Purple Mountains (RIP David Berman, August 2019)

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I like the way that WaPo piece dwells on Tanglewood Numbers; I agree that album occupies a special place in the SJ discography.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Sunday, 11 August 2019 22:14 (one year ago) link

Am I the only person whose favourite album is bright flight?

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Sunday, 11 August 2019 22:27 (one year ago) link

No, I am a huge Bright Flight fan. Maybe his most depressing but I love it. The opening of Horseleg Swastikas ("Drunk on a couch in Nashville") might be my favorite Berman moment. Also, I'm a sap, so there is a 50-50 chance I tear up at I Remember You.

Mazzy Tsar (PBKR), Sunday, 11 August 2019 22:50 (one year ago) link

How long has American Water been out of print? I just checked and it seems to be going for crazy money on eBay and doesn't seem to have any sellers (of any format) on discogs at all. How can this be? This album was everywhere!

Paul Ponzi, Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:22 (one year ago) link

I noticed the same with Actual Air back in May -- the '99 Open City/Grove Press printing was going for $55 used online (now $275, though a 2019 reprint also is now out).

... (Eazy), Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:31 (one year ago) link

Bright Flight is my second favorite, about The Natural Bridge.

Lactose Shaolin Wanker (Raymond Cummings), Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:31 (one year ago) link

"after"

Lactose Shaolin Wanker (Raymond Cummings), Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:31 (one year ago) link

lol and to think I bought my paperback copy of Actual Air for $2 in the remaindered section of the campus bookstore in late '09.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:32 (one year ago) link

How long has American Water been out of print? I just checked and it seems to be going for crazy money on eBay and doesn't seem to have any sellers (of any format) on discogs at all. How can this be? This album was everywhere!

― Paul Ponzi, Sunday, August 11, 2019 11:22 PM (twenty-three minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

Not out of print, afaik. Just that everybody bought the entire stock last week.

☮ (peace, man), Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:47 (one year ago) link

Caution to anyone clicking on circa1916's poemhunter link upthread! It's full of poems from a David Berman other than our David Berman.

$2 is a tough price to beat. Free is also good, but you know if they could, they'd sell the Air.

I'm so happy to still have my '99 Open City Actual Air, even though the pages are stiff from being waterlogged in some long-forgotten beverage that spilled on it some night many nights ago. I lent my little hardcover reprint edition out to some girl named Deborah that I hung out with twice in 2003, and now I'm starting to worry I might never get it back.

del griffith, Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:48 (one year ago) link

Deborah F from Manhattan Beach, California: if you're reading this I hope you at least read the book, you scoundrel!

del griffith, Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:52 (one year ago) link

Oh are there bogus poems in that link? My bad.

circa1916, Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:54 (one year ago) link

It's cool. We were warned of impostor Davids. The premonitions never ceased with the guy.

http://mentholmountains.blogspot.com/2019/05/fyi-other-david-bermans.html

del griffith, Sunday, 11 August 2019 23:58 (one year ago) link

cvilleweekly also had some nice memories.

https://www.c-ville.com/words-music-and-wit-indie-rock-icon-david-berman-touched-local-lives/

Yerac, Monday, 12 August 2019 00:03 (one year ago) link

That article is good, though this is an odd remark (at least given the circumstances):

And of that Purple Mountains record, Hlad says, (...) “It’s so personal, and so revealing. It’s like Blood on the Tracks, but a much better record. And I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table and tell him that.”


Like, go ahead... Dylan will probably shrug, raise an eyebrow, and say, “How’d you get in here?”

I guess it is true to the spirit of DCB, in a way; dissing other artists is a thread that runs thru many of his interviews. (The main thing I remember from seeing the Silver Jews the first time was Berman delivering a sneering put-down of Brian Wilson from the stage.) I suppose he “pulled no punches,”or just had some curmudgeonly tendencies (like us all); which isn’t an aspect of his character that’s usually highlighted in these tributes.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Monday, 12 August 2019 00:46 (one year ago) link

Well, at least when he did it, it was funny.

e.g. "NIRVANA: BUSH:: REAGAN: BUSH"

del griffith, Monday, 12 August 2019 00:59 (one year ago) link

Kind of a riff on Steve Earle’s old line “Townes Van Zandt's the best songwriter in the world, and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.”

... (Eazy), Monday, 12 August 2019 01:07 (one year ago) link

Ah, I didn’t know that reference.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Monday, 12 August 2019 01:08 (one year ago) link

no wonder dylan gets so grumpy, look at this shit his coffee table has to deal with

Karl Malone, Monday, 12 August 2019 01:24 (one year ago) link

and i'll stand on bob dylan's coffee table and look him in the eye and say that

Karl Malone, Monday, 12 August 2019 01:24 (one year ago) link

Lookout Mountain is probably my favorite and most listened to, but I feel like Tanglewood & American Water are definitely his twin masterpieces, everything you need to know about him & Silver Jews is in those records.

The night before news of his death broke, I saw a gig by NYC antifolk/cartoonist guy Jeffrey Lewis and bought one of these delightful SilverJewsLand
prints that he was selling, framed & hung it in my kitchen as soon as I got home. Woke up the next morning, saw the news, and thought I cant handle looking at this over morning coffee every day and took it right down. Maybe someday it'll go back up but I dunno when.

I'm envious of people that have been able to listen to the albums since his death, I just dont feel like I'll be able to handle engaging with any of the material for a while.

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Monday, 12 August 2019 01:25 (one year ago) link

many, many xps but the other gothy guy on the right in that old UVA pic is Rob Chamberlain who I met when he was working at Strand Books shortly after he was replaced by Mark Ibold as bassist in Pavement.

He's one of the many obscure members of Pavement that not many people know of, others being early drummers Jeff Doyle, Kelly Hensley & Jason Fawkes (all early drummers).

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 12 August 2019 01:39 (one year ago) link

Wow, I’ve never heard of any of those guys. When were they members — like before Steve & Spiral even recorded with Gary?

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Monday, 12 August 2019 01:45 (one year ago) link

The early Pavement show I saw (at the Uptown bar in Minneapolis) had a drummer both the door and making toast.

... (Eazy), Monday, 12 August 2019 01:47 (one year ago) link

*both working the door

... (Eazy), Monday, 12 August 2019 01:47 (one year ago) link

This is Rob's band, they were great live... much better than this. They were at the time contemporaries of the Silver Jews & Pavement if you could believe that lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WId0rLAItJo

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 12 August 2019 01:51 (one year ago) link

Those other guys were Stockton dudes who drummed on the early stuff (not to say Gary didn't either, but Gary was more of the engineer in the very beginning but sort of became the drummer by default). I think Perfect Sound Forever was the first Pavement record where the lineup was just SM/Spiral/Gary.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 12 August 2019 01:53 (one year ago) link

I remember reading somewhere that Scott had a different band called “Pavement,” and wondered if there was any bleedover.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Monday, 12 August 2019 02:03 (one year ago) link

Yeah, Scott's ASU band was named Pavement briefly (in '87):

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DyXheS4UcAEeGkU?format=jpg&name=4096x4096

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 12 August 2019 03:33 (one year ago) link

2/3rds of The Silver Jews (Hazel Figurine & DCB) at Steve Keene's studio in 1991 circa Dime Map Of The Reef:
https://i.imgur.com/peWdS9I.jpg

In Portland, late 2018 post Bejar-sessions:
https://i.imgur.com/OMwrp2Z.jpg

one of DCB's last short form broadcasts (trigger warning: embedded "indie" tweet):

"Albania..." pic.twitter.com/zGf3msItmi

— purple mountains (@prplmtns) July 27, 2019

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 12 August 2019 04:11 (one year ago) link

This scanned interview from 2003 is really good.

“Out of James Tate and Charles Wright I got to meet grown dignified men who play with fucking words all day. They gave me permission to believe I could try for that in life.”

Back in 2003, as a grad student at @EmersonCollege I got to interview David Berman for Beacon Street Review (now @redividermag). I could not believe someone so talented (Actual Air from @dragcityrecords is actually perfect) would say yes, but he did: https://t.co/MOtQa6EfYo

— Kathleen Rooney (@KathleenMRooney) August 12, 2019

... (Eazy), Monday, 12 August 2019 16:27 (one year ago) link

Re the American Water talk up above, I was surprised by the prices it's going for as well - even the CD copy. I could have swore I had a copy, but I guess I never did upgrade my old cassette. Hopefully Drag City gets more in some day soon. I also never got around to getting Tanglewood either and it's out of stock.

soaring skrrrtpeggios (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 12 August 2019 16:44 (one year ago) link

just dug up a copy of Minus Times from 2003 with a Berman poem called "The Irish Space Program."

Heez, Monday, 12 August 2019 17:29 (one year ago) link

I vaguely remember that one. It was from around the same time as "The High Numbers." https://believermag.com/the-high-numbers/

If you want to post it here, I for one would be much obliged.

del griffith, Monday, 12 August 2019 17:38 (one year ago) link

I'll have to transcribe it later when I'm less busy, but will do. A friend of mine got a story published in the same one.

Heez, Monday, 12 August 2019 17:49 (one year ago) link

David Berman, “The Irish Space Program,” published in the Minus Times. pic.twitter.com/iilqtWUTq9

— William Boyle (@wmboyle4) August 8, 2019

Number None, Monday, 12 August 2019 17:50 (one year ago) link

go raibh maith agat!

del griffith, Monday, 12 August 2019 17:55 (one year ago) link

drag city eulogy up

https://www.dragcity.com/news/2019-08-12-call-me-from-albemarle

global tetrahedron, Monday, 12 August 2019 18:58 (one year ago) link

I stopped by Amoeba earlier; the Silver Jews section was entirely cleaned out (no copies of Purple Mtns, either).

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Monday, 12 August 2019 19:45 (one year ago) link

Snow Falls in Manhattan is just so warm and wonderful, A writer's song. The hopeful heart of the album.

Mazzy Tsar (PBKR), Tuesday, 13 August 2019 00:44 (one year ago) link

xp from the 2003 interview linked above:

”The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is like the “Stairway to Heaven” of twentieth-century poetry.

so this is a knock and not a compliment then ?

budo jeru, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 01:01 (one year ago) link

Just now from Lloyd Cole.

You know the father. You know that haircut. He spent almost 40 years tilting against it, and we can be thankful for the spoils. It clearly wasn't all fun for him. I was a big fan. Recently, I was really happy to find that he enjoyed my stuff, too.

— Lloyd Cole (@Lloyd_Cole) August 13, 2019

DB told me that the time he was in Dallas, which inspired my favourite of his songs, they were listening to Rattlesnakes. Neil and I will figure a way to play Dallas on this upcoming tour.

— Lloyd Cole (@Lloyd_Cole) August 13, 2019

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 01:51 (one year ago) link

Another remembrance, from one of the publishers of Actual Air:

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2019-08-12/david-berman-appreciation-thomas-beller

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Tuesday, 13 August 2019 05:06 (one year ago) link

the setback can be a setup for a comeback line is apparently from a self-help book.

https://www.amazon.com/Setback-Setup-Comeback-Willie-Jolley/dp/0312267738

☮ (peace, man), Tuesday, 13 August 2019 15:36 (one year ago) link

that la times thing is like thomas-beller-appreciation-thomas-beller

adam, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 15:46 (one year ago) link

i'm having such a laugh listening to joos. so many funny moments. the seagulls and horns on 'party barge'. i still can't really stomach purple mountains, but my god, what a swan song.

meaulnes, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 18:09 (one year ago) link

my ex bandmate would sometimes play SJ albums - after picking up bright flight just because he liked the cover art, he became quite the fan. i'd listen casually, though somehow DB mostly flew under my radar all these years. i guess you can't always discover everything. i clicked on this thread last week as ned posted the news, but i didn't scroll to the most recent post -- i only saw the record cover. i thought that it looked like a cool album, and got listening - then read the news. i've been rinsing the catalogue since; reading poetry, his reddit ama, email screenshots, and i already feel so familiar - not to mention inspired. the songs are so effortless, simple, so much fun. he seemed so charismatic for a deep introvert. i hope actual air is reprinted.

meaulnes, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 18:17 (one year ago) link

the setback can be a setup for a comeback line is apparently from a self-help book

Ah, good catch! He at least made it his own by grafting on the "if you don't let up" part, which allows the whole line to pass a google purity test, technically.

This reminds me, sometime around 2002 I was reading "The Wild Palms" by William Faulkner, and I happened upon the phrase "actual air" on page 161.

and now he knew it was not the same deer because he saw three at one time, does or bucks he did not know which since they were all antlerless in May and besides he had never seen one of any land anywhere before except on a Christmas card; and then the rabbit, drowned, dead anyway, already torn open, the bird, the hawk standing upon it - the erected crest, the hard vicious patrician nose, the intolerant omnivorous yellow eye and he kicking at it, lacking it lurching and broadwinged into the actual air.

I emailed David to ask if that's where he borrowed it from, and he said he might've, but if he did it wasn't intentional. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but the fact that The Arizona Record had a song called "The Wild Palms" can probably be introduced as evidence.

del griffith, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 18:41 (one year ago) link

Hey Del G., do you remember what year we saw him give a reading at St. Mary's?

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Tuesday, 13 August 2019 18:55 (one year ago) link

xp I always assumed the title "The Wild Palms" had something to do with the TV series which aired a few months before The Arizona Record came out; but I guess a Faulkner novel seems like a more likely source.

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Tuesday, 13 August 2019 18:56 (one year ago) link


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