Purple Mountains (RIP David Berman, August 2019)

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Not all messages are displayed: show all messages (759 of them)

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 (one year 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 (one year ago) link

*whispers* you dont need a scrip for depends

gbx, Friday, 9 August 2019 19:16 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year 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 (one year ago) link

xposts Yes, fair enough...

aside from that, I'd been scared to listen to purple mountains over the past day or so but man it's actually a really life-affirming record? to my ears. Like the honky-tonk vibe on the first track only escalates the dude you just need another drink or a nap thing. get out of the metaphorical west and into the actual space away from your mind. is that a crazy reading? it's something like felt's all the people i like are those that are dead. yes! exactly! so taken to its logical conclusion it's like a health powder. be those crystal spires my man

dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 21:17 (one year ago) link

I listened to it today, and enjoyed it; listening felt like the appropriate tribute, and the record did feel more affirming than sad. Though "Nights That Won't Happen" definitely hits you.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Friday, 9 August 2019 21:23 (one year ago) link

It is life-affirming. It's a beautiful work of art. It's a gift to us. Its very existence affirms the life-time spent making it. This is easy for me to say because I wasn't a personal friend of his, and I don't know for a fact that he died on his own terms. But I suspect he did. And just because someone dies on their own terms doesn't mean their life was meaningless, or that they didn't enhance other peoples lives while they were here.

I feel the album can be safely summarized by these lines from the first track:

A setback can be a setup for a comeback if you don't let up
but this kind of hurting won't heal.
The end of all wanting is all I've been wanting
and that's just the way that I feel.

You don't have to be Ian Curtis's former bandmates to retroactively read that the way it was intended.

I will miss more songs from him, constantly.

del griffith, Friday, 9 August 2019 21:38 (one year ago) link

been feeling the comforting intention of Snow is Falling in Manhattan

triple-washed (Sufjan Grafton), Friday, 9 August 2019 22:22 (one year ago) link

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.

different kind of sadness but this reminded me of another dead canadian genius

american bradass (BradNelson), Friday, 9 August 2019 22:28 (one year ago) link

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

I gotta say, I really dont get the characterization of pieces like that NYer obit as being crass commercial clickbait cash-ins? Surely there are more popular and clickworthy things that could have taken up that space than a personal essay-obit on a marginal poet-songwriter who probably didn't sell 20k copies of any single album? Like whatever your criticisms of that piece might be, clearly the writer was a huge fan and had an honest connection to him & his music and wanted to express something about it. Whether she did his life & work justice or not, she obviously wasn't sitting thinking "I've gotta quickly churn some uplifting words out about this ultra-minor-celebrity to get those newyorker.com pageviews up to our weekly quota!"

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Friday, 9 August 2019 22:37 (one year ago) link

I get that people feel protective of him but it's not exactly like post-Cobain vultures feasting on his legacy. A lot of writers had a strong enough connection to his music taht they felt compelled to write something, and in the 24hrs they had to turn around a piece some hit the mark better than others but I dont think anyone is getting rich off of David Berman obits this week.

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Friday, 9 August 2019 22:38 (one year ago) link

Of note:

Patiently waiting forever for the album made by Berman, Bejar and Malkmus, which Berman rejected on completion.

— Judy MillerSilverman (@motormouthmedia) August 9, 2019

I recall seeing it on the Dropbox I share with the studio and thinking I shouldn’t listen to someone’s unfinished album. There is a code there.

— Carl Newman (@ACNewman) August 9, 2019

Ned Raggett, Friday, 9 August 2019 22:40 (one year ago) link

Yeah that’s pretty wild — is it the same songs as on the purple mountains LP or other stuff entirely?

tylerw, Friday, 9 August 2019 22:44 (one year ago) link

excellent posts from fgti

budo jeru, Friday, 9 August 2019 22:55 (one year ago) link

“Diamonds in the Mine” feels in some ways like the ur-text for Purple Mountains.

