Remembering David Berman

Still feeling gut-punched over the passing of David Berman.

Paris Review

From June to January of 2008, I lived Portland, OR, and during that six month span had settled into a lengthy bout of malaise and depression, brought on by cheap beer, terrible eating habits, and poor sleep, as well as nearly 40 hours a week of supervising the closing shift at Blockbuster Video on repeat. Because my car up and died shortly after moving to the Pacific Northwest, I’d ride my bike to and from work, which generally meant a commute home around one o’clock in the morning. On the ride, Berman’s musical vehicle, The Silver Jews, would keep me company in my headphones. I started with the more recent records, then quickly delved into the back catalog. These songs became my soundtrack, and I aspired to write as honestly and profoundly as Berman.

Ultimately, I realized I couldn’t hack it in Portland anymore, and decided to tuck my tail between my legs and scamper back home to California. Before I did, I had the extreme fortune of catching a Silver Jews show (more about this show in a future post…I had a weird exchange with Berman), and I’m thankful I got this opportunity, as Berman called it quits on the band early in 2009. While I was disappointed there wouldn’t be more music from the man and his musical collaborators, I was grateful for the music and live experience I’d gotten.

Time machine forward a decade, and image my surprise and joy to learn Berman had returned to music with his new project, Purple Mountains. I was elated for the new record and the possibility of catching another show.

I’m sad he’s gone. 52 is far too soon. Blessings and love to Berman in his next life. God rest his soul.

“Baby, won’t you take this magnet
Maybe put my picture back on the fridge
I must’ve been crazy to let you get away like you did
Like a brown bird nesting in a Texaco sign
I got a point of view

And the kicker is that
I’m getting back
Into getting back
Into you”

“I’m Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You” from Tanglewood Numbers

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