Album: Strange Light
For Fans Of: David Gray, Damien Rice, Josh Ritter
Tucked between a cellist and a trumpeter on stage at Decatur, Ga., acoustic hotspot Eddie’s Attic, singer/songwriter David Berkeley is singing like he means it. “Homesick is hard when you don’t know just where it is where you call home.” It’s an appropriate sentiment for a guy who’s lived in every corner of the country; who’s spent the last 15 months in Tralonca, a tiny village just outside of Corsica, France; and who’s back in the States playing 22 shows in 20 days.
“There are 35 people who live there and basically nothing else,” he says of his adopted
village, sitting in a coffee shop down the street from Eddie’s.
“There’s a bread truck that comes every morning and a meat truck that
comes once a week and a fish truck that comes once a week. We can go
into the city, but it’s like living in a different era—goats and sheep
His sojourn was oddly timed, as his career was just
beginning to pick up steam. He’d appeared on radio programs like World
Cafe and Mountain Stage, and songs from his 2004 album After the
Wrecking Ships were getting played on radio and TV shows. His
follow-up, Strange Light, was already recorded with Brian Deck (Modest
Mouse, Iron & Wine, Josh Ritter) in Chicago and ready for release.
But in some ways, it made perfect sense. Berkeley’s wife was studying
village traditions for her PhD in anthropology, and he was able to
spend his time off the road with his son, who’d just turned one. It
also suited the same wanderlust that made him think he’d be a travel
writer before he ever started writing songs. After a stint as a
river-rafting guide in Idaho, he moved to New Mexico to work for
Outside magazine, hiking in various locales and writing about his
adventures. He then moved to Brooklyn and started teaching creative
writing at an impoverished public school, while writing travel pieces
on the side and playing his songs in local clubs.
started to pick up, I had less and less time to pitch stories,” he
says. “I was doing three things and ended up having to make a choice.
Ultimately, it became a choice between music and teaching. I chose
music, but maybe I’ll return to teach at some point in my life. I hope
I will. Sometimes I feel selfish about being a musician, and other
times I feel like music is the highest calling.”
releasing Strange Light, Berkeley will move back to Atlanta in early
2009 for his wife to finish school. After that, he says, who knows
where he’ll go?
Listen to David Berkeley on DavidBerkeley.com.