Purple Mountains (RIP David Berman, August 2019)

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Nastanovich’s quote in the pitchfork rememberances really hits home:

It was enlightening to have such a talented friend at a young age and realize that the talent wasn’t always a blessing.

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Thursday, 8 August 2019 10:00 (one year ago) link

real mc recognize real mc

rest in peace to the great David Berman 😞

— el-p (@therealelp) August 8, 2019

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 8 August 2019 12:38 (one year ago) link

I have no words for this, really. I was going to see him play on Monday, and was looking forward to it, having never gotten a chance to catch the joos. I'd been listening to the new album a ton since it came out. I don't know if I can listen to it again for a while.

Auld Drink of Misery (zchyrs), Thursday, 8 August 2019 12:46 (one year ago) link

The dead know what they are doing when they leave this world behind.

From Nights That Won't Happen

A little spooky, as if he had planned it in advance...

je est un autre, l'enfer c'est les autres (alex in mainhattan), Thursday, 8 August 2019 13:00 (one year ago) link

Definitely. The whole song comes off as foreboding in hindsight:

And as much as we might like to seize the reel and hit rewind
Or quicken our pursuit of what we're guaranteed to find
When the dying's finally done and the suffering subsides
All the suffering gets done by the ones we leave behind
All the suffering gets done by the ones we leave behind

pomenitul, Thursday, 8 August 2019 13:02 (one year ago) link

Some of the heaviest lyrics on the album, for sure. I hadn't really fully finished processing a lot of parts of the record (and now it will probably be a very long time before I return to it, if ever), but up until yesterday I'd bean hearing those lyrics as an argument against suicide, an indictment of it from someone who'd been there and only in hindsight understands the magnitude & consequences. Now I feel like a dope for thinking that, like I was grafting an optimistic reading onto it to make myself feel good. I dunno. Today that verse just reads like a blunt statement of fact. Awful.

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Thursday, 8 August 2019 13:13 (one year ago) link

I went through the exact same process.

pomenitul, Thursday, 8 August 2019 13:14 (one year ago) link

Just miserable at this news. My favourite living songwriter, and now he isn't. Sound-magic & richness of all those lyrics. So many ways of being brilliant.

I'd been treating it as an out-the-other-side album, but it wasn't, obviously. Peace to you, DB.

woof, Thursday, 8 August 2019 13:30 (one year ago) link

I listened to Purple Mountains for the first time this morning. I hadn't realized the whole thing was on Spotify yet. I had heard Margaritas at the Mall first and kinda waved it off. I wasn't really ready to hunker down with David Berman in the excitement of early summer. Oh my god, what a record.

☮ (peace, man), Thursday, 8 August 2019 13:44 (one year ago) link

I never listened to his shit, as WORDS WORDS WORDS is not really my preference… but I hung out with him 2 or 3 times, and found him to be very engaging, not in the least sadsack… at the time, I very much hated my boss, and when I was introduced to him and I told him where I worked, he asked me why my boss is such a asshole, and launched into a diatribe about how unpleasant she was…he and got along great afterwards…

veronica moser, Thursday, 8 August 2019 13:50 (one year ago) link

I hadn't taken the time with the Purple Mountains record until now, sadly, and fuck, it's good. It has some of his best lyrics ever. It has cringey moments too, the way a suicidal person's self-pity often does, where you just want to scream "No! You don't have to see things that way!" but you know that something in their chemistry or their soul just makes it that they can't help it. But the best moments are so good.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 8 August 2019 14:12 (one year ago) link

And yeah, the suicide note aspects are all over it, sadly. He's pretty frank and straightforward about how he came to feel about his life and it's gut-wrenching.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 8 August 2019 14:19 (one year ago) link

why can't monsters
get along with other monsters?

jakey mo collier (voodoo chili), Thursday, 8 August 2019 14:28 (one year ago) link

joining the chorus of people really devastated by this news last night. in a way that no artist/musician passing has hit me since i was 18 or 19.

one of the greatest nights of my life was out-of-nowhere getting guest-listed into the first silver jews tour at 40 watt in athens, while in town on tour for a single night...and just being awash in how great it was. thanks for that, dcb.

dronestreet, Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:03 (one year ago) link

God he was funny

From a David Berman interview I did in 2001. "I don’t expect to be insulted by being told Ryan Adams in the best songwriter in America. Maybe mid-period Steve Forbert B sides sound fresh to some ears. It's just self-pity in rock. These people have no compassion for anybody."

