I started working on the songs for this album after Trump’s election and released it just after the midterms in 2018.. It was a particularly dark period for me. As a father, Trump represented everything I don’t want my children to be or become. You want to be able to assure your kids that things will work out, that the good side wins eventually, that history arcs toward justice. But I needed a broader view to hold onto those beliefs. I remember when the Supreme Court ruled that there wouldn’t be a recount in Florida and Bush was declared the victor over Gore in 2000. I wrote some political songs then. But this felt different. Bigger. Scarier.

Each song on this album takes on a different issue of the day. The Faded Red and Blue is about immigration. Throw Down a Line is about gun control (written after the Parkland and Vegas shootings). Ash to Ash tries to understand the fear behind supporting someone like Trump.

Eventually, I wanted my songwriting to move beyond the muck, and so I tried to write a political love song, a song that might unite rather than divide. So I started writing a list of what I loved rather than what I was angry about. I wrote verse after verse. Slowly I edited it down into This Be Dear to Me. The song is a prayer. It’s a plea to be able to see what is worth fighting for and to ignore all that separates us. I think this is the best song I’ve ever written. It goes through several key changes and returns to where we began.

We made a beautiful video for the song, featuring artwork by Stan Berning and handwriting by my son Noah.

LYRICS
Ash to Ash

Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2018

A child king sits on his throne,
In his tower casting stones,
Counting everything he owns,
But late at night he cries alone.

There’s a village down the hill
With fields to plow and mouths to fill.
Children grow up as they will,
But fuel the fire and blood will spill.

Ash to ash,
Bend the bough,
Run old Rosie around,
Till first is last and lost is found, oh we’ll all fall down.

Some say fear is like the wind,
Hard to say how it begins,
Hard to stop it strengthening,
Hard to blow it back again.

Ash to ash,
Bend the bough,
Run old Rosie around,
Till first is last and lost is found, oh we’ll all fall down.

Come back daughters come back sons.
Don’t believe that this is done,
Even though their rage has run
From shining sea to Washington.

Ash to ash,
Bend the bough,
Run old Rosie around,
Till first is last and lost is found, oh we’ll all fall down

Wolves in the Wings

Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2018

There’s a house that stood against the wind
Till the roof gave in, the roof gave
In the door post there
We carved our names
But all that’s changed, all that changed
You left that day, and crossed on through.
I didn’t know. I wish I knew.

How you heard them howl,
Their circling.
There were wolves.
Long before the fall
Of everything,
There are wolves in the wings.

When you sang to me, you changed the words
So I learned, so I learned
The good ones win, they always do
I didn’t know, I wish I knew

How you heard them howl,
Their circling.
There were wolves.
Long before the fall
Of everything,
There are wolves in the wings.

Lay with me in the meadows of my mind
Just one more time, one more time
Could stop a while, and I could say to you
I heard them, too. I hear them, too.

How I hear them howl,
They’re circling.
There are wolves.
Long before the fall
Of everything,
There are wolves in the wings.

The Faded Red and Blue

Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2018

Have you seen the flag laid out,
The faded red and blue?
One star missing edges torn
It barely made it through.
If we believe the promise
In the fabric still holds true,
Then we must be a harbor
For the weak and weary, too.

I know your heart beats, I do.
My heart beats just like you.

Once I saw the Grand Canyon
It snowed upon the edge.
You were there beside me
You cried and then you said,

“Deep inside this great divide
I know god isn’t dead.
Call it what you will,
Spirit or soul or love instead.”

I know broken hearts can mend,
and hardened hearts can bend.

See, I’m now a father of two boys
I love them so.
With open eyes and open hearts
And minds I hope they grow.
And may we leave a world to them
That’s sacred not all sold,
Remembering where they came from
and where we’re all bound to go.

Oh my heart overflows,
Fear will fade I know.

Cause I have seen the flag laid out, Old Glory red and blue.

This Be Dear To Me

Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2018

Oh the water in the stream
Flowing through the centuries
Through the canyons, through the trees.
This be dear to me

And the breezes as they blow
From cross the seas through your window,
Where they come from where they go.
This be dear to me
Oh this be dear to me.
Oh I believe this is what’s worth fighting for.
Oh help us see that there is so much more, Adonai.

Oh the desert vast and wide,
Silent under endless skies,
And then you put your hand in mine,
This be dear to me.

Or when you wake still warm from sleep,
Half a dream your soft lips speak,
Safe and near me you I’ll keep.
This be dear to me.
Oh this be dear to me.

Oh I believe this is what’s worth fighting for.
Oh help us see that there is so much more, Adonai.
Adonai.

Oh the autumn rust and gold,
Winter mornings crisp and cold,
Then in spring the world unfolds.
This be dear to me.
Oh this be dear to me.

Oh the whole world’s whispering.
The morning rains, the prayer bells ring.
The eagles cry, the great whales sing.
This be dear to me.
Oh this be dear to me.

Oh I believe this is what’s worth fighting for.
Oh help us see that there is so much more, Adonai.
Adonai.

If I leave this world too soon,
Far beyond the silver moon,
Live your life with love and truth.
This be dear to me.
Look there’s love in all that’s true.
This be dear to me.
Feel the love surrounding you.
This be dear to me.
Oh this be dear to me.
Yes, you are dear to me.

Throw Down a Line

Words and music by David Berkeley
Straw Man Publishing ASCAP 2018

Just before the dawn,
Half a world asleep,
I heard the news,
Heard the newsman weep.

When the earth is quiet,
And autumn’s just begun,
It’s hard to find a fault in anyone.

But now it’s come to this.
You got to wonder why,
From a hotel room
Beneath the desert sky.

Throw down a line, but hold on to the end.

And so the days go by,
Nothing seems to change.
Like nothing can be done
When nothing is to blame.

Then on the lover’s day
While the palm trees bend,
Put your books away
Cause here it comes again.
Throw down a line, but hold on to the end.
Turn back the time, let us start again.

How have we managed to fall so far?
Don’t try to tell me it’s who we are.
What kind of freedom would leave such scars?
Oh, lay down your arms.

Heaven help the child
Who in her darkest hour
She don’t back down
From the fools in power.

And you’re waking now.
And the sky begins to light.
We got another try.
We got to make it right.

Let’s throw down a line and hold on to the end.
I know it’s time, time to start again
Throw down a line, but hold on to the end.