Purple Mountains (RIP David Berman, August 2019)

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Ned, thanks for that. I had to send it to my UVA-grad brother-in-law with a "wahoowah" attached.

I'm not even prepared to let myself start thinking about what this must be like from Cassie's side. I mean, he was well aware that the suffering gets done by the ones we leave behind.

Here's a lighter shade of his apocalypse from 1994:

A drawing David Berman sent me entitled “At The End of the World” after I interviewed him for my fanzine in 1994 pic.twitter.com/JZqLycyRNQ

— John Masters (@johnnymetro) August 8, 2019

del griffith, Thursday, 8 August 2019 20:09 (nine months ago) link

Just saw these posted - three long interviews from 2013/2014. Below is the first, the other two are on the same Youtube channel.

"This is an audio-only phone interview I conducted with David Berman in late Dec 2013 when I was working on a book proposal for the 33 1/3 series on American Water. The book was never made but I thought in the wake of his death today that others might like to hear it. He talks about the difficult process of making the Natural Bridge and how American Water was so much easier, his mental health throughout that period, his writing process and more."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqjwDK00rts

city worker, Thursday, 8 August 2019 20:13 (nine months ago) link

If, over the last month, you'd caught me staring into the distance and asked me what I was thinking about, my honest answer would likely be one of the following:

a) nothing. the words 'ceaseless feasts of schadenfreude' are just circling round in my head.

b) the words 'ceaseless feasts of schadenfreude' have been circling round in my head for days - without a melody - and I am part-meditating on, part-wondering at David Berman's pure and precise mastery of the magic of language-sound - how can he work this phonemic hypnosis on me?

c) I'm thinking about about how 'that's just the way I feel' syntactically/formally moves perfectly, really perfectly over those first verses and god the funny/bleak/honest tone; and how I think it falls off a little with that 'I met failure in Australia' section, which almost feels like quotebait - but then he caps it with 'That’s the shit I'm talkin bout/When I talk to you about/Ceaseless feasts of schadenfreude', and that second 'ceaseless feasts' makes it feel like the trap has closed and the joke is properly deadly again.

d) Nothing. The words 'Trotting the sod of the visible with no new word from God' are just circling round in my head.

Anyway I'm drunk and just listening and staying up late.

woof, Thursday, 8 August 2019 22:21 (nine months ago) link

absolutely devastating

flopson, Thursday, 8 August 2019 22:22 (nine months ago) link

That Spin review he referenced is by Brian Howe, who’s also responsible for my least favorite Pitchfork review ever, which was a cruel and faintly misogynist takedown of a very good Edith Frost record.

Also her last one so far...

... (Eazy), Thursday, 8 August 2019 22:24 (nine months ago) link

this guy sounds like bad company

triple-washed (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 8 August 2019 23:13 (nine months ago) link

the world is and will always be a david berman lyric. i miss you so much, david.

— Bill Callahan (@BillCallaman) August 8, 2019

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 8 August 2019 23:15 (nine months ago) link

A great David Berman concept...: pic.twitter.com/GBnIq0flpm

— Neil Hamburger (@NeilHamburger) August 8, 2019

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 8 August 2019 23:17 (nine months ago) link

posting a pitchfork link (replete with FB tracker tag) in this thread is pretty crass imho.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 9 August 2019 02:17 (nine months ago) link

huh

flappy bird, Friday, 9 August 2019 04:38 (nine months ago) link

pitchfork didn't kill him

Simon H., Friday, 9 August 2019 05:03 (nine months ago) link

Standing room only on the sidewalk outside the Met for David Berman. pic.twitter.com/IO4TH1XHkJ

— Brian Heater (@bheater) August 8, 2019

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 9 August 2019 05:30 (nine months ago) link

need more embedded tweets by indie guys to atone (xp)

husserl gang (rip van wanko), Friday, 9 August 2019 05:33 (nine months ago) link

That article doesn't not read like a composite of several of the ones I read yesterday that preceded it

Paul Ponzi, Friday, 9 August 2019 10:50 (nine months ago) link

More kind words: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/postscript/david-berman-made-us-feel-less-alone

EvR, Friday, 9 August 2019 11:30 (nine months ago) link

There's something so annoying to me about the new yorker piece. maybe it's in part bc of all of the bad press nyt has been getting lately bc of their constant faux pas's and i am just lazily conflating them and the new yorker, but these days i get almost angry when i see the new yorker's dumb logo and pretentious faux old graphic design etc. wow! shocker that some person has an oblique connection with him from back in the day that they can work into their article about his life and death.

