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Indie Rock Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Silver Jews – Random Rules

Day 18 (R). The late, great David Berman was as much a poet as he was a musician and “In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection” is generally considered to be one of the greatest lines to ever open an album. Random Rules opens Silver Jews’ (affectionately known as the “Joos”) third studio album, American Water, a key album in both Indie Rock mythology & a masterpiece by a truly unique artist. A truly unique artist who will be sorely missed.

In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection
Slowly screwing my way across Europe, they had to make a correction
Broken and smokin’ where the infrared deer plunge in the digital snake
I tell you, they make it so you can’t shake hands when they make your hands shake

I know you like to line dance, everything so democratic and cool
But baby there’s no guidance when random rules

I know that a lot of what I say has been lifted off of men’s room walls
Maybe I’ve crossed the wrong rivers and walked down all the wrong halls
But nothing can change the fact that we used to share a bed
And that’s why it scared me so when you turned to me and said”

Yeah, you look like someone
Yeah you look like someone who up and left me low
Boy, you look like someone I used to know”

I know you like to line dance, everything so democratic and cool
But baby there’s no guidance when random rules

I asked the painter why the roads are colored black
He said, “Steve, it’s because people leave
And no highway will bring them back”
So if you don’t want me I promise not to linger
But before I go I gotta ask you dear about the tan line on your ring finger

No one should have two lives
Now you know my middle names are wrong and right
Honey we’ve got two lives to give tonight
To give tonight
To give tonight, oh oh oh oh oh

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Categories
Music Poetry

David Marchese on David Berman’s suicide

As you can probably tell by now, I really like David Berman. This is a quote I found in the New York Times Magazines ‘The Lives They Lived’ article by David Marchese. I’m found it particularly moving and terrifying. The ‘100 nights’ quite Marchese uses is, in fact, from the interview win Berman I discussed in this blog post.

In an interview not long before he died, Berman said, “There probably were 100 nights over the last 10 years where I was sure I wouldn’t make it till morning.” One hundred nights he made it. One he did not. My scrambled brain is stuck on what those numbers might mean. Destiny or contingence? Tragedy or resilience? An obstacle to Berman’s gift or a source of its sublimity? I don’t know, but I keep going back to one of the last times I heard from my friend. “David Berman’s songs,” he said, “make me feel gratitude and hope. Even when forces seem to be conspiring against such things.”

David Marchese, New York Times Magazine December 23rd 2019

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Categories
Literature Music Poetry

David Berman Interview and Pics

On August 7th of 2019, Indie rock poet laureate and enigmatic Silver Jews frontman David Berman took his own life. For years previous he’d struggled with what he referred to as “treatment” resistant depression. A particularly sad aspect of his suicide is that a month earlier, on July 12th, Berman had made a triumphant return to the indie limelight with a new album from a new project under the name of Purple Mountains. This followed a ten-year hiatus following the dissolution of Silver Jews in 2009 after the release of their final album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea in 2008.

Purple Mountains is a particularly bleak record. His depression, the death of his mother and recent separation from wife, Cassis Berman, all explored in forensic and often uncomfortable detail. Despite this, he seemed to have benefited from cathartic release of all of these pent-up emotions and was even looking forward to the upcoming tour in the August of 2019.

His suicide was felt keenly by the indie rock world. J Mascis, of Dinosaur Jr, succinctly tweeted “Fucking Shit, come on man this is BullShit” alongside a photo of Berman. Others, like Kurt Vile, Cat Power wrote long, thought provoking pieces about how much of an inspiration he was. Former Silver Jews members, Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich also tweeted in remembrance of their friend.

In June, he gave an interview to the Kreative Kontrol podcast, linked here. Berman gives a candid interview in which he discusses his father (ultra-conservative, union-busting lobbyist, Richard Berman), his depression, bereavement of his mother, separation and much more. Despite the subject matter, he sounds upbeat and optimistic about the future, especially in regard to his upcoming tour. If you have time, and you’re a fan, I strongly suggest listening to the interview as it is incredibly insightful and comforting to hear him sound almost comfortable with himself.

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