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about

“For the uninitiated, be prepared; the songs are startlingly confessional,
filled with the kind of soul-bearing + rapid-fire beauty that has always
been Berlin’s trademark.” (Kevin O’Hare/Newhouse News)

Hi-N-Dry Records is proud to announce the release of Boston-based
songwriter/singer/piano player RICK BERLIN's “ME & VAN GOGH”. Berlin’s first release on the label, "ME & VAN GOGH" was recorded at
the Hi-N-Dry loft in Cambridge, MA, on the late Mark Sandman’s (phat,
low-end) acoustic piano. Billy Conway (Morphine, Twinemen) produced. Tom
Dube (Richard Thompson) engineered. Featuring 12 original tunes, “ME & VAN
GOGH” is a return to an earlier, more innocent format (Rick Berlin -
piano/voice). Simple, skeletal portraiture. The Song Itself - unadorned.

As true as a torn pocket (“Buddha”). As confused as a kid stuck in jail (“A
Letter”). As sad as a beautiful girl alone on a street corner, her heart +
loss a thousand miles away (“Don’t Talk About Joan”). Absurd as a leering
drunk with a beer gut (“Beer Belly”), or a drive past midnight to nowhere
(“The Ride”), Berlin creates a world, a town, a topography that seems as
familiar as it is unusual. If Van Gogh was alive + wrote songs, they might
sound like this album (the title track: “Me & Van Gogh”). “Berlin’s songs
evoke characters as colorful as the crowds that gather to hear them, and he
willingly shares the highs and lows of his life with a level of depth rarely
captured through song.” (Christopher Muther/Bay Windows)

Rick Berlin is a giant on the Boston music scene. His colorful songwriting
and strong stage presence have influenced countless other artists since the
early 1970s, when his innovative band Orchestra Luna was on Epic Records and
harnessed a potent blend of theater and music years before the Tubes.
“Berlin is a throwback - to the androgynous glam of Bowie and the New York
Dolls, the glammy punk of Talking Heads and Blondie, and the proto-new wave
of Roxy Music. Berlin is the traveling troubadour of the Boston scene,
bringing the stories of one neighborhood to another in his songs. Berlin is
Boston.” (Jon Garelick/The Boston Phoenix)

Throughout the decades and the shifting fortunes of the business, Rick has
continued to make music with intelligence and integrity, building an
international reputation around his knotty, singular piano playing,
straight-from-the-heart singing and a style of character-based songwriting
that's drawn favorable comparisons to the likes of Tom Waits and Leonard
Cohen - although Rick rocks more than both. “Er heißt nicht nur Berlin, er
ist wie Berlin: Wild, ungezügelt, hart, ein Chansonnier, der rauhe Wärme
ausstrahlt, immer unfertig, immer auf der Suche, voller Gegensätze. Es ist
unmöglich, ihn zu hören, ohne wirklich zuzuhören.” “His name is not only
Berlin, he is like Berlin: Wild, harsh, unleashed, a singer-songwriter of
raw energy, always searching, never finished, full of contradictions. It is
impossible to hear him without truly listening.” (Robert von Rimscha -
Washington Bureau Chief “DER TAGESSPIEGEL” - Berlin/Germany).

“...plucked-from-life stories, tough piano playing. Berlin approaches the
piano like a good punk-rock guitarist, driving the grooves in a spare
forceful way, yet darting into angular blocks of sound and laying snatches
of melody over his rhythm lines. Next to his voice — which rises and sinks
like an emotional barometer of his lyrics, his homespun piano style is a
most distinctive instrument. He holds nothing back. There’s something
genuine and special in the chemistry of his voice, playing, and songs.”
(Ted Drozdowski Cellars By Starlight/The Boston Phoenix)

You can learn more about Rick, read his short fiction, the script for his
musical "The Kingdom", view clips of interviews for his documentary-in-
progress (Jamaica Plain-Spoken – Small Town America In The 21st Century?) at
www.rickberlin.com

credits

released April 19, 2004

Produced by Rick Berlin, Billy Conway + Tom Dube
Engineered + mixed by Tom Dube
Recorded at HI-N-Dry

Mastered at JPMasters by Dave Locke
Photos: Rick
Design: Shaun Wolf Wortis

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about

Rick Berlin (now playing w/ THE NICKEL & DIME BAND) Jamaica Plain

A giant on the Boston music scene. His colorful songwriting + strong stage presence have influenced countless other artists since the early 1970s. He continues to make music w/ intelligence + integrity, building an international reputation around his knotty, singular piano playing, straight-from-the-heart singing and a style of character-based songwriting that's drawn comparisons to Waits + Cohen ... more

contact / help

Contact Rick Berlin (now playing w/ THE NICKEL & DIME BAND)

