Almost 40 years after Billy Joel sang about the decline of Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania, a former teacher’s latest track speaks to life in the company town of Sparrows Point.

“Company Town” by the R.J. Phillips Band, headed by songwriter and vocalist Joseph DeFilippo, tells the story of a steelworker living in a bungalow on E Street in the bygone town of Sparrows Point, located in the shadow of the also-bygone Bethlehem Steel mill where town residents worked.

DeFilippo, who taught social studies in schools throughout Baltimore County for 40 years, said his foray into music started when he started recording educational songs about historical topics for Baltimore County Public Schools alongside his brother.

Now 66, he’s retired from teaching. But a few years ago, he formed the R.J. Phillips Band, with a cadre he met through recording the school tunes in Woodlawn.

“Instead of limiting songs to school children, we wanted to cater towards adults” while still keeping a focus on history-based songs, DeFilippo said.

The band has performed songs saluting athlete Jesse Owens, honoring a textile workers strike and telling the story of the Catonsville Nine, a group of Catholic Vietnam War-era activists who took hundreds of draft files from the draft board office in Catonsville and burned them in the parking lot.

Usually not aiming for the charts, the band saw fame when their song “Freedom Rider,” a tune that focuses on civil rights activists who rode on segregated buses in the early 1960s, was featured in the 2018 Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman.

In the past year, the group has been focusing on songs to be donated to museums, with a 1920s ragtime piece being picked up by the Fire Museum of Maryland, and a sea shanty-style song getting airtime at the Richardson Maritime Museum in Cambridge.

DeFilippo, 66, said he had started writing “Company Town” years ago, inspired by class field trips to the Bethlehem Steel mill. But “with music, some songs come quickly, some can take a while to take off,” he said.

But “Company Town” kicked off when he heard the Baltimore Museum of Industry was seeking audio to accompany their new long-term exhibit on Bethlehem Steel, which opened up this September.

“Company Town” is streaming online on SoundCloud at sand/company-town.