... (Eazy), Friday, 9 August 2019 23:44 (one year ago) link

Pulled up my 2008 tour diary tonight. From the week opening for #SilverJews pic.twitter.com/3H7m0aOjmT

— Ryan H. Walsh (@JahHills) August 9, 2019

... (Eazy), Friday, 9 August 2019 23:55 (one year ago) link

I really dont get the characterization of pieces like that NYer obit as being crass commercial clickbait cash-ins?

Just to clarify, I haven't read it, but I don't have a problem with it. I was just responding to dell's grievance about the alleged tone of this eulogy piece in particular by saying that I can empathize with the frustration of having to see these sorts of things under these sorts of circumstances in general ("hey, someone died, so here's a tribute").

del griffith, Saturday, 10 August 2019 00:02 (one year ago) link

thanks del griffith for yr post upthread (I should change my name if I keep on posting!)

speaking for myself, yeah, yah i don't think it's like, reflexx quickbait but it's irritating nonetheless. maybe none of us know how to best write about the recently departed but for whatever reason that piece just seemed like an empty and fairly depressing neoliberal exercise. but whatever. that's just one dell's take.

dell (del), Saturday, 10 August 2019 00:16 (one year ago) link

I hear ya. If one doesn't make a living stringing together words for people to read, then one would have no reason to rush to put out some words for sale about someone suddenly departed. The things you've said in the past, and everything that will eventually be written about them anyway, should be good enough for now.

(I think you were here first, so that'd be on me! I'm probably due for a name change/message board resignation anyway if I'm getting emotionally invested enough to interject myself into conversations about issues that I believe deep down are pointless)

del griffith, Saturday, 10 August 2019 00:34 (one year ago) link

the double del of heat

del griffith, Saturday, 10 August 2019 00:34 (one year ago) link

this song never needed that pre-chorus anyway

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

del griffith, Saturday, 10 August 2019 00:37 (one year ago) link

aw man, that is a good song.

postscript of sorts, i recently took a trip out west and stopped at an antique store in antelope valley w my girlfriend. the proprietor was otherwordly charming and warned us that there might be flash floods coming over the mountains before we walked in. she was really beautiful. she had some eighties-era country music blasting throughout the store and now I wish I had followed up on my my thought of asking her exactly what it was! It was all one artist, one cd (she was old school that way) but it was very much like the tune you posted above. The funny or not-so-funny thing is, ever since that trip i have been wanting to listen to country music before, during, and after. Whether Beachwood Sparks pastiches or Waylon late night songs. The landscape hit me hard, it was right on that part where nevada slants and you can be in California in an instant. This country is insanely beautiful. Damn.

dell (del), Saturday, 10 August 2019 01:32 (one year ago) link

Berman really helped 20 year old me from the south who always associated country with authority and conservatism appreciate country again. just picked up a george strait record at an antique store recently!

Heez, Saturday, 10 August 2019 01:39 (one year ago) link

(unrelated xpost!) and also I was doing a dad visit so no doubt I had some berman-esque thoughts in my mind.

I guess where I stumble is trying to grasp where MAGA-esque chuds get by in that environment. When I am out there I feel absolute awe. I dunno where the gross guns and other stuff comes from.

dell (del), Saturday, 10 August 2019 01:44 (one year ago) link

Interesting enough, my family is planning a trip to Williamsburg, VA where he was born. I wonder if there's a local record store around there or something.

Piano Mouth, Saturday, 10 August 2019 01:45 (one year ago) link

Listening to The Arizona Record for the first time in forever and it's inspiring to recognize the leap from, say, "The Wild Palms" to, I dunno, "I Remember Me" or [your favorite song].

j.o.h.n. (john. a resident of chicago.), Saturday, 10 August 2019 04:04 (one year ago) link

The NY Times obit has been updated with some details about his death (and a statement from his father). For those who are interested.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Saturday, 10 August 2019 07:35 (one year ago) link

Despite it coming back in print recently, his collection of poetry is still hard to get at the moment. It’s here:

https://www.poemhunter.com/i/ebooks/pdf/david_berman_2012_3.pdf

“Self-Portrait at 28” is particularly special imo

circa1916, Saturday, 10 August 2019 07:41 (one year ago) link

thanks for that

Clay, Saturday, 10 August 2019 07:43 (one year ago) link

Despite it coming back in print recently, his collection of poetry is still hard to get at the moment.

