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 (eleven 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 upbut this kind of hurting won't heal.The end of all wanting is all I've been wantingand 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 (eleven months ago) link
been feeling the comforting intention of Snow is Falling in Manhattan
― triple-washed (Sufjan Grafton), Friday, 9 August 2019 22:22 (eleven months ago) link
different kind of sadness but this reminded me of another dead canadian genius
― american bradass (BradNelson), Friday, 9 August 2019 22:28 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months ago) link
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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months ago) link
excellent posts from fgti
― budo jeru, Friday, 9 August 2019 22:55 (eleven months ago) link
“Diamonds in the Mine” feels in some ways like the ur-text for Purple Mountains.
― ... (Eazy), Friday, 9 August 2019 23:44 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months ago) link
the double del of heat
this song never needed that pre-chorus anyway
― del griffith, Saturday, 10 August 2019 00:37 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months ago) link
thanks for that
― Clay, Saturday, 10 August 2019 07:43 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months 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 "15favorite Silver Jews songs." here is that set:
We Are RealPlay VideoTrains Across the SeaPlay VideoHow to Rent a RoomPlay VideoSlow EducationPlay VideoK-HolePlay VideoWhat Is Not but Could Be IfPlay VideoThe Wild KindnessPlay VideoRoom Games and Diamond RainPlay VideoSuffering JukeboxPlay VideoI'm Getting Back Into Getting Back Into YouPlay VideoRandom RulesPlay VideoTennesseePlay VideoWe Could Be Looking for the Same ThingPlay VideoPretty EyesPlay VideoSmith & Jones Forever
― Karl Malone, Saturday, 10 August 2019 16:00 (eleven months ago) link
jfc i hate the internet. it copied and pasted a bunch of "play video" links. but you get the idea.
This may not be for everyone and I haven't seen it linked, but I think this is very lovely.
― Yerac, Saturday, 10 August 2019 16:04 (eleven months 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 (eleven months ago) link
grass grows in the iceboxthe year ends in the next room
― JoeStork, Saturday, 10 August 2019 16:32 (eleven months 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 (eleven months ago) link
video of 6 songs from that Cumberland Caverns show - the last SJ show:
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 (eleven months 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 (eleven months ago) link
So may I turn a light off and embraceWith resignation, better still with grace,The dreamless sleep that all awake must face.
― meaulnes, Saturday, 10 August 2019 23:41 (eleven months ago) link
Sleeping, it has been said, is the only love.
― del griffith, Sunday, 11 August 2019 01:59 (eleven months 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 (eleven months ago) link
Would be oppressively dark without it, yeah.Since the song was released, have found myself idly singing the chorus to “all my happiness is gone” under my breath while just doing stuff around the house. Only half the time aware of how absurd that is.
― circa1916, Sunday, 11 August 2019 04:33 (eleven months ago) link
Me too :/
― 60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Sunday, 11 August 2019 04:57 (eleven months ago) link
it's an insanely catchy song. i know it's a direct rip of a new wave song i can't remember the title of right now, too, but as with all DB songs, the lyrics lift it completely beyond that
― Karl Malone, Sunday, 11 August 2019 05:04 (eleven months ago) link
I Melt with You, but only kinda
― circa1916, Sunday, 11 August 2019 05:20 (eleven months ago) link
― flappy bird, Sunday, 11 August 2019 05:24 (eleven months ago) link
I sang the chorus of darkness and cold while pushing my 1 year old on the swing today.
― triple-washed (Sufjan Grafton), Sunday, 11 August 2019 06:03 (eleven months ago) link
and I sang it entirely bc it is stuck in my head
― triple-washed (Sufjan Grafton), Sunday, 11 August 2019 06:05 (eleven months ago) link