as if I were strolling through a gorgeous museum whose construction I’d glimpsed through a peephole

like wtf. there is that book "miller bukowski and their enemies" (yeah, i know but.) which i think sums it up well... the posthumous adulation for people that one never would have deigned to shake hands with during their creative period or actual messiness of their lives. i'm so sure that the writer gave a fuck or ever thought about him while he was like, living in a literal crackhouse or whatever. but thankfully now he can be packaged safely! i mean, i realize i probably sound like ppl who complained about kurt cobain obits back in the day, but there's something so insulting about it. a comeback from addiction makes money and a death from related issues does too. it's just gross to me. whatever...

dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 15:10 (nine months ago) link

"Listening to his songs, I always feel an active wonder."

there are not enough "ughs" in the world!

dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 15:22 (nine months ago) link

The New Yorker suxx... not in the same way as the NY Times (whose offenses are worse than mere “faux pas”), but I always regret clicking into & reading a New Yorker “essay.” I guess they still run long, investigative articles that are worthwhile.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Friday, 9 August 2019 15:25 (nine months ago) link

if i ever felt an "active wonder" listening to something I would ask my gp to up my depends scrip.

dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 15:26 (nine months ago) link

GEN X

flappy bird, Friday, 9 August 2019 15:28 (nine months ago) link

yah, and despite my bile i think they have actually gotten much better in the last 2-3 years. but, it's always so jarring to see an attempt to sum up someone's life/death mated w the dumb happy caricature face and other graphic design stuff that i guess is supposed to be super-endearing but to me is just like, borderline-enraging at this point. but whatever. i have issues!

dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 15:29 (nine months ago) link

their long, investigative articles remain worthwhile

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 9 August 2019 15:30 (nine months ago) link

i have issues!

So do I -- they accumulate on my living room table week after week!

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 9 August 2019 15:30 (nine months ago) link

ummm I think y'all are doing some very strange projecting onto that very sweet & mild obit essay but w/e

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Friday, 9 August 2019 15:30 (nine months ago) link

otm

tylerw, Friday, 9 August 2019 15:39 (nine months ago) link

lol, yes and see my 2-3 yrs thing... their longform stuff has if anything improved in the last couple yrs imo

but

the obit essay bummed me. likely i am strangely projecting. but why should everything be neatly wrapped up into a new yorker obit or pitchfork piece? his life was evidently severely messy, as most of ours probably are upon reasonable inspection, and the tone of her piece rubs me the wrong way.

Berman’s friends were supporting him, caring for him; his record label, Drag City, was, too, even housing him in recent months. His fans were eager for his tour, which was to begin this weekend. We wish he hadn’t suffered; we’re grateful he existed. We loved him to the max.

um, ok? it just seems weirdly antiseptic. i mean i guess I am just bitter for the very fact of him killing himself, and it's spilling over, but i hate the attempt to wrap it up into a neat package by legacy media or whatever.

dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 15:45 (nine months ago) link

Death, unfortunately, is great PR. But I don't see what makes this piece any worse (or any better) than any of the other mostly identical 15 or 20 I've read over the past 24 hours.

Paul Ponzi, Friday, 9 August 2019 15:50 (nine months ago) link

I liked the New Yorker piece and I don't really understand these criticisms.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 9 August 2019 16:06 (nine months ago) link

As advanced as we consider ourselves,
we still allow ad copy to pander to us.
The scam exposed, it endures with our permission
as a parallel narrative running beside our lives
where we sit with an unbuttered baked potato
and a warm beer in multiple versions of Akron
leavened with foreclosure, heartburn and rain.

Great-grandfather’s hobbies, whether they be botany or magic,
can barely make sense to a boy named Occupant III.

Their genius was to let us criticize them
until it became boring and obvious to do so.

Meanwhile they were up ahead, busily constructing a world
in which boring and obvious criticism
was about the worst thing you could do,
and when we reached them in time they were waiting
with their multiple Akrons,
always one link ahead in the chain of consent.

del griffith, Friday, 9 August 2019 16:22 (nine months ago) link

OTOH I listened to the Kreative Kontrol interview and I found the host's joviality painful--I guess to no fault of his own since it's not like he knew Berman was going to die, but some of his readings of things annoyed me, particularly when he missed the fact that drinking margaritas at the mall is obviously supposed to evoke something depressing, not something "fun"--in fact it's the bad simulacra of fun that makes it especially depressing. I think the host even said something about it being like a "resort"--no dude, it's fucking called "margaritas at the mall"! Not at a resort!