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Track Name: Me & Van Gogh
Me n Van Gogh

Me n Van Gogh
we cover the terrain
the colors r insane
acid on my brain
I say hey vince
don't cut off yr ear
he says it's for a portrait
I think it's kinda queer

Wild eyes
spin like ferris wheels
I stay humble
in his shaky arms
Orange sun, boats of blue, fields of yellow

I ask him about
that failure thing
His face don't tell me nuthin'
His brother is an angel
He creeps me out
Sees right thru me
I love him like a wife
Smile change my life

Wild eyes
spin like rooster tails
I stay humble
in his shaky arms
Orange sun, boats of blue, fields of yellow

Rings of saturn
round his head
murderer scary
in someone's bed
Ya gotta like
a face like his
drive-by kisses,
whiskey lips

Orange sun, boats of blue, fields of yellow...
Track Name: Criminal
CRIMINAL

I don't know how
ya get to be so beautiful
When ya look like that
I gotta say it's criminal

Are you an angel?
Are you sad?
When th door flies open
's that good thing or bad?

I'm talking to an idiot
just so I
Can look at you & not give away
anything

If we hang out
I'd get so lost
Yr laugh yr voice yr face yr hands
Im shakin with it

I don't know how
ya get to be so beautiful
I'm too scared t talk t you
ain't got a strategy

Take you home in my mind
Make up yr story write every line
We'd get along great
Nobody hurt
You never get ugly
I'm never a jerk

Oh baby
Im shakin with it
Track Name: I'm A Slut
SLUT

I'm a slut
I'm a ho
I’ll be anyone
you lookin for

I'm a slut
I'm a ho
& all ya gotta
is want me

I'm a slut
I'm a ho
I’ll do anything
you lookin for

& I’ll listen
& I’ll laugh
I am yr pornographic
piece of ass

I'm a priest
I'm a politician
I'm a rock star
& I'm a fag
I'm a CEO
& I'm a newsman
I'm yr Mommy/Daddy
& I'm a bear

I'm a slut
I'm a ho
I am woman
& so much more

& I’ll listen
& I’ll laugh
I am yr pornographic
piece of ass

I am a slut
I'm a ho
& all ya gotta do is want me
Track Name: Buddha
(I Am) The Buddha

It’s a sad sad world
& I am just pretendin
to be good
Inscrutable Mona Lisa in the hood

It’s a blue blue sky
Faces as transparent
as rain on a pane of glass
it’s a blue blue sky

I am the Buddah

It’s a cold cold night
Outa work and outa love
Standing single file
It’s a cold cold night

I am the Buddah
Track Name: Don't Talk About Joan
Don't Talk About Joan

Don't talk about Joan
Don't talk
Don't talk about her
I'm in love with her

She walks
into a room
She doesn't know me
but I don't care
& love is not always easy
Love is not always kind
If I get away with this
it'll be a perfect crime

She drives
this old convertible
the sun is warm
in her hair
I look outside my window
& she is at a stoplight
drinking a beer
she doesn't know I'm here

I saw her
yesterday
she was standing alone
in a crowd
Her sunglasses on
her hair pulled back
& she was crying
I was no help at all
Track Name: The Ride
The Ride

forty beers at the peoples republic + nobody in there's Chinese
guys r so ripped they piss from a distance on yellow blistering knees
a phoney soprano a bearded buffoon orders another cheap round
harvard queens r arguing cross-eyed intellectual cocks on the prowl

i don't know if this
is where i ought to laugh
i don't like the reflection
an oncoming car up my ass

skywalker car a ashtray of butt wheels like a velveteen surf
radio's off yr cel phone is on Virginia Woolfe on yr face like a smirk
leave the city behind a discarded can on the slope of a tinfoil sky
ahead on the road is a rich people's park - Nahant with a Mafia vibe

oh i don't know if this
is where i ought to stop
i don't like yr reaction
hey is that a cop?

every few minutes the beer takes over + we pull off t spit
atlantic ocean a breakwater jam with waves like a communist fist
it's dark out here on a finger of land with a house like a chapter + verse
crown on the grass like the buzz of a punk dazed + beautifully hurt

suns on the rise tomorrow is work for the sad takin' showers on speed
hope against hope for a cry or a twist or a skirt or a spray or a scream
we've run outa words + wr peacefully sexy in the stench of this long ride
whaddya call it? a Kerouac night on a quest like a headbanger's high

i don't know if this
is where i ought to say
goodnight my friend am i
or are you betrayed?
Track Name: Party Dress
Party Dress

Will I ever see you again?
Were we ever more than friends?

