Escaping the present is rarely easy. These days it’s more difficult than ever. With a plethora of troublesome events filling the news airwaves and doubtful uncertainty at the forefront of everyone’s mind, even the most detached individuals must stand up and take notice.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter and novelist David Berkeley has never been one to shy away from confronting tough subject matter. On 2 November, he will be releasing his first collection of new music in three years. It’s an EP of politically minded songs called The Faded Red and Blue, a title that makes no bones about what kind of material lies within.
“I actually began writing this batch of songs just after the American presidential election in November of 2016,” says Berkeley. “I was in Washington, D.C., on tour with my new duo project Son of Town Hall. My bandmate Ben Parker and I wandered into the National Museum of American History and found ourselves standing in front of the American Flag that inspired the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. That beautiful old flag was profoundly and surprisingly moving. It looked particularly fragile. Like our democracy itself, it was worn and weathered. It seemed to be nearly falling apart. I felt both a great love and a great fear for our union on that day. I still feel that. I finished these songs in the spring of 2018 shortly after the Parkland shooting.”
However, despite these setbacks, Berkeley looks for hope in the midst of crisis. Rather than contribute the negativity and division, he hopes to bridge some common ground and reach out with dialogue. After all, finding and encouraging unity is a main purpose of being a troubadour.
“So I’ve looked for common ground, maybe even some shared humanity,” he continues. “I wrote these songs as much for me as for you. And I wrote them for my boys. To remind us all that we still live in a world that is worth loving, that is still worth holding dear.”
Berkeley has been at the musical game for a while now. Referred to as “double fantasy of Nick Drake and Donovan” by Rolling Stone, he’s been a guest on This American Life, and has won the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Competition and ASCAP’s coveted Johnny Mercer Songwriting Award. He’ll be out on tour following the EP’s release.
PopMatters is proud to premiere the track “This Be Dear to Me”, a track of the forthcoming EP. It’s a hauntingly beautiful track that perfectly encapsulates all that Berkeley does best while also giving a glimpse into the aforementioned mindset he brought into the writing process this time around.