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:11 (one year ago) link

watched the Israel doc which is on YouTube last night, been putting it off for The Right Time and obviously, well, cried and cried and cried

Clay, Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:17 (one year ago) link

I've never even heard of Steve Forbert before, but just looking at his album covers and song titles that sounds OTM

☮ (peace, man), Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:17 (one year ago) link

he is also otm about ryan adams and seems like a very compassionate person in addition to being funny and clever and gifted with sight & the ability to translate the seeing into words for us to enjoy :(

i like when someone can be amusing without being mean and he never seemed mean to me. his father was so mean & cruel that i think it made him aggressively the opposite, afaict. selfish wrt self-destructive habits, but kind at heart? is this accurate?

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:18 (one year ago) link

He strikes me as a guy who possessed a high level of empathy and sensitivity and I think when faced with a brazen and smug lack of empathy (let alone in one’s own family) it can be extremely painful. Everything I’ve read about his father suggests that’s the type of person he is.

omar little, Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:24 (one year ago) link

people that knew him seem to speak affectionately of him

Ryan Adams is so thoroughly phony and full of shit, I can imagine it rankled someone who seemed to try to look life in the eye

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:25 (one year ago) link

i totally understand that about him, that is why i was asking to confirm. i don't know the guy personally and there is something about his relationship with his (legitimately terrible) father that struck a nerve w me when i heard it years ago. when one's father is so awful and one is so sensitive, how does one cope? it's a very lonely feeling. idk if he had siblings or not, or if they felt the same way.

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:27 (one year ago) link

I remember seeing an interview with the surviving members of joy division where they said they never paid much attention ian curtis' lyrics. Then he killed himself and they realized how much of his suffering was laid bare in those lyrics.
I'm having a similar moment listening to the purple mountains album this morning.

Just in the first minute of the first song:
"the life I lead is sickening / i spent a decade playing chicken with oblivion
day to day i'm neck and neck with giving in / i'm the same old wreck i've always been"

enochroot, Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:32 (one year ago) link

awful awful news. Back in ‘98, I remember seeing how the spine of the American Water CD mimicked the old Bob Dylan style and laughing at the chutzpah of that move – and then listening to the record over and over and thinking … “Well, fair enough.” I’m thinking now of seeing him play about a decade ago in Denver. When the last song was over, he didn’t go backstage. He hopped down and walked through the crowd, shaking hands and grinning, before cruising out into the Colfax night.

tylerw, Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:33 (one year ago) link

I don't even really care about Ryan Adams but I hated the sort of "Ryan Adams culture" that existed at his peak, this weird, phony, cold, music-critic driven rockism that felt like a bunch of desperate paleontologists dusting off rocks and bones to find something "real." A certain kind of doucheyness that is not a jock doucheyness but the guy-who-resented-the-jock-in-high-school doucheyness and thinks that the resentment = victimhood = entitlement.

I never met David Berman but he definitely seemed in his public persona and music like the opposite of that, a kind person who was really afraid he wasn't kind enough, a person driven by shame that he never did anything to deserve, who couldn't believe that he was good enough.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:37 (one year ago) link

him, jason molina, vic chestnutt - a whole generation of great songwriters already gone.

Heez, Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:42 (one year ago) link

Elliott Smith, too...

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:48 (one year ago) link

yeah i thought about "farewell transmission" last night

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:49 (one year ago) link

i'm crushed, too, but ... i mean there are lots of great songwriters in that generation still around!

alpine static, Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:50 (one year ago) link

I'm assembling people to read from David Berman's work outside of the Met Breuer (former location of the Whitney) as an informal memorial gesture. 7pm Thurs Aug 7th. Please spread the word, let me know if you would like to read anything, and check on your friends. #DavidBerman pic.twitter.com/3QiAz2yzqB

— Lance Bangs (@lancebangs) August 8, 2019

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:58 (one year ago) link

(sic: tonight, Aug 8th)

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:58 (one year ago) link

I'd been treating it as an out-the-other-side album, but it wasn't, obviously. Peace to you, DB.

― woof, Thursday, August 8, 2019 9:30 AM (two hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

Yeah it's really painful to realize he wasn't reflecting on past struggles.

Evan, Thursday, 8 August 2019 16:16 (one year ago) link

Just want to point out that from those recent interviews posted above, it sounds like he was still in touch with his dad, who paid for his treatment etc. I also don’t recall him saying that his dad was a bad father (other than a story about his dad being competitive when they played board games, and “he wasn’t even sorry!” when he beat young David at Sorry).

