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Berg bears fruits of writing

By Jeffrey B. Remz, November 1997

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Berg penned "The Resurrection" with Alice Randall almost three years ago. The song details the change of familiar surroundings and a longing for the good old days.

"We were writing it about Nashville and about the changing of the guard and how sad it was Johnny Cash had to go get a pop deal to make a record. It just kind of evolved from there to something a lot broader...It just happens that sometimes people get put out to pasture who don't belong there."

"I saw it first hand," Berg says. "My experience of making the pop record is definitely on that song."

Berg has seen a lot especially given her country pedigree. Her mother, Icee, and Aunt Sudie were back-up singers on a host of recordings.

"I always knew I'd do this," Berg says."There was no question in my mind. I'm sure that influenced me a great deal. They took me to recording sessions when they couldn't find babysitters. I was enthralled as a toddler from day one. It just came very naturally. It never occurred to me to do anything else."

At the age of 15, Berg and Icee banged on the doors of music publishers.

Three years later, Berg penned her first number one hit, "Faking Love," with Braddock, performed by T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks.

She retreated from country, moved to Louisiana following her boyfriend, who was in a band. "I wasn't expecting that kind of success that early. I just felt like getting the hell out of Dodge for awhile."

Berg moved back to Nashville in 1985 where she plied her songwriting skills.

It paid off as well. Berg later wrote "The Last One to Know," a hit for Reba in 1987. "After that it got a little easier and a little easier every year," Berg says. "It was a 10-year overnight success."

She also penned "Hey Cinderella" for Suzy Bogguss and "Wrong Side of Memphis" for Yearwood.

While not contemplating a recording career for herself, Berg eventually released "Lying to Moon" in 1990. The disc spawned a few minor hits, "Baby, Walk On" and "The Things You Left Undone." The title track later was covered by Yearwood.

"It crossed my mind, but to be honest with you, I didn't think I was a very good singer," Berg says of her own recording career.

"I started at the top and worked my way backwards," Berg jokes. "Before I knew it, I got a record deal without doing any preparation for it. It definitely raised my (profile) as a songwriter in Nashville. Trisha Yearwood knew about me because she had my record."

Now, Berg tries balancing writing and her own recording career, almost always writing with others. She has particularly clicked with Gary Harrison, a writer at the same publisher.

"I have no methodology," Berg says. "I'm pretty scattered. My methodology is no method. Just by the seat of my seats. Somebody asked Gary Harrison about (writing together and he said,) 'You just find a place to latch onto, and hang on.' It's natural. That just came about. We can write a song so fast and so easily. It's scary."

"It took us awhile to get (going) because we're such different personalities. You'd almost think he's very Republican, but he's not as much as he seems. He'd be on the phone his stockbroker. He'd go out and play golf in the afternoon. He's just a very stoic man's man kind of guy on the outside."

She also has written with her husband. "It's hard because we're married. We have learned now to bring a third party in because it's too hard to leave your life in the other room. You'll be working on a verse and you'll say, 'by the way, did you take out the garbage today?'"

"Plus we see each other so little that the last thing we want to do is write a song," she says.

Berg doesn't appear overconfident her singing career will take off despite her spate of hits. "I don't think those things are going to make a big difference. It's whether you're going to get a hit single or not."

"The doors are more open at radio stations because they're more curious," she says.

"It's not high right now, but that could change," Berg says of her optimism level. "I've run into brick walls over seven years. I'm a little jaded. Hopefully, that will change."

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