As I prepare to leave for Jordan and bring all of my work from the past four months to close, I can’t help but dwell on this project. My time at the Dorchester Reporter, my assistantship, my investigative work – I have learned so much.
But the Rick Berlin project was different. Tweets, Tumblr and blog posts were part of an ongoing piece of work — at any time, Berlin could decide that he didn’t like what I was doing and tell me to get lost. But he didn’t.
Nearly six months after connecting with Rick at The Midway Cafe, I have 1,1110 tweets, 60 Tumblr posts, 24 blog posts, a radio piece and a mini-documentary (watch it, watch it!) – all Berlin-centric. I don’t know if a journalist is supposed to consider their subject their friend — irregardless, I would consider Berlin mine.
To all of you who spoke with me about Rick, thank you. To every member of The Nickel And Dime Band, thank you for allowing me to tag along on gigs and for candidly speaking with me. And to all of you who have followed this blog, thank you.
Finally, to Rick. Thank you for allowing me to rummage in your past and write about it. Thank you for your time, your patience, your frankness and your willingness to work with my deadlines. I wish you nothing but the very best.
“Unless it was the records of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong I heard as a kid, I don’t know of anybody who actually influenced my singing, then or now. I always wanted Bessie’s big sound and Pop’s feeling. Young kids always ask me what my style is derived from and how it evolved and all that. What can I tell them? If you find a tune and it’s got something to do with you, you don’t have to evolve anything. You just feel it, and when you sing it other people can feel something too. With me, it’s got nothing to do with working or arranging or rehearsing. Give me a song I can feel, and it’s never work. There are a few songs I feel so much I can’t stand to sing them, but that’s something else again.
If I had to sing ‘Doggie in the Window,’ that would actually be work. But singing songs like ‘The Man I Love’ or ‘Porgy’ is no more work than sitting down and eating Chinese roast duck, and I love roast duck. I’ve lived songs like that. When I sing them I live them again and I love them.” –Billie Holiday