I know that DCB made his shame & hatred of his father’s professional life a structuring part of his own “story,” but I wouldn’t assume that his bad relationship with his father was a two-way street, or that his dad didn’t love him or somehow caused David’s pain through bad parenting.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Thursday, 8 August 2019 16:18 (one year ago) link

As a closing couplet, "If no one's fond of fucking me/Maybe no one's fucking fond of me" is a pretty great/sad/hilarious/heartbreaking one.

My favorite moment on Purple Mountains is his "She was, she was" in "I Loved Being My Mother's Son."

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 8 August 2019 16:36 (one year ago) link

I hadn't listened to Silver Jews in many years, so this didn't hit me the way Elliot Smith, Mark Linkhous, or Vic Chestnutt's suicides did, but having felt the sorrow after those (to this day I find it very difficult to listen to an Elliot Smith album all the way through and haven't been able to watch the documentary either) I know how this feels to those really close to his music. My friend Nick just posted on FB how this underscores how important it is for people to tell those whose art touched them what it means, and I agree, but I also know that in cases like Berman's it can fall on deaf ears, depression is an all encompassing and smothering force, and you often do not hear or accept words of love from others. That said I still shot Eitzel an email saying I was happy he was still around.

akm, Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:09 (one year ago) link

I know it’s an overstatement to talk about “all” the leading men of this generation, but between the drug toll on the grunge guys and the indie suicides (and Kurt, managing to be both), it is a pretty blasted landscape.

Gen X forever skeptical of its own achievements.

It was linked earlier, but the Ringer profile from early July is hard to read as a last-days portrait (once you get past the simple comeback-album intro).


... (Eazy), Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:20 (one year ago) link

^^ yes, that's a wonderful, heartbreaking piece

Karl Malone, Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:24 (one year ago) link

After I read that I said to my wife, “I don’t know if he’s going to live much longer.”

Gen X forever skeptical of its own achievements.

― a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony (tipsy mothra), Thursday, August 8, 2019 1:14 PM (twelve minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

to be fair, the world for guys like Berman has changed a lot since he started releasing records, and not necessarily for the better

Paul Ponzi, Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:29 (one year ago) link

Yeah, for sure.

Yeah, that one was good. Also, I just read this interview, which I guess took place sometime in the last 48 hours?


I had read the SPIN review he refers to as being the worst, including the part about the reviewer doing a bit of projecting, I guess you could say. I also didn't like it, and I thought about bringing it up here, but what's the point of criticizing critics about their criticism of a relentless self-critic. I'd just finished trying to make a point about that upthread, and at this point I don't think it could mean any less anyway.

Self-Ignition, now that was a good song.


"...and I have to remember your not wanting me doesn't make me any less here."

del griffith, Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:38 (one year ago) link

I was really loving the new album, which despite all the scars had such a glow of tenderness and gratitude to it and it just seems so sad now

ogmor, Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:55 (one year ago) link

The first 3 or 4 Silver Jews records were (and still are) super important to me, I need to go back and listen to the last two. I've been listening to Purple Mountains a lot and like a lot of people here I was excited about seeing him live, as I never got the chance when the Jews were still going. I remember listening to this a few weeks ago and feeling a little worried for him, though I imagined that the success of the new record might maybe bring him out of it...


pophatte (admrl), Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:57 (one year ago) link

When I told David I was getting married 11 years ago, he asked me for some interesting details and observations about Colette and then just before our wedding day we received an eight-panel Berman cartoon in the post, as a gift for Colette. I'll try and dig it out this weekend. https://t.co/lzxeUrznuD

— Andrew Male (@Andr6wMale) August 8, 2019

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 8 August 2019 18:02 (one year ago) link

disappointed but not surprised he dislikes "Old Town Road" tbh

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 8 August 2019 18:15 (one year ago) link

very fair criticism of OTR imo

Vape Store (crüt), Thursday, 8 August 2019 18:33 (one year ago) link

In 2016, we asked David Berman for a quote about the mid-90s early days of Jagjaguwar in Charlottesville. Instead, he sent a loving, hilarious and slyly beautiful poem about UVA football, the early Internet and plant life. Now, we share it with you.https://t.co/JvKfDy65t7 pic.twitter.com/oJnUWHJcwS

— JAGJAGUWAR (@jagjaguwar) August 8, 2019

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 8 August 2019 18:38 (one year ago) link

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