The Confluence

The Confluence

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A lot of this started with Tyler Gibbons. We went to college together and became fast friends. He’s an incredible songwriter, bassist, composer, builder, etc. I looked up to his craft and tried to emulate it. I also managed a band he was in for a while. Ty and I took some time off from college and moved to Santa Cruz to write music. He wrote like twenty great songs. I wrote two. One I called “Moon Song.” One I called “Miss Maybe.” Both eventually ended up on The Confluence.

A few years later, I met Alex Weinstein. Alex was a phenomenal guitarist and just getting started as a producer. I played him a few of my songs. It was the first time anyone (other than my mom) seemed to respond to what I had written. I remember sharing a batch of songs with him and waiting nervously for his thoughts. There were several songs (like “Golden Side” and “Stillness”) that I was pretty unsure of. Alex loved them. Felt amazing. I never thought much of my writing until then. Over then next months, he and I decided to make a record together. I kept writing. He kept encouraging.

During the summer and fall of 2001, we went to a number of spots to record: his grandmother’s attic in Rye Brook, NY, an amazing house up near Carmel, NY, a little studio in lower Manhattan and a studio up in Boston. Tyler played bass and sang. His wife-to-be, the also amazing Robin McArthur sang. The great Adam Buchwald played mandolin (and would become my go-to sideman for years until he stopped touring to become a luthier and eventually made my guitars). Alex played guitars. Another friend from college named Andrew Eggers played drums. A phenomenal talent named Greg Beyer played all sorts of percussion. That was the core.

Recording this record was one of the highlights of my life. Everything was new. Thinking about my songs seriously. Considering arrangement choice. Learning about recording. Discovering happy accidents where two parts together created something transcendent. Hearing my voice through a great microphone. Going to sleep with my head still echoing with the songs. Dreaming of music.

We also happened to be recording on September 11th. Luckily, we weren’t working that day in the NY studio, for that space was right near Ground Zero. Instead we were in Boston. I was with Andy Eggers, talking to him about my ambivalence toward New York (where I was then living) to get him in the mood to record my song “Drowning,” which is about New York City going down in a great flood. We pulled up to parking attendant at a parking lot gate and watched on a little T.V. in his booth as the first plane hit the tower. We didn’t know what to do. Eventually, after making sure everyone we knew was relatively safe and okay, we stayed in the studio and recorded. We worked all day and night. Alex and I actually slept in the control room. It was so quiet that night.

The songs on this record are the first I ever wrote. When I listen now, I hear an innocence and a purity that is only on this record. I was just finding my voice, both as a singer and as a writer. It’s exciting, and it’s sweet. I never perform the title track (last on the record). But I still think it’s one of the prettier songs I’ve ever written.


Straw Man
Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2002

A quiet, lonely day on America’s highway, and traveling takes its toll. The highway’s windy roll didn’t open up her soul the way I thought it would. And I don’t think that’s good. I guess I thought it would have been the best she’d seen.

The straw man’s off the clock. She’s waiting for his knock in her underwear. His foot falls on the stair. She greets him with the glare that says he’ll have to fall. But with her back up against the wall, she suddenly recalls the straw man’s just her dream.

It’s never quite so clean. She makes the world around me seem lavender and wintergreen when we’re side by side.
Now the straw man’s been let loose. My dream’s have been reduced by a quest for fame.
Still the straw man feels no pain. She realized in shame, and then the game is back. Then blue fades into black. Then time takes back the slack she had when just seventeen.

It’s never quite so clean. I make the world around her seem lavender and wintergreen when we’re side by side.
Still a quiet, lonely day on America’s highway, and I am almost home. Pick up the phone.
Say that living life alone ain’t how the story ends. You know, I am here to mend,
but how much can she bend till on my side she’ll lean.

A Moon Song
Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2002

A green-eyed boy, he met an autumn-eyed girl. And she said, “Take your time, I’m from the other side of the world.” And there were rules to be broken; there were differences to mend.
But when he looked into her eyes, there was no way he could pretend.
And she said, “truth is sorrow, we will never be that way.”
And he said, “truth is pleasure, that is all there is to say.”
But some say, “truth is hidden it lies very far below.”
But I say, “truth is beauty. That is all you need to know.”

Now I’m falling like the snow. You are like the moon. I watch you as you grow.
Now you’re falling like the snow. And I’m hanging on the moon; I watch you far below.
And so I stand upon the wreckage of the kingdom of the world, and I stare upon the ruins and remember this girl. You see, the boy would be her nightingale if she would be his muse. But when she looked into his eyes, there was nothing she could refuse. And so the green-eyed boy he kissed the autumn-eyed girl. There kiss is painted on the urn, watch it as it twirls.

City of the Second Hand
Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2002

In the City of the Second Hand—rags and bones.
Look down, look down—rusted throne.
Cling close to what you’ve gathered here when you’re alone.
Look down, look down on your scraps and stones.

I’m not placing blame. In the end we are all the same. And nothing will change till then.
Still somehow it’s strange: If no one falls, no one gains. Yeah, somehow that’s strange in the end.

