Singer/songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to fund an upcoming album, but now wonders if December was the best time. “The timing is challenging, but I’m at the mercy of timing,” she tells the Reader. “The video and audio people for the Kickstarter campaign were available in September and October, and if I waited longer, the project would have been pushed back into 2015, and I don’t want to wait that long.”
The timing might seem bad at first, but Berryhill is following some advice given to her by Brian Wilson collaborator, lyricist Van Dyke Parks.
“He told me, ‘If you’re going to do a fundraiser, do it near Christmas, when people have goodwill,” she says.
It’s been seven years since Berryhill’s last album, Beloved Stranger, and some of the songs that will be on the new record have been around for four years, near the time her husband, rock critic Paul Williams, went into a nursing home because of dementia brought on by a 1995 bike accident.
He died in 2013 at the home he shared with Berryhill and their 13-year-old son, Alexander.
Those years with Williams, while precious, were difficult for Berryhill.
“It was hard because he couldn’t be left alone. He was starting oven fires,” she says. “During that time, I wrote a lot of songs, and I want to record them while they’re still fresh.”
Berryhill hopes to raise $16,000 by December 15. As of December 1, she had raised $4158.
Four of the songs have already been recorded from a smaller funding campaign, and she admits that the real-life struggle of dealing with a spouse with dementia was an influence on the compositions — to a point.
“I didn’t want to write sad songs,” Berryhill says. “I wanted to honor Paul by honoring the place where we came together, the joy of music.”
In the late 1960s, Williams created Crawdaddy!, the first publication to take rock seriously. Over the years, he amassed a collection of tapes, manuscripts, and correspondence that provide a unique window to late-20th-century music and science fiction.
“He once wanted to write a book about love and desire,” Berryhill says. “I decided to do an album on those topics.”
The Kickstarter campaign is just one of Berryhill’s projects. During Thanksgiving week, she spent many hours with an antiquarian bookseller from the East Coast boxing and categorizing Williams’s archive. They are now looking for a buyer.
“It would be a great archive for a university or a museum,” Berryhill says. “It’s important to have the collection be accessible to the public. Paul’s [Bob] Dylan collection alone could be as important as anything in the collection.”