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 9 August 2019 16:26 (nine months ago) link

man, don't you just hate it when people are wrong

del griffith, Friday, 9 August 2019 16:35 (nine months ago) link

just seems fucked up in light of the overall thrust of his lyrics and stuff. but whatever... everything sucks, for real.

dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 16:58 (nine months ago) link

(meant for the people defending the new yorker article).

dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 17:00 (nine months ago) link

need more embedded tweets by indie guys to atone (xp)

2.4

ayo those are his friends and colleagues, not a gaggle of "indie" (your word) edgelords who deleted their negative tweets/subtweets (in shame?)

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 9 August 2019 17:08 (nine months ago) link

didn't know his hatred for his dad was so well deserved

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 9 August 2019 17:19 (nine months ago) link

oh totally

sleeve, Friday, 9 August 2019 17:21 (nine months ago) link

I've now read the New Yorker thing and I think it's fine for what it is, but I agree w/del about how it feels a little weird to be summing up the "messiness" of this guy's life in a patly written thinkpiece; especially when he has so many interviews online that you can go back and read to really get a sense of who he was, what he was about, and the stuff he was dealing with. But these third-person essays aren't written for me, I don't need the hundredth piece quoting the lyrics of "People" or whatever; I guess they're intended to bring DCB to the attn. of readers who weren't aware of him (...but even then, in this context, it's like... ok? better late than never, I guess?)

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Friday, 9 August 2019 18:02 (nine months ago) link

if i ever felt an "active wonder" listening to something I would ask my gp to up my depends scrip.

― dell (del), Friday, August 9, 2019 4:26 PM (two hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

i lold

cheese canopy (map), Friday, 9 August 2019 18:07 (nine months ago) link

also wb dell

cheese canopy (map), Friday, 9 August 2019 18:08 (nine months ago) link

There's a lot of love in this, I think:

https://www.caughtbytheriver.net/2019/08/caught-by-the-reaper-david-berman/?fbclid=IwAR3ZYKGgnYaKIFSm3WVPNKIdUrVfInq8biDBIyt2qD6uNDX8tsTjdJR__wo

Thanks for posting this.

EvR, Friday, 9 August 2019 18:32 (nine months ago) link

I hate comparing two albums due to their creators fates, but this really reminds me of Vic Chestnutt’s ‘At the Cut’. Both come from this place of clear pain and oblivion (their word) but they seem to somehow be conquering it through wit and melody

Heez, Friday, 9 August 2019 18:59 (nine months ago) link

*whispers* you dont need a scrip for depends

gbx, Friday, 9 August 2019 19:16 (nine months ago) link

This Nastanovich quote, mentioned above:

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

Is easily the most satisfying eulogy to the man I've read over the past couple of days. That Berman would've been so concise in his delineation of human experience (its joy, questioning, confusion, suffering) suggests a hyper-sensitivity that could easily turn a cloudy day into an unbearable tragedy. What comforts me through his passing, aside from the fact that he left behind such a generous and rich body of work, is the hope that, along with the "storms" that his eulogists have repeatedly referred to as defining his life, there was also a balance of equally profound and exquisite joyousness, also. The eulogies I've read on Facebook from friends who had personal relationships with the man suggest that this was the case, story after story about what a delight he was.

flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, 9 August 2019 19:29 (nine months ago) link

thanks map.
it fucking sucks and yeah there is projection involved as a given in that we probably all know ppl who have been like, "okay, outta here" and subsequently it always brings up a lot of fucked-up feelings. they say that funerals and other associated rites are for the survivors more than the departed, and so this is my way of honoring him atm. if he was selfish enough to kill himself then i think it's ok for me to be selfish enough to throw a little fit about the state of, what'd i call it up there, "legacy media"? it's all good. i wasn't even a huge silver jews fan but i was a huge fan of what david berman stood for -- to me, in my mind. a sort of demonstrative naked honesty and unwillingness to compromise and a staunch if shocking ability to make (literal!) poetry of it.

dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 19:42 (nine months ago) link

there was also a balance of equally profound and exquisite joyousness, also. The eulogies I've read on Facebook from friends who had personal relationships with the man suggest that this was the case, story after story about what a delight he was.

otm. I like how Bob Nastanovich always seems to make a point to call attention to DBs humor. We all know his lyrics were wry and funny, but Bob will go out of his way to refer to DB as a "poet and humorist" and things like that. Beyond just "oh yeah he was a real funny guy", making sure he gets credit as someone who worked hard to make people laugh with his work.

