David Berman, the ingenious poet, songwriter, and performer behind the bands Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, died on Wednesday, at fifty-two. His music and lyrics are so indelible—so beloved, like old friends—that his devotees carry them around with us, as part of the way we experience the world. He had a gift for articulating profound loneliness in ways that felt deeply familiar, which in turn made you feel less alone. Berman grew up in Virginia, Ohio, and Texas, the son of a lawyer and a homemaker-teacher, who divorced when he was seven. Later, he went to grad school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In early , he announced that he was disbanding Silver Jews and retreating from music, to focus, in part, on exposing the sinister misdeeds of his father, who had become an influential lobbyist working on behalf of several up-to-no-good industries. Just before his retreat, signs about his well-being seemed promising.
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David Berman of Silver Jews Remembered
Specifically, I was thinking about a song on the album he released less than a month ago, his first recording with members of the Brooklyn band Woods under the moniker Purple Mountains. It is also very catchy. Before last month Berman had been famously off the scene for a decade, having disbanded his much beloved Silver Jews in while simultaneously revealing that his father was the notorious lobbyist Richard Berman. He was the kind of artist certain young people with literary pretensions fall hard for early: an actual poet, for starters, who worked in the borderlands of wry wit, bumper sticker phraseology, and the profound; a peerless observer of character and detail; a college buddy and collaborator of the Pavement guys; an addict. But there was a head-on aspect to them that was something new for Berman too. It was a processing record, I thought. The first song he reportedly wrote for the record, a tribute to his mother after her death, is so direct it is almost hard to listen to. But there did seem to be some last-gasp sense of hope in the whole endeavor to me. I need to take a few risks. On Wednesday, in the immediate wake of his death, the grieving tended to point back to our most dog-eared and thumbed-through Berman artifacts: American Water or his lone poetry collection, Actual Air.
David Berman, the indie-rock singer-songwriter behind Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, has died at the age of David Berman, the singer-songwriter best known for leading the long-running, critically acclaimed indie band Silver Jews, died Wednesday at the age of Rest easy, David. While the group contained a perpetually rotating cast of musicians, Berman remained at the center throughout their entire run. If I continue to record I might accidentally write the answer song to [R. Related: 98 Best Songs of Close down his company or I would sever our relationship. He refused.
The musician David Berman, who has died suddenly aged 52, was the leader and sole constant member of Silver Jews, a band whose poetic, experimental recordings during the s and s embodied American indie rock at its most literate, and of Purple Mountains, his recent Americana project. Their first EPs, Dime Map of the Reef and The Arizona Record , introducred their extremely lo-fi tracks — apparently recorded on a Walkman — that ensured a degree of cult status, if few possibilities for radio play. Starlite Walker , their debut album, was a more polished effort that saw country rock leanings meshing with experimental sounds.