David Berman (1967-2019)

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mfunk9786
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David Berman (1967-2019)

#1 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:13 pm

David Berman, lead singer of Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, appears to have committed suicide at 52

EDIT: Above cause of death has now been confirmed by multiple sources. Devastating. That Purple Mountains album is quite grim in subject matter but this is some horrifying outcome to the re-emergence of an important figure in music

Excellent and now chillingly named piece, "David Berman Is Alive and Living in Chicago," from The Ringer less than a month ago

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Saturnome
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Re: Passages

#2 Post by Saturnome » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:22 am

I discovered Silver Jews because of this very forum, I cannot quite recall exactly how but I believe it was a post by Domino Harvey? I also had no idea about the new Purple Mountains album. Damn...

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domino harvey
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Re: Passages

#3 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:18 am

Though my fancy for Berman and his output has waned in recent years, certainly his run of albums through and including Tanglewood Numbers leaves a fine indie music legacy and he was and is clearly still quite beloved by many who came up in the scene. This is shocking but unfortunately also the nth reminder that we may never know a public figure's private struggles

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Re: Passages

#4 Post by denti alligator » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:08 am

Berman has been essential to my life and listening since summer/fall of 1992, when I bought the first Silver Jews EP. I loved the low-fi sound and haunting tunes. The next EP from the next year was even better, And then came the studio albums. Glorious. I still think The Natural Bridge is among the top 3 finest albums of the 1990s. And Starlite Walker and American Water aren't far behind. The new album, despite my reservations about the first single, is a remarkable record. This is tragic news.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Passages

#5 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:13 am

domino harvey wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:18 am
Though my fancy for Berman and his output has waned in recent years, certainly his run of albums through and including Tanglewood Numbers leaves a fine indie music legacy and he was and is clearly still quite beloved by many who came up in the scene. This is shocking but unfortunately also the nth reminder that we may never know a public figure's private struggles
Though listening to the album he put out less than a month ago, it seems quite evident that those struggles were right out on the surface, but sometimes it's tough to tell whether someone is venting and working through issues, or has already made up their mind. Certainly plays like the latter now.

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Re: David Berman (1967-2019)

#6 Post by denti alligator » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:24 am

"The dead know what they're doing when they leave this world behind"

"The end of all wanting is all I've been wanting"

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Re: David Berman (1967-2019)

#7 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:26 am

Yeah, it's a tough listen, but so tuneful, witty, and relatable in stretches that it now feels borderline essential. Certainly hearing and seeing that people in his life were concerned but keeping a close eye on him.

Anyway, I listened to a lot of Silver Jews during the darkest patch of my life but "fandom" always seemed out of reach to me for whatever reason - they're not a band I kept up with or listened to much in the last decade. I haven't even heard their 2008 album. But I can't stop playing this Purple Mountains record.

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Re: David Berman (1967-2019)

#8 Post by denti alligator » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:29 am

I think it's a really great album. Even the mediocre first single sounds great in the sequence of songs. Up there with if not better than even Tanglewood Numbers, but not quite as good as the pre-TN albums.

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Re: David Berman (1967-2019)

#9 Post by bearcuborg » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:20 pm

Very sad, been fan since the 90s.

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Re: David Berman (1967-2019)

#10 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:23 pm


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Re: David Berman (1967-2019)

#11 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:36 pm

Indeed, thank you for sharing it.

Realizing I never shared Drag City's truly touching and goosebump-inducing eulogy here, so:
Drag City wrote:You probably already know this, but on Wednesday morning, David Berman took his own life. He’s gone.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that it is real. Then we’re reminded that is real. Then we wish it wasn’t real. It’s like a trapeze act, and we are the worst acrobats, fumbling these truths from swing to swing. Day after day…

Everybody says these things after a suicide – and this week, we know very specifically why they do. For instance: five minutes ago, we were in tears. Five minutes before that, hope. Before that, rage. And now, nothing.

We hope that everyone who feels the same way, who has thoughts like the kind that led David to this, please stop what you’re doing and take them very seriously. Talk to someone about them. Stay with us. We count ourselves among those on both the speaking and listening ends of these conversations, and these feelings are not foreign to us.

