David Berkeley

David Berkeley

 Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
BandFolkSinger/Songwriter

Dubbed "a musical poet" by the SF Chronicle and praised for his "lustrous melancholy voice" by the NY Times, David Berkeley's songs unfold like richly layered stories, full of heartbreak and hope. A standout guest on This American Life, he's about to release his most ambitious and exciting project yet: a novella of ten interweaving stories and an album of ten accompanying songs (sung loosely from the perspective of the main character of each story). The book and album will release 9/25/15.

Biography

Santa Fe-based songwriter and author David Berkeley writes
songs capable of both breaking and mending the
heart. The San Francisco Chronicle
calls him a “musical poet,” and the New
York Times
praises his “lustrous, melancholy voice with shades of Tim
Buckley and Nick Drake.” He’s released five studio albums, one live album and
authored a book. Berkeley’s current project comes out September 25th,
2015. It’s his most exciting and ambitious yet: a novella comprising ten
intertwining stories and an album of ten accompanying songs (one for each
story).


The album Cardboard
Boat
features Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) on background vocals and
Berkeley’s all-star band, Jordan Katz (De La Soul, Sara Bareilles, Dan Bern),
Mathias Kunzli (Regina Spektor), Lex Price (K.D. Lang, Peter Bradley Adams),
Will Robertson (Shawn Mullins, Eliot Bronson), Kort McCumber (Moors and
McCumber), and Bill Titus (Dan Bern). Recorded by Jono Manson in the wilds of
Chupdero, NM, it features Berkeley’s most compelling writing to date. Each song
is sung loosely from the perspective of the main character in each story of
Berkeley’s book.


That book, entitled The
Free Brontosaurus
(Rare Bird Lit) is a collection of stories all set in the
same fictional city. The characters are all off kilter and struggle to find
connection. Each sees (or creates) beauty in strange places. And ultimately it
is art and, when they meet, each other, that brings redemption. These are
narratives of isolation that, like Berkeley’s songs, manage to uplift in the
end. It’s a bit like Olive Kitteredge
if authored with the whimsy and humor Miranda July.


“I’m fascinated by the relationship between stories and
songs,” Berkeley explains. “What experiences make for a good story? And what is
only expressible in song?” Indeed, this was something Berkeley explored with
his first book/album combination.  140 Goats and a Guitar accompanied Berkeley’s
album Some Kind of Cure (2012). Both were written primarily during the
year Berkeley lived on the island of Corsica. Goats tells thirteen stories, the stories that lay behind the
writing of the album’s thirteen songs. This unique concept allowed Berkeley to
perform in bookstores across the country, as well as his usual clubs and
theaters.


“Dashing singer-songwriter David Berkeley delivers
his warm, thoughtful songs, along with a reliably hilarious line in onstage
banter.” - Time Out New York


Berkeley
tours extensively all over the country and world (he’s touring the UK, Germany, France and NL this month). He’s opened/toured with
Dido, Don McLean, Ben Folds, Billy Bragg, Ray Lamontagne, Nickel Creek and many
more. He was a Kerrville New Folk Finalist this year and was a finalist at the
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. He’s performed on Mountain Stage, The World
Café, the Sundance Film Festival, South by Southwest, XM Loft Sessions,
Acoustic Café...


Berkeley has also been moonlighting of late as a sort of
Cyrano de Bergerac, writing high-ticket personalized love songs, serenades, and
songs to accompany wedding proposals. Perhaps inspired by the hilarious tale
Berkeley told on “This American Life” of one such private serenade, Berkeley is
frequently flown in to perform these songs in the most intimate situations.
“It’s been an honor,” Berkeley explains, “to get to play a role in such
important moments in other’s lives, but it can also be incredibly awkward. Some
of these situations, wedding proposals for example, are really meant to shared
between only two people.”


In addition to this curious arm of his career, Berkeley has
also made a name for himself in the dance clubs of Europe. He is in high demand
by some of the world’s best-known DJs to write and record vocals and lyrics for
trance songs. Beatport named Berkeley one of the world’s top 50 male trance
vocalists. 