In the City of the Second Hand, who’s the savior?
Slow down, slow down for what’s in store.
Lines are drawn into the avenue, into the core.
Slow down slow down when more is more.

And all she said so far, is “don’t forget who you are.” No, don’t forget, who you are.

Autumn snuck inside a taxi car, windows open.
Fall down, fall down for no reason.
When the city lets the seasons change cement softens.
Fall down, fall down in the end.

Golden Side
Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2012

I sing a song for the seasons. Yeah even when I was small, summer tumbled down to fall.
I would ask for things to change, but I’d like some things to stay the same for a while.
I sing a song for September. Even summer has to end, but the autumn brings me home again.
I expect the leaves to change, but I hope that you will be the same for a while.
I sing a song for my brother as he waits to cross the wide, wondering what will be on the golden side.
I’m sure that much will change, but what matters now will stay the same for a while.


The Breeze
Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2002

I want to take you to the stream and go where it wanders. Waters whisper out my name. Skip your sorrows like a stone over my shoulder. Lay your head upon my side.
But you claim the breeze. You sweep along my side, lift my water high and wide. Yeah, you claim the breeze. You move faster than I flow, where you’re heading, I don’t know.
So I switch and claim the flower, wherever it grows. I give you daisies every day. I want those flowers to bear my name whenever they’re given, peek through petals in the rain.
But you claim the breeze, scatter petals all around, lift my roots up from the ground. Yeah, you claim the breeze. As you go blowing by, daisies fill the sky.
Now the breeze is blowing backwards, and I don’t know why.
The melody I claim as well, whenever it’s playing. I play you every line I love. I sing the songs I write for you, whenever I write them, so they will echo through and through.
But you claim the breeze. Throw my song through the sky and whistle passing by. Yeah, you claim the breeze. And a windblown melody is all that’s left of me.

Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2012

Now the water’s rising up. City’s in the sea. Now the water’s rising up.
Tide’s over ten floors high. Windows crack and burst. Tide’s over ten floors high.

From Brooklyn, I can’t see Broadway. And the ocean comes. “It’s coming,” some say.
And the taxi horns, they sound like whale cries. And I sing to you though the waters rise.
New York is drowning now. Bubble as it falls. New York is drowning now. Can you see the ocean curve—wider than your dreams? Can you see the ocean curve? See the horizon smooth? Sun settles down.

Trouble for a Fool
Words and music by Tyler Gibbons and The Humming
Poorly Bird Music ASCAP 1998

It’s a windy night. There’s nothing nice about it, nothing nice about the blowing wind.
Someone must have blown the constellations apart—our conversations blowing backward from the start.
It’s a hard night. There’s nothing nice about it, nothing warm about the blowing wind.
Someone must have worn all of our patience away. I need a parachute to pull. I need to pray.

And I say, “Hey, the trouble down in me, the trouble down in you.”
I say, “Oh, the trouble that we feel, it’s trouble for a fool.”

It’s a strange night. Ghosts down on the gravel, ghosts come to bemoan the blowing wind. Anyone can say what they’ve been hoping to say, that holding you is blowing everything away. Well, I know something about this, when she fall into sleep, she’s got this belly ring that bounces when she breathes. Maybe I should know when it’s best to leave. Or maybe it’s all I need now—to be here and believe.

It’s a heart pour. It’s where is our perspective? What happens in the moment we’re waiting for? You know in the end we weigh every card that we hold, and some are butterflies and some are rock n’ roll.

Miss Maybe
Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2002

say but hardly say. Why don’t I say them? I’m broken down, and oh they spin around me till it’s morning.
I am not a beggar, but I ask forgiveness and for solace as I fade away. If I fade away, please look away.
Miss Maybe, half measures don’t fulfill me. I’m a captive. Yeah, I’m captured far away from your sea. Your silver song imprisons me. I can’t hear it. So I sing alone, but still I listen.
Miss Maybe, I’m tired of all this compromise, and I realize the tears behind my eyes they fall for endings. How long and hard I try and still there’s endings. Ties they come undone, they slip away.

Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2002

I’m thinking back on Thursday, What I learned about your brain: Stand still so you won’t have to get splashed by all the rain.
I’m thinking back on Saturday, What I learned about your fear: Stand still so you won’t have to always brush away the tear.

Stand still, and you will not have to feel so fragile. Stand still, you won’t have to be afraid of all the time slipping behind.

I’m thinking back on Monday, You were thinking ‘bout last June: Stand still so you won’t have to make your mind up so soon.
I’m thinking back on Wednesday, What you didn’t call to say:

Stand still so maybe all these thoughts will somehow drift away.

I’m thinking back on Friday, What I think you tried to say: Stand still so they will never know that you have gone astray.
I’m thinking back on Sunday, What I hope you understand: It’s okay for you to just stand still and hold on to my hand.

The Confluence
Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2002

You see she could make me love her with a single breath.
I would fall a thousand times to watch you rise.