It can be okay. Very likely it WILL be okay. It was okay so many times before.

Call the 1-800-273-8255. That’s the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Here’s a link for resources outside the USA.

But also, in the very likely chance you are reading this on your phone, know that you are very, very likely already in possession of dozens (maybe even hundreds) of suicide prevention hotlines. These are the numbers of your family members, your close friends, and who knows, maybe even casual acquaintances. Whether they are aware of it or not, and whether you are aware of it or not, they are all waiting to hear from you. And possibly to be heard by you. If not, do you really need them in your fucking phone?

We don’t claim to know or understand anyone’s given set of circumstances, at times we don’t understand our own. But in a universal sense we believe that open dialogue may open perspectives and viewpoints and clear a path for emotional change and relief. If there is one thing David taught us, words = hope. And we hang onto his every word, even as he is no longer able to continue the conversation.

So perhaps when you make the call and talk to somebody, for even a few minutes, at the very least there’s a chance the spell will pass. One of the last times we spoke with David, as he was dealing with mundane but harrowing travel logistics, he called in a panic:

(panic) “Car trouble! Not sure what to do!!!”

(gravelly voice) “Did you call a tow truck?”

“Oh my GOD you sound AWFUL! Are you sick?”

“Yes, I have a little flu or something. Did you call AAA?”

(calmer) “Yeah, I called them, they said they’d be here soon.” (laughs) “Jesus, you really sound like shit!”

“So you’re good?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Get some rest!” (laughs)

And he was fine, for quite a while after that. So talk. Or text even! But give yourself the one option that always caused pause and reflection from even a literal genius like David: no-one really knows the outcome of any given situation, so what if it does indeed get better? At the very least, while considering this, the pleasure of the time we have together here may continue on its already too-finite path.

For David however, the struggle is done. His decades-long fight against what he termed “treatment-resistant” depression is over. We can tell you with authority, the problem wasn’t drugs — he had made hard drugs a thing of his past for over a decade. His problem wasn’t debt — he knew his new work and tour looked to settle that. It wasn’t family estrangement — he remained close with his wife, family and friends to the end. He was subject to pervasive, chronic, chemical depression, and fought it daily, as best as he was able.

Now, we miss David incalculably, like a phantom limb we keep willing to help us up. It’s not growing back, we will have to work around this for the rest of our time.

David was a such a brilliant citizen of the world – a contrarian, an anarchist, a cheerleader and a friend. We delighted in sharing space with him. It was a comfort and a strength having traveled the years with him. He always gave us new ways to think about everything. Almost everything we can think has to do with stuff he said or did. His was a continuous flow of phenomenal ideas, both good and bad – and sometimes his most impossible ideas were the best ones. His moods of giddiness and despair, of loud and quiet. His stubbornness, his ungovernable nature – and then, suddenly, an ability to hear and perceive so deeply and compassionately what a person was communicating and feeling, with an empathy we didn’t even know possible. For all his demons, spending time in his company brought more joy and jokes and laughter than was literally imaginable.

David’s brilliant work, his songs, poems and cartoons, were disguised as entertainments. In fact, wherever those works were transmitted they engendered great responses of joy and comfort and a recognition of seismic empathy beyond words. In the long run this will perhaps be the most important part of what we all agreed so long ago that we were doing together.

It feels like there’s little more to say about David’s place in the world right now that he hasn’t already said himself. Some of his incredible turns of phrase seem to have been written for this awful moment. But know that they weren’t. They were written in lieu of this moment, to replace this moment, showing the world (and himself) that maybe he didn’t truly know what was going to happen next.

It’s some relief to think that his suffering is over. But we can’t help but wish he was still with us. Even though we won’t be hearing any more from him, we know in our bones that we’re gonna spend the rest of our lives thinking about these things anyway. It’s a major loss, we see your pain and share it, and support and grieve with all of you, however you see fit.

Our love, thoughts and prayers are with his wife, family and friends at this time. And with you.

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