Daily Discovery: Eddie Berman, “Pascal’s Triangle”

Photo by Catie Laffoon

ARTIST: Eddie Berman

SONG: “Pascal’s Triangle”

HOMETOWN Los Angeles, CA

CURRENT LOCATION:  Portland, OR 

FAVORITE COLOR: Dodger Blue; and the different shades of green you see walking through the woods of the Pacific Northwest in the fall. 

AMBITIONS To raise my kids to be curious, confident, decent adults. And to continue evolving as a songwriter and as a person (which, to me, are kind of the same thing).

I WROTE THIS SONG ON A [INSTRUMENT]: My O-18 Martin acoustic guitar

I RECORDED THIS SONG [WHERE/HOW]: “Pascal’s Triangle” is off my new album Frontiers. All of Frontiers was recorded over three days with my band at 64 Sound Studio in Highland Park, CA by our longtime collaborator Pierre De Reeder. Like all of our albums, we recorded it live. 

DREAM GIG: Whether it’s been for tens or for thousands of people, every gig I play with an attentive, generous audience is a dream.

FAVORITE LYRIC: 

Well, I spied a girl and before she could leave

I said “Let’s go and play Adam and Eve”

I took her by the hand and my heart it was thumpin’

When she said, “Hey man, you crazy or sumpin’

You see what happened last time they started?”

Bob Dylan (“Talkin’ World War III Blues”)

I never really had any interest in playing music, but then, when I was 15, I heard the 1962 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, and it unlocked some door in my brain. I immediately started to learn how to fingerpick and write songs. This is one of my favorite verses from that album.

SONG I WISH I WROTE:

Maybe “Happy Birthday” for obvious financial reasons. Although I think it may be public domain now…  But, in all seriousness, to me songs seem like such personal expressions that it’d be like wondering “whose dreams do I wish I had at night?” I think I just want my own. 

Except when I get writer’s block, in which case I’d happily take anybody’s songs.

5 PEOPLE I’D MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: 

I’d pick some family members who died before I was born: my Uncle Tom Berman, and my grandfathers Dan Lynch and Eddie Berman (my namesake). John O’ Donohue, the brilliant Irish writer and poet. And my wife, Jo, because I’ll need some emotional support while dining with four ghosts.

MY FAVORITE CONCERT EXPERIENCE:  Leonard Cohen in Los Angeles, at the Nokia Theater in 2009.

 I WROTE THIS SONG BECAUSE: 

In John O’ Donohue’s book Beauty he talks about the strength and resiliency that genuine beauty can give you. He paraphrases a quote from Blaise Pascal, saying: in times of hardship keep an image of beauty in your mind. It’s the idea that holding on to one irreducible, beautiful thing can see you through anything. 

When I first read that, I immediately thought of the birth of my daughter Bridget, and becoming a father.

My wife had a scary end of her pregnancy and labor, and there were some close calls at the end.  Ultimately it all went well – and seeing my kid’s little face and holding her brand-new, little body against my chest felt like stepping into a new frontier. Parenthood is obviously a long, daunting road, but that first moment, seeing her and holding her, seems like it will sustain me through all of it.

INSTRUMENT/GEAR I’D MOST LIKE TO OWN: I’m working on turning my basement into a studio – when it’s done I’m most excited about getting an old upright piano.

 SONGWRITER I MOST ADMIRE & WHY: I admire inimitable, singular songwriters like Randy Newman, Nina Simone, and my friend Laura Marling.

American Songwriter says: Beautiful, stark, haunting vocals, compelling melodies and tight lyrics. Berman truly is a singer/songwriter to be reckoned with.