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All His Happiness Is Gone

In 1984 He Was Hospitalized for Approaching Perfection

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by Lee Paul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2019
a founding member of both Pavement and the Silver Jews
by Lee Paul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2019
a founding member of both Pavement and the Silver Jews

David Berman died. 

Much more so than when formerly vaguely-vital, back-catalog legacy rockers go to great acclaim, David Berman's, authentic, wholly exceptional and unmatched indie rock drawl voice remained vital. So knowing, so lovely and so able.

As a founding member of both Pavement and the Silver Jews he was a pre-eminent American wordsmith with an uncanny ability to reach for the exact blend of instruments, notes and chords for gently settling his frenetically laconic, often hilarious and more often painful lyrics into a musical bed of bliss. Those songs insidiously took hold. By the time he reached the latter half of this year's Purple Mountains LP his lyrical grip was truly naked and tight. Each listen really, like a late night conversation with a friend at a party that leaves you questioning how well you know, if not how little you know, about yourself.

The Sliver Jews' American Water LP is rightly regarded as a high tide mark in indie rock. It's an LP, I love too much... "In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection..." (from Random Rules). Oh...

In July (2019), after a long while, out of the blue, Purple Mountains... I've listened to the LP many times, listened to Snow is Falling in Manhattan so often. As ever gorgeous and understated. Just trying to imagine creating, and sharing with the public, She's Making Friends, I'm Turning Stranger, that thought makes my chest tighten with the kind of vertigo induced feeling I get at a cliff edge. It's poignant and hard to hear... And more so given recent events. Although I know that was just a hugely crass thing to say.

There's an NPR piece about David Berman with a great quote about his music... "Before I can think of any other hope I have to hope the music will not bother or disgust other people who are in earshot when it's played. I'm not complaining. Some people like my singing. But it sounds like bad singing to a lot of other people."

There goes David Berman then, one of the greats.
 

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Lee Paul

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