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Friday, 9 August 2019 20:18 (nine months ago) link

i’d recommended the new purple mountains album to a colleague last week and as we normally bond over megan thee stallion and suchlike wasn’t sure what she’d think about it... she loved it and did some first listen notes:

General
Lyrics! This man is a poet non? (ed: googled, OK, yes, he is) By turns jaunty/mellow Americana with sad sad sad lyrics. He sounds so lonely.

That's just the way that I feel - super, love this song, more poppy than the rest. Can see why you’ve listened to it so much.

Snow is falling in Manhattan – “salts the stoop and scoops the cat in” lovely. This song feels like being wrapped up in a blanket in front of a fire which fits lyrics, obv. Feels like someone longing for security and safety. Liked the jarring use of smithereens. Eesh.

Shes making friends I'm turning stranger - Any song w tantamount in the opening line = cool. I know it’s about him but I like the way he draws this woman. Smalltown superstar. A bright character.

The rest kind of blend together tbh but words! Fond of fuxking fuxking fond of me. Stand the standard distance distant strangers stand apart. Happy hour got us by the balls. Try to drown thoughts in gin worst ideas know how to swim.

On the music, I like the shuffly guitar and drums. I don’t know how to describe it. Wooshywooshy softness. doesn’t sound like the words which, if you were to match music to it, would prob sound like screaming in pain.


and then next day she was “dave berman died :(“

Fizzles, Friday, 9 August 2019 20:30 (nine months ago) link

if he was selfish enough to kill himself then i think it's ok for me to be selfish enough to throw a little fit about the state of, what'd i call it up there, "legacy media"? it's all good.

Eh, I'd say not really. You're two entirely different people making two very different decisions for two very different reasons. I totally get the point you're making about these hermetically-sealed obituaries to be packaged and sold so people can read about them for 30 seconds and then maybe click on an ad, and it irritates me too, but why let yourself be surprised? If I'm understanding you correctly, your issue is with ad-driven media and isn't at all exclusive to the case of David Cloud Berman.

along with the "storms" that his eulogists have repeatedly referred to as defining his life, there was also a balance of equally profound and exquisite joyousness, also. The eulogies I've read on Facebook from friends who had personal relationships with the man suggest that this was the case, story after story about what a delight he was.

Yep. In the wake of a suicide, it's natural to point to some of the gloomier attitudes in the songs and be like "see! see!" but we're talking about the guy who wrote "I'm gonna shine out in the wild kindness and hold the world to its word." The unwillingness to compromise, the punk principles (the Germs tattoo!) were a huge part of what I liked about him, even if that mentality fueled a lot of his less hopeful perspectives too. Ultimately, I believe he was a self-righteous force for good, as evidenced by the fact that I wasn't the only fan to receive a few of his apparently abundant gestures of friendliness.

del griffith, Friday, 9 August 2019 20:57 (nine months ago) link

I can't help but contrast the dead American Jewish genius with the dead Canadian Jewish genius and note the similarities and contrasts between Berman and Cohen.

First of all I say "Jewish" but it's not actually about Judaism, it's about (firstly) a relationship with spirituality and a desire to capture the infinite, and (secondly) about having zero practical musical talent and seeing that as an asset rather than a burden (and it absolutely is an asset, as a songwriter).

There is the fact that Canadian songwriters are unable to make references to Canadian places-- America is The Place, Canada is not The Place, and so making a reference to Portland or San Francisco is within the territory of the collective human consciousness, but making a reference to Medicine Hat or Quebec City seems comedic, like the songwriter is suddenly in drag and doing a bit.

There is the fact that Berman was a prodigious brainstormer and Cohen was a prodigious editor-- every line of a Berman song was an epiphany or a wordplay more powerful than the entire song of a lesser songwriter, but the lines were seldom effectively unified to a single thesis-- Cohen, on the other hand, was devoted to a thesis, and didn't allow for hairiness or inefficiency, but his songs were not as confounding as Berman's songs were.

flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, 9 August 2019 21:14 (nine months ago) link


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