Silver Jews: Classic or dud

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well, which is it then?

fritz, Thursday, 1 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Possibly a bad "classic or dud" band, in that they're neither -- just a reasonably good and interesting project. (I suppose that means "classic," so far as the question goes.)

Nitsuh, Thursday, 1 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

possibly quite right, suh. no need