ticket to New York.