“Berkeley crafts his songs like watercolor
paintings. Intimate and introspective, his gentle yet colorful melodies are
graceful and resonate long after the last note fades.”  – Creative
Loafing
, Atlanta


David Berkeley’s gift as a songwriter and storyteller is
that he sees both the tragedy and comedy in life, managing to both reveal the
sorrow at the heart of the human condition and the blazing joy and beauty in
the same. It’s a duality that audiences experience at all of Berkeley’s shows
as he tells uproarious stories between cathartic songs. It’s also why his fans
respond so deeply to his music and why so many look to him to express what they
are often unable to articulate. Berkeley’s songs are at once hard and hopeful. 

Lyrics

Fire Sign

Written By: David Berkeley

You should have told me.
Seemed like an ordinary day
Everything seemed to be okay

Did it hurt you?
These are the scars you never show.
She is a fire sign, you know
One day you’re near and then you go

Here is a photograph, what do you see?
There’s nothing there but me.

They deceive you
There is a wall you have to climb
The echoes in your mind

You surrender
These are the lessons that you learn
nobody hears no one’s concerned
One day it’s clear and then you burn

Here is a photograph, what do you see?
I'm sorry it's just me.
Oh in the aftermath, it's hard to breathe and harder to believe.

Even just a sound. And all your cards are down.
Even just a sound.
Let me lay you down. Don’t have to make a sound.
I would lay you down

It surrounds you
These are the scars you never show.
She is a fire sign, you know
One day you’re near and then you go

Willis Avenue Bridge

Written By: David Berkeley

She’s driving home Sunday morning
w/ the heat turned up the windows rolled down to the edge
Yesterday snowed for the first time
And no one’s on the willis avenue bridge
It used to be a hard merge

thinking back on new york city
the first boy she kissed, the first boy that she crossed
now everbody’s in their 20s,
look who got married, look who’s lost
used to be a heart break, used to be a heartbreak…

and the fall of 100 things
the hint of an opening

Days like this, it’s hard to pull over
Hard to hold all of the memories in your mind
She tries to readjust the rearview,
so no one has to ever fall far behind
used to be much harder, she used to be much harder…

And the fall of 100 things
The hint of an opening
And the fall of 100 things
The hint of an opening

With all the glass in New York City
It should be harder to hide, not so hard to find your way back home
They can take back all their pity, it’s not a one-way ride nowhere to hold on, no going home, no way to slow down…

She’s driving home, Sunday morning
The heat turned up the windows down to the edge
Yesterday, snowed for the first time.
Now no one’s on the willis avenue bridge

Parachute

Written By: David Berkeley

Driving back to massachuetts in your father’s car
Top down, we saw all the stars
I’ve been waiting for the fall to get back where you are
Top down and alk about it all
Top down. Top down.

Your heart is like a parachute it only opens when you fall
Ba ba ba ba…

Driving back to Massachusetts in your father’s car
Broke down, yeah we broke down
Lying back against the windshield, cars were blowing by
You cried, wrapped up in my arms, you cried. You cried.

Your heart is like a parachute, it only opens when you fall
Your heart is like a parachute it opens when you’re falling down
Look at me, I’m falling now, come let me pull you

Oh you and I
Autumn sky
Trying to see too far.

Oh Autumn Sky, you and I, trying to see so far.
ba ba ba ba ba ba ba

Driving back to Massachusetts
I believe this is who we are
I believe
Your heart is like a parachute, it keeps us both from falling down
Yeah, your heart is like a parachute, it keeps us both from falling now.
Ba ba ba…

The Blood and the Wine

Written By: David Berkeley

Tell me that you still remember
When we caught lightning in a jar

You have put the sway back in the grass
And you have put the fire back in me

There were times when you were hiding
And I know I’ve been hard to hold

But you have put the wine back in the glass
You have put the blood back in me

There’s a blue house in the distance
There’s a stream beside it, too

You have put the sails back on the mast
You have put the breeze back in me
Oh oh oh
Oh my word
Oh oh oh
Oh my word
Yeah, you have put the wine back in the glass
You have put the blood back in me

George Square

Written By: David Berkleey

She was walking cross George Square in the rain
I was high, I was so high in a plane
Trying to see through the clouds
Looking for places we’d been
Like a sign like a sunburst or the letters in her name

Oh no, don’t change, your hair for me now
I am on your side
No girl don’t don’t hide your hands from me now
I am on your side

She was walking quite slowly all alone
All the lights in the windows were aglow
But the statues they were so silent
With the rain splashing their heads
how bad she wanted to hear them tell her which way was best

Oh no don’t change, your dress for me now
I am on your side
Oh girl don’t hide your eyes from me now
I am on your side
I am on your side

We were back in George Square when the rain gave way
Something in how the spring comes so suddenly
And the dress she wore was yellow
And the rain was in her hair
How bad I wanted to tell her that I would always be there

Oh no don’t change, don’t change please don’t change.
I am on your side
No girl don’t hide your heart from me now
I am on my way down
I am on your side
I’ll be on your side

Steel Mill

Written By: David Berkeley

There’s a steel mill, shut down when spring came
My dad worked his life there
I was doing the same

Now I don’t know what to do with my days
The kingdom comes to workmen
So the preacher he says

And there’s voices, sometimes well you know
and the devil comes a knockin’
when the money gets low

Sing with me please. Oh da lee Oh da la Oh da lee.

Oh it’s not like I liked working there
the fire and the shovel
the smoke in my hair

Oh but lord, it’s all I know
I miss being needed
Having somewhere to go

And there’s voices, sometimes well you know
and the devil comes a knockin’
when the bottle gets low

Sing with me please. Oh da lee. Oh da la. Oh da lee.

There’s a woman who gave me the will
And her name is Gracie
She believes in my still

And my name is Joseph
But it could well be Job
I don’t mean to harm you
With the hurt that I hold

Cause it’s a story
Told around every bend
A man works his heart out
And is broke in the end.

So sing with me please. Oh da lee. Oh da la. Oh da lee.
Sing with me please. Oh da lee.

There’s a steel mill shut down when spring came.
Dad gave his life there, I was doing the same.

There was a steel mill shut down when spring came
I gave my life there
suppose I’d do it again

Shelter

Written By: David Berkeley

On my way back home
Feeling so alone again
When I saw the light was on
But everything was wrong
I thought I knew

In the school yard then
I remember when you smiled
The quiet in your eyes
Still gives me butterflies
you know you do

All that we’ve been through
Be with me
I won’t leave you
All that we’ve been through
Don’t leave me
I’ll shelter you

I’m my father’s son
Trying to catch the ones who fall
and all the ones you’re near
seems to disappear
no matter what you do

Been trying to hold it all
Like trying to build a wall with sand
Or a hand full of cards
And the wind is blowing hard
Do you feel it too?

Chorus:
All that we’ve been through
Be with me
I won’t leave you
All that we’ve been through
Don’t leave me
I’ll shelter you

No matter what you do
I'll shelter you

Mother look at me
I am trying to be
So strong
But all along I see
Things that shouldn’t be
Tell me what is true

All that we’ve been through
Be with me
I won’t leave you
All that we’ve been through
Don’t leave me
I’ll shelter you

No matter what you do
I'll shelter you
No matter what you do
I'll shelter you

Discography

The Fire in My Head (2013)
Some Kind of Cure (2011)
140 Goats and a Guitar: The Stories Behind Some Kind of Cure (memoir, published 2011)
Strange Light (produced by Brian Deck--2009)
Live from Fez (2005)
After The Wrecking Ships (2004)
The Confluence (2002)

Highlights:
Recently penned "Shelter" for the new Harlan Coben novel (song being used for Penguin's promotional videos and campaign)
Collaborations and co-writes with trance djs including Sean Tyas gaining major traction worldwide
Some Kind of Cure charting strongly at AAA and Folk
Fire Sign from Wrecking Ships was featured in Without a Trace on CBS-TV
Recent guest on Ira Glass' This American Life--telling a story and playing several songs from Strange Light.
Hurricane and Willis Ave Bridge received significant AAA play.
Red from After the Wrecking Ships received considerable airplay on AAA including WXPN, WFUV, KPFA, WXRV, XM Radio
The BBC is playing songs from Strange Light and Wrecking Ships
XM Satelite Radio plays several songs off Some Kind of Cure, Strange Light and Wrecking Ships.
United Airlines radio featured Jefferson.
David has showcased at SXSW, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Folks Festival, 30A Songwriters Festival, London City Music Festival, performed on Daytrotter, the World Cafe, Mountain Stage, Sunday Breakfast on WFUV, the Lodge Sessions on XM, Acoustic Cafe, Art of Song and many other syndicated programs and local radio stations.
He has also become a favorite on the house concert circuit including Blue Rock, Uncle Calvin's, Memphis House Concerts and many many more.

Set List

No covers, unless they're demanded. Typical set runs 45-90 minutes