Southern California roof top kid
Change of color, change of skin
Ya read all them body shop hard ass red dogs
They like you a lot I bet they did
Bet they did

You chase yr brain all around the world
Heart of sand, hand of pearls
The mirror hurts but you laugh at the mess
Mascara meltin on yr party dress
Party dress

Lightning bottle smile, a boy on a bike
Nervous eye dancin', pokerface insight
They shut you down, mr shiny & new
The canary dies in the coal mine
singin the blues

Speed of sound
Speed of light
Speed aint nothin
face-to-face in the starless night
Track Name: A Letter
A Letter (for Mark Anthony Houseworth)

Dear Rick,
How's the civilized world out there? You know I'm writin' you this letter from prison...

Last night I dreamed that I was free
but when I woke up I’m still in prison you see
I am so ashamed of the last year of my life
the money, the drugs, & the sleeze
There is so much pain
I brought it all on myself
while others got hurt along the way

& so I cry in the shower
where no one can see
Sometimes it hurts so bad I get a headache
you would not believe

I told so many lies with my body before
my feelings, my voice - I used 'em
I'm just a love whore
The people who wanted to help me, I just push aside
I'm in prison now but I think that I spent
a good part of my life
imprisoned inside

I feel just like a caged animal
I'm losing my whole summer, you see
I want another chance so bad, my friend
It's hot in here & there's no breeze
I think I'd rather sleep in the Common
then be locked up in here
I don't mean to be such a baby boy
Track Name: Beerbelly
Beerbelly

I got a beer belly
Aint nuthin gonna do about it
Got a beer belly
Ain't gonna change

Get a 6 pack after work
I love my corner bar
Cold one in my hand
's Heaven

I don't trust anybody 'f he don't drink
I don't trust myself when I'm drinkin
South Beach diet dat f hairdressers
...not me.

Got a big t-shirt
n baggy pants
When I'm drunk
I got a dirty rant
Anything pretty after 18 beers...
C'mere baby

Got a beer belly
Wanna touch it?
Ain't gonna change
Don't want to
Track Name: Last Man Standing
Last Man Standing

Are you the last man standing?
Well I doubt it
if I can see you
you can’t be alone
Are you the last man standing?
Say somethin
I jus’ need directions home

I been workin the street too damn long
I been riding this train, it ain’t no sleeper
I been runnin’ outa drugs t get me high
Naked packs of wolves w/ switchblade eyes

I see starlight in your face
Bloodshot, baggy insolent
When you smile are you laughin’ at me?
I don’t think so…answer me

Does it take more guts t quit than to continue?
Is jealousy part of life or a life apart?
Is the war inside us something even winnable?
Do my questions hit yr heart? Are they off the mark?

I see honesty in your face
Lines all over, a mirror cracked
Are your silent or are you deep?
Am I the clown?
Are you the witness?

Rain + dust + diamonds + pain
Shattered glass, innocence + longing
Take me, break me, turn my life around
Tell me…tell me now
Before the sun goes down
Are you the last man standing?
Say something.
I just need directions…
Track Name: Rock n Roll Romance
Rock n Roll Romance

Kids are loud & laced with neon
Baby faces bounce & fall
Alcoholic mask of rubber
Hopelessly romantic doll
Singer got a pink stiletto
Stinkin up the microphone
Drummer look real psychedelic
Glasses of mercurochrome

It's just a rock n roll romance

Seems like you know everybody
All the kids around the scene
Stayin high & hug & kissin'
Dancin like a jungle Queen
Love is not exactly feeling
Just emotion on the make
What th' Hell doesn't matter
What is real & what is fake

It's just a rock n roll romance

Girl on piano
Gin on the drums
Drugs in the bathroom
& a boy on the run

It's just a rock n roll romance
Track Name: Do You Still Love Me?
Do You Still Love Me?

Do you
still love me?
I really need t know
Do you
still want me around?
or is it better
that I go?

Thought of writing you a letter
Thought of giving you a call

Do you
still like me?
Do you think I'm funny
or strangely slow
t pick up the pieces
of a broken heart
the way I used to
not so long ago

Maybe I've become a coward
cuz i don't want you to say no

Sitting in the kitchen with our lives inside my head
My heart is so damn full it's gonna break
I'll never understand how something beautiful as the sun
Get's stuck inside a cloud
+ leaves ya standin'
in the rain