After coming up through acts like Neophytes with David Ruderman, Cindy Lee Berryhill began earning notice in 1987 with her acclaimed first album, and her airplay/word-of-mouth hit song "Damn, I Wish I Was a Man" ("I'd be sexy with a belly like Jack Nicholson"), both of which established her as the first of a series of Girls With Attitude (So much so that the next to come along, Ani DiFranci, Alanis Morisettte, and Liz Phair, were surprised to find themselves being compared to this woman they'd never heard of!)
After an album, some singles, a few U.S. and Europe TV appearances and a several tours (with Peter Buck, Christy Moore, and the Smithreens), Berryhill won some dedicated fans, including Beck, Freedy Johnston, Jim Carroll, Steve Poltz of San Diego's Rugburns, and many others.
Berryhill's song "When Did Jesus Become a Republican?" spent most of 2006 and 2007 as a featured track on Neil Young's "Living with War Today" website, where songwriters are encouraged to submit political music. "They actually have a kind of ranking system there for the protest songs," she says, "and I [went] from 'newly added songs' to number 13. I didn't even know it had been added until L.A. Air America radio called and said they found my song on Neil's site and would I do an interview."
Berryhill says she went through the regular submission process and the song's embrace on Young's webpage is unrelated to the fact that, a few years ago, she worked for Young's manager Elliot Roberts and Lookout Management. Sample lyric:
"When did Jesus turn the tables on tender and join the money lenders?
'Stead of sharing with lepers, he's sellin' shares of Halliburton?"
She underwent appendicitis surgery on June 21, 2013. Her husband, rock critic Paul Williams, died in 2013, having suffered declining health ever since a 1995 North County bicycle accident. Songs written during that period appeared on her 2016 album The Adventurist, which she dedicated to Williams' memory.
The Adventurist was co-produced by Berryhill with David Schwartz, Sheldon Gomberg, Ben Moore, and Lee Ray. Contributing musicians include singer-songwriter Syd Straw, Probyn Gregory and Nelson Bragg of Brian Wilson’s band, DJ Bonebrake of X, and David J. Carpenter of Dead Rock West.
Berryhill says, “I vowed to write Paul a song cycle. Not songs of sadness or the despair I’d felt, but songs that reflected the love I had for him, and a remembering back to the enormous flood of feelings we’d had on meeting and courting. I wanted to write songs that felt like they’d come from that muse-driven place we feel when we fall in love.”
Her early albums were reissued beginning in August 2019 by Omnivore Records, including new liner notes and bonus tracks, beginning with her Garage Orchestra LP.
A digital single with two new CLB songs, ""Woke Up From A Dream" b/w "Emperor: Little Boots" was released with an accompanying booklet on Omnivore Recordings in early September 2020. The songs feature Berryhill on guitar and uke, with Renata Bratt on cello, violin, mandolin; David Schwartz on upright bass; Danny Frankel on drums and percussion; and Deane Cote on pedal steel and mandolin.
In early 2022, Berryhill reported "Paul Williams' papers, original manuscripts, books, Crawdaddy magazines, and overarching archive, including T-shirts, now has a home in the special collections at University of Massachusetts Amherst. This was in the works for the past six years, finding a home. It took a lot of time and sorting and wooing by the great rare bookman Henry Wessells of James Cummin's Books in New York. You can see quite a lot of Henry in the recent The Booksellers documentary. There were some almosts and some near misses, but at last PSW fans and family and friends can be gratified to know it will be cared for and loved under the helm of Aaron Rubinstein of special collections. As soon as Covid has subsided and the world is full of butterflies and sunshine again, Alexander and I will go visit Paul's papers. This is such an important moment for Paul's work. One of the great last things I needed to do for Paul was to find a place where his papers can be seen and referenced by anyone in the public. And cared for."