As these things go, there was a statement on Twitter the other day from a publisher (PGM? PGB?) that there will be a reprint soon.

EvR, Saturday, 10 August 2019 08:27 (one year ago) link

from the updated nyt piece:

A spokeswoman for the city’s medical examiner said that Berman had hanged himself, and ruled it suicide.

je est un autre, l'enfer c'est les autres (alex in mainhattan), Saturday, 10 August 2019 12:00 (one year ago) link

I mean, we had been going under the reports that it was a suicide this whole time, but that still hurts to read. Suicides by hanging are also particularly sad for me.

☮ (peace, man), Saturday, 10 August 2019 12:21 (one year ago) link

somehow i had thought he had overdosed, hanging is indeed somehow a terrible way to go, one part being when the corpse is discovered.

je est un autre, l'enfer c'est les autres (alex in mainhattan), Saturday, 10 August 2019 12:35 (one year ago) link

I have had three friends kill themselves in the past ten years and they all hung themselves.

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Saturday, 10 August 2019 15:16 (one year ago) link

probably common knowledge among berman fans, but i didn't realize that (according to the intro to the PDF posted above) the final silver jews concert on jan 31, 2009, in the cavern, consisted of Berman's "15
favorite Silver Jews songs." here is that set:

We Are Real
Play Video
Trains Across the Sea
Play Video
How to Rent a Room
Play Video
Slow Education
Play Video
K-Hole
Play Video
What Is Not but Could Be If
Play Video
The Wild Kindness
Play Video
Room Games and Diamond Rain
Play Video
Suffering Jukebox
Play Video
I'm Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You
Play Video
Random Rules
Play Video
Tennessee
Play Video
We Could Be Looking for the Same Thing
Play Video
Pretty Eyes
Play Video
Smith & Jones Forever

Karl Malone, Saturday, 10 August 2019 16:00 (one year ago) link

jfc i hate the internet. it copied and pasted a bunch of "play video" links. but you get the idea.

play video

Karl Malone, Saturday, 10 August 2019 16:00 (one year ago) link

This may not be for everyone and I haven't seen it linked, but I think this is very lovely.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/remembering-david-bermans-wild-kindness-869252/

Yerac, Saturday, 10 August 2019 16:04 (one year ago) link

wow Smith & Jones Forever is my favorite SJ song too!! ;_;
whenever my brain is idle i keep thinking about "the wild kindness"

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Saturday, 10 August 2019 16:15 (one year ago) link

grass grows in the icebox
the year ends in the next room

JoeStork, Saturday, 10 August 2019 16:32 (one year ago) link

it may be to dcb’s credit as an enigmatic poet or the fault of my aging brain that for exactly one second I thought “which b side was play video and why did he feel the need to use it as a refrain”

Clay, Saturday, 10 August 2019 17:46 (one year ago) link

video of 6 songs from that Cumberland Caverns show - the last SJ show:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9CD0D43454C6F5DF

You get a few glimpses of William Tyler on guitar, and Bob drums on Trains Across the Sea, then says a few words to the audience. Berman also tells a funny story related to the pipe organ and chandelier in the cave.

alpine static, Saturday, 10 August 2019 17:48 (one year ago) link

the fact that this was - presumably? - filmed for the Bluegrass Underground TV series gives me hope that pro footage of the entire show may someday be released. maybe?

alpine static, Saturday, 10 August 2019 17:53 (one year ago) link

So may I turn a light off and embrace
With resignation, better still with grace,
The dreamless sleep that all awake must face.

meaulnes, Saturday, 10 August 2019 23:41 (one year ago) link

Sleeping, it has been said, is the only love.

del griffith, Sunday, 11 August 2019 01:59 (one year ago) link

Thank god these songs are warm and fun when music gets added to all these lyrics.

... (Eazy), Sunday, 11 August 2019 03:44 (one year ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.