Richard Berman

Richard Berman


Lyric-driven songs ranging from humorous to love to the poignant, many in story form.


"This man has the gift." So said the late Utah Phillips, legendary figure in American folk music, after hearing Richard Berman sing at the Kerrville Folk Festival's Ballad Tree in 1992. And Richard has used that gift to write many songs that tell moving, true stories. "Gil’s Song”, the song that prompted Utah Phillip's appraisal, is the tale of a Wyoming sheepherder's one brief attempt at closeness and its consequences. Humor, too, is part of Richard’s performance, as in “Monopoly”, his first-person account of the power of that game on behavior, and “The Kids Are Back”, his take on the latest stage in family development, both songs from Richard’s second CD, Love Work and Play. His third CD, Dreamer, included his first songs of requited love, “A Love Song” and “Here And Now” and the haunting "The Fortune Told". Both Love, Work and Play and Dreamer were chosen “One of the Best Folk Albums” of 1996 and 1998, respectively, by Rich Warren, host of "The Midnight Special" on WFMT in Chicago, the longest continuously running folk radio show in the country. Richard’s Storied Lives won the 2001 Just Plain Folks Award for “Best Traditional Folk” CD. It includes the memorable, ironic story song "On the Mexican Coast", a song featured on the compilation disks Artists for Change and Songs for a Better Planet, Vol.II. 2005 saw the release of Holding Hands which was chosen one of the “Top Ten Albums” of the year by Maggie Ferguson of WXOU and one the eleven “Essential CDs” of 2005 by Bill Hahn of WFDU.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Richard left the city to go to college in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has lived most of his adult life in Amherst, Massachusetts with his wife and two children. Richard received an MSW and worked as a therapist for years with children and families. He has also taught as a classroom teacher in the Amherst public schools. Drawing on his experiences as a husband, therapist, teacher, father and son, he has written songs that impart his understandings of people and their situations in direct and compelling ways.

Richard first received national recognition in folk circles for his work by winning the 1992 Napa Valley Folk Festival's Emerging Songwriters Contest. He went on to win the 1995 South Florida Folk Festival's songwriting contest, was selected to showcase at the 1997 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and was chosen to do so again in 2001. In 1999 Richard won the Sierra Songwriters Festival’s songwriting contest. In 2000 he was a finalist at The Wildflower Festival’s songwriting contest, the winner of the Rose Garden Coffeehouse Songwriting Contest and was chosen to be a finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival songwriting contest, a selection that was repeated in 2001. In 2003 he won the Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival’s songwriting contest. Over the past dozen years Richard has performed in coffeehouses, clubs, festivals and house concerts in the Northeast, the Southwest, and California, and has toured England, Wales and Sweden. Among the clubs he has played at is the Bluebird Café in Nashville, TN, where he was selected to showcase in 1994 and came back to play again in 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2009.


There Is No Gold

Written By: Richard Berman

You make it easy to smile
Something I do more and more
You only have to cross my mind
Or come walking through the door

There is no gold in your hair
There is no silver on your tongue
No diamonds sparkle round your neck
All that glitters you have shunned

I have never found myself
As close as this to someone else

I have failed at love before
Always the one to pull away
But when you hold me in your arms
I am at peace and unafraid

I ask, “How can this be?
That you love me as I am?”
You tell me a girl may love a dream
But a woman loves a man

With you the walls could not go up
That keep in my thoughts and keep out love

It’s said that all good things must end
Well I don’t believe that’s true
I believe all good things must change
And I believe I’ll change with you

You, Me and Bobbie McGee

Written By: Richard Berman

1. There are songs I have heard
I may not know all the words
Still, when I hear them they’re old friends
Some awaken memories
Like this song ‘bout Bobbie McGee
It brings you back to me again

2. If I close my eyes
I can still see that ride
Midnight past the shore of Coeur D’Alene
The moon was on the lake
I could glimpse its silver face
And yours in shades of gray

Feeling good was easy then, so easy to be fooled
I was sure love endures
There’s no trading my tomorrows for those yesterdays with you
If I could, I surely would

3. You’d rolled my sweater in a ball
Your pillow ‘gainst the door
Sleeping as we climbed the Bitteroots
I’d switched the radio on
It softly offered up its songs
I hummed on some I knew

4. Then came this song I didn’t know
‘Bout a lover and her beau
Thumbing down a diesel in Baton Rouge
I ‘specially liked that line
‘Bout the wipers slapping time
As those lovers sang every song that driver knew

Freedom’s just a word, she sang, for nothing left to lose
I did not know if that was so
Didn’t cross my mind back then that one day I’d lose you
And there I’d be, alone and free

5. We sang songs, you and I
For a good part of our ride
Seemed to me we were singing right on key
But what did I know of love?
I thought we had enough
What we had was only good enough for me

6. No big “Good-bye”
Our hug was gentle that last time
I said I hoped you’d find the love you sought
You never did look back
I watched you fade into my past
That sweater draped on you like a shawl

I wonder have you ever driven late into the night
With the radio on, and you hear this song
And you find that you are smiling as you’re drawn back to our ride
And for a moment in time you have regrets like mine

Repeat first verse


"Bittersweet" (1992)
"Love, Work and Play" (1996)
"Dreamer" (1998)
"Storied Lives" (2000)
"Holding Hands" (2005)
"Now and Then" (2008)