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David Berman (Silver Jews) is gone...

edited August 11 in Off-topic

Just found out that David Berman of the Silver Jews committed suicide a couple days ago, only weeks after releasing his first album of new music in a decade. It’s all too obvious that he was making the record as a goodbye letter or maybe a cry for help or both. With song titles like “All my happiness is gone” and musings on the infinite forking paths that separate the you that is, from the you could have been, it seems he was in very dark place.

Their resonants particularly strongly with me, as his music was one of the things that kept me going during one of my darkest periods. I had a year of completed nihilism in my twenties, when after breaking up with my girlfriend and fiancée of 6 years, my band proceeded to break up just asc we had started getting the attention of A and R guys (back when there were people who actually went looking for bands, it sounds crazy I know). Convinced I would never find real love again and that I had blown my one chance for success, I was hellbent on drinking myself into an early grave.

It was during this period that I obsessively listened to the Silver Jews album, the Natural Bridge, which I still consider to be one of the pinnacles of modern word craft and a goddamn beautiful collection of songs.

The album starts with the classic line “No I don’t really want to die, I only want to die in your eyes”

and includes such couplets as

“I’m a man who has a wife who has a mother, who married one but she loved another”
“Grant me one last wish, life should mean a lot less than this.”

On paper (or screen as it were), these don’t seem to be much more than clever rhymes, but when coupled with his world weary, effortlessly graceful delivery, the words become infused with this powerful intent that transforms them into something that feels profound, in the way that some famous spiritual texts are, like the the rubaiyat of omar khayyam or the zen koans.

It is the song “The Frontier Index” that always hit me with the that perfect blend of humor and pathos that truly great songs can have, so I will end with those lyrics and a link to the song.

 Of all of the people I knew
I always looked up to you
And after millions of years of
The sun still shines and shines

Look a horse, of course
Gallops through the desert light
I make such good time through sub-space when I dream all day 
and write all night

Robot walks into a bar
Orders a drink, lays down a bill
Bartender says "Hey we don't serve robots,"
And the robot says
 "no, but someday you will."

Prison's a good time for some
Many people get caught with a gun
This trucker says it's good to be 
Says he knows lots of folks who agree

Bumper stickers talk to him
Say let the stars get in your eyes
Time, cum, sand and surf
These are the building 
building blocks of life

Boy wants a car from his dad
Dad says 
"First you got to cut that hair."
Boy says 
"Hey dad, Jesus had long hair,"
And dad says "that's right son,
 Jesus walked everywhere."

When I was younger, I was a cobra, in every case I’d want to be cool 
Now that I’m older, 
and the subspace is colder, 
I just want to say something true 

Goodbye David. Thank you for leaving us with your music. I’m so sorry that you could no longer find happiness in this world.


  • edited August 11

    Believe his first name was David? Truly a great lyricist. Hope he is at peace now.

  • Contrary to cultural taboos, I believe taking one’s own life can be a reasonable choice. Of course the sadness left behind is always felt by those who loved the choosers. Sorry for your loss @Thardus. I am sure Dan (David?) would have liked to have known he helped you during a hard time.

  • Some must die for others to live.

    Nobility in the fearless approach to death is valor in the face of not living.

    I am sorry for his family and friends.

  • Very Husker Mojo Nixon, or Nirvana in its approach.

    I am moved.

  • Thanks for this @Thardus.

  • I am absolutely gutted to hear this news. One of my favourite albums of all time is Bright Flight. Man what a poet he was. Don’t know what else to say...devastating to turn up here to see what’s new & find this out😪

  • It was shocking to hear of his passing. The Purple Mountains album was his first release in ten years, and while the lyrics were darker than ever, I hoped that the fact that he was back making music, coupled with the fact that he had booked a rare tour, meant that perhaps he was doing better. Rest In Peace DCB.

  • Man, the song "nights that won't happen" from his last album is so chilling.

  • Very sad to hear this. I recently discovered his lyrics genius with American Water...

  • @LinearLineman said:
    Contrary to cultural taboos, I believe taking one’s own life can be a reasonable choice.

    No. There’s nothing reasonable about succumbing to sorrow.

  • Blessed are those that mourn, they shall be comforted. (Jesus Christ)

    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Apostle Paul)

    If you can’t find good to rest on, if you can’t find that solid rock on which to build, then you’re not looking hard enough. (Me)

  • @e121 said:

    If you can’t find good to rest on, if you can’t find that solid rock on which to build, then you’re not looking hard enough. (Me)

    Maybe if you post this for a bigger audience or contact the news media we could completely wipe out suicide and mental health disorder by Wednesday!

    Back to the topic- RIP, this guy was a brilliant writer.

  • He was a pure person. Not a easy life.

  • Damn here I am at 2.50 in the morning listening to horse leg swastikas yet again it’s caught me at a bad time....water doesn’t give a damn..

  • I hope with this thread someone new will discover Silver Jews 🖕🏻

  • @barabajagal said:
    I hope with this thread someone new will discover Silver Jews 🖕🏻

    Your wish has come true.

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