Bernie's Song


Dear friends. I want to tell you about a person close to my heart. His name is Bernie and he is my voice student. My name is Essence Goldman and I am a singer-songwriter and voice teacher from San Francisco. About 19 months ago I started giving Bernie voice lessons. Bernie is a talented singer, guitarist and songwriter. After about 3 months of lessons Bernie's voice mysteriously disappeared. At first I asked him about his diet and whether or not he smoked, drank, got enough sleep, and if he drank enough water. He assured me he was sleeping and eating well and not smoking or drinking.  Bernie cleaned swimming pools for a living and after some trouble shooting we came to suspect he had chemical poisoning from working with chlorine chemicals for a living. After several months of intensive detox treatment under the guidance of a Naturopath doctor, Bernie saw no improvement. In fact, his symptoms worsened. He began having trouble swallowing and controlling his tongue and jaw. He also had upper body weakness. Bernie saw a neurologist. The neurologist ruled out chemical poisoning and wanted to test him for ALS. Bernie delayed getting tested for a couple months, but with some encouragement, finally did. The worst diagnosis possible was confirmed. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Bernie is 47. He is a devoted single father to a wonderful 15 year old daughter named Nicole. (I also teach voice lessons to Nicole.) Bernie is one of the most down to earth and generous and kind hearted people I have had the pleasure to know in my lifetime. Originally from Danville, Pennsylvania, Bernie was an athlete for his whole life. He played soccer from the 5th grade through freshman year of college. He was a surfer and a high school and Collegiate wrestler.  Bernie can't surf anymore. He also can't play guitar. In fact, he had to stop working for health reasons and sell his guitar to pay his rent.


Some people with ALS have been known to beat the odds and live for decades. Unfortunately, the type of ALS Bernie has been diagnosed with is the most aggressive form. It is called Bulbar onset. It is characterized by the symptoms originating in his upper body and working their way down to his lower limbs. Bulbar onset ALS has a prognosis of 3 years from when symptoms present. Bernie symptoms presented over 18 months ago. He can't swallow. He can't control his jaw or tongue. He drools uncontrollably. He is growing weaker everyday. He walks very slowly now and has lost much of the use of his fine motor skills in his upper body. He hasn't eaten solid food since January 2017. He drinks shakes but has an incredibly difficult time getting them down because he can't swallow. He can't drink water. He has lost almost 40lbs. He is scheduled to get a feeding tube.

Somehow, miraculously, Bernie has kept his spirits up. He is looking towards new drug trials and stem cell therapies. Bernie has an amazing perspective and optimism. In addition to his focus on health research, Bernie has kept creating. He has been writing lyrics prolifically. 

Our voice lessons have now evolved into something different because Bernie's voice has not returned. (It's been gone for over a year now. ) Bernie has asked me to put music, melody, and chords to his lyrics to complete the songs he hears in his head. Together we wrote a song called "Simon's Hero." It's a song Bernie wrote for his daughter's future children that he will likely not live long enough to meet. The lyrics are his advice for living a good life, and his view of the world. He wrote this song for his future grandchildren so they will know who their grandfather was when he is no longer here. Since Bernie can no longer sing or play the guitar, he asked me to compose the melody and guitar chord progression. We recorded it 2 weeks ago. I am singing the lead vocal and his daughter Nicole is singing harmonies. My longtime friend and acclaimed producer Daniel Berkman produced the recording. I am posting lyrics below.

I have never known anyone in Bernie's specific situation but I can relate to the tragedy of a father and daughter losing eachother because I lost my own father, who I was very close to, ten years ago to pancreatic cancer. Bernie and Nicole are very close. To say this circumstance strikes a nerve is an understatement. I feel compelled to help Bernie and Nicole. Originally, I had the idea to help Bernie raise funds for he and Nicole to have some special times together while he is still able to walk. I thought perhaps they could take a trip together. But Bernie said no. He didn't want that.

Bernie's wish is to make an album of his songs. Even though he can't sing or play the guitar anymore he has written lyrical content for countless songs.  His words are honest. Heartfelt. Wise. Witty. Deep. I've been working on putting together a creative team to bring Bernie's songs to life. Under Bernie's direction, I'd like to help him raise funds to make this dream come true -- as well as help him with his practical needs.

Bernie has a clear musical vision. He wants to record analog. He communicates the parts he hears in his head by writing on a dry erase board.

Acclaimed producers Daniel Berkman (My longtime collaborator and producer) and David Simon Baker (Jackie Greene, Nicki Bluhm, Los Lobos) and myself are interested in helping Bernie make this album. Roger Rocha, famed guitarist, songwriter, producer of The Goldenhearts and 4 Non Blondes is also in.  Bernie's daughter Nicole will sing some of the vocals. We are all willing to donate time but there are still realities of paying for studio time and babysitters and basic living expenses so we can survive and not have to take other jobs to pay bills while we prioritize and focus on Bernie's music, NOW. 

Short of a miracle, Bernie doesn't have a lot of time. This disease is progressing rapidly. We want to help him make this record while he still can. It will give him something to focus on besides his deteriorating health. Making this record will fullfill Bernie's lifelong musical dream. And music heals the spirit in times of uncertainty and distress. I cannot think of a better way to spend the rest of his time on earth.

Bernie will need accomodations while recording because he lives in Santa Cruz and the studios we will work in are in San Francisco and Marin County. He can't drive that far in his condition.

If there are any monies leftover after completing the record, they will go to Bernie's living and medical expenses, and his daughter Nicole.

We have already reserved studio time beginning the week of 7/24, because there is no time to waste. 

Please donate what you can! Help Bernie make the album he has been dreaming of! All donors will receive copies of the recordings.

Your generosity will be deeply appreciated by Bernie and his family. 

Thank you on behalf of Bernie and his daughter Nicole. 

Essence Goldman
www.essencemusic.com


"Simon's Hero"
Copyright Bernie Dalton 2017

Know that I loathe those who care about cool
Know I disdain trends and those who thrive on 'em
Know I can't stand the masses manipulated, processed and packaged
Know that I loathe the shallow people who assume
And you need to know the one's who ca don't always do

My contrived echos all lifted
Simon's Hero is gifted
Hovering back at zero

Know that I loathe the self centered modern man
Know that faster isn't always the answer
Know I can't stand this conditioned response of
me in front of you, I don't even care about you
And know that hardship is endured for a reason
You need to know it lasts so long so we never forget
Know it's not divine punishment dealt with a heavy hand for a moral debt

My contrived echos all lifted
Simon's Hero is gifted
Hovering back at zero

Know sometimes bad happens to a good man
Know to fight upstream against the mainstreem for what you believe in
Know I've seen unconditional love from both ends
It's the only true measure of a great man

My contrived echos all lifted
Simon's Hero is gifted
Hovering back at zero

Know love will take her sweet blessed time
Know she may not be the one you've been dreaming
Know every situation, all probable outcomes 
Hold love at the center of it all
Hold love at the center of it all
And you can never be wrong

My contrived echos all lifted
Simon's Hero is gifted
Hovering back at zero


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Organizer

Essence Goldman 
Organizer
San Francisco, CA
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