So I got out of bed this morning and had a look at twitter and saw that David Berman had died yesterday. It hit me like a slap in the face.
Here’s a few things about him and his bands The Silver Jews and Purple Mountains.
- He wore a good baseball hat. Always important.
- I came across The Silver Jews 10 or so years ago downloading random albums from a web site that had these things too easily available. Without knowing why I had three of the albums on my laptop and then on my iPod. Random songs would come up and then there were times on a long car journey I would put the three albums on shuffle so I never knew what was coming next. There were songs about lovelost jukeboxes, punks in the moonlight, animals making shapes in the snow, a one armed drummer, sad victories and defeat, beer and a pier. The songs were funny and sad. Rickety and wry.
- Listen to enough music there is an intimacy about it, the songs and the voice. I know some of these voices better than those of people I see every day. David Berman’s was one of those voices.
- By the time I started listening to them The Silver Jews had split up and David Berman had stopped making music.
- There was/is something lost and mysterious about the records.
- Last year one of their albums, American Water, was re-released on vinyl. I was in Probe every week for a month asking if they could sell me the only copy they had. The release date kept getting put back and they kept having to say no. All for The Silver Jews. It was worth the wait.
- Earlier this year I was in Rough Trade on Brick Lane and too my surprise they had another three of their albums on vinyl, presumably left over from when they first came out 15 years or so ago. Soon I had the lot .
- I chose one of the albums, Tanglewood Numbers, for the music group to listen to. The cover has a photograph by Terry Eagleton. Only good records have these (see Big Star).
- Then a month or so ago there was talk of a new band, Purple Mountains, and new album. It came out in early July. It is very good one of the years best. Sad songs about love and loss and margaritas drank in a mall. You should buy it.
Rest easy now.