In Good Company

See my Spotify playlist to listen to more of the artists and songs discussed in this post.

Rick Berlin has repeatedly told me that he is “influenced more by what’s around him,” rather than any particular artist. However, he does have a few favorites and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Berlin seems drawn to musicians who have made careers without comprising the integrity of their craft.

Leonard Cohen may be 10 years older than Rick, but they share both the stamp of a unique voice and a style of storytelling through their music. Cohen, who is 77 years old, just released a new album called “Old Ideas,” which is reviewed here on NPR, along with an illuminating interview with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air.”

Here is Cohen circa 1967, singing “The Stranger Song.”  An aside – is it just me, or does he look like a younger Dustin Hoffman?

Tom Waits floats between genres of rock, experimental, jazz, and blues. The 62-year old has released an album relatively recently — his first in seven years — in October 2011 called Bad As Me.  Waits has arguably one of the most distinctive voices in the industry, and I can’t help but think of him when I hear Rick’s voice slide down his wide range from falsetto to raw and gravelly notes. For a taste of Waits quirky personality, check out this “Private Listening Party” for Bad As Me.

See Tom Waits’ Waltzing Matilda for a great performance. Follow the video with a read of the divisive comments below the video for a laugh. Listen to Berlin’s “PBR” for comparison.

A final favorite singer/songwriter of Rick’s, and representing the ladies, is Joni Mitchell. Here she sings “A Case of You.”  Berlin’s solo album “Me and Van Gogh” comparatively has much of Mitchell’s characteristically sparse style throughout his songs.


About Melissa Tabeek

Melissa Tabeek is a freelance journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon. She reports on politics, culture and social issues in the Middle East. On her website, you can also find her blog, where she writes about her work and daily life in Lebanon. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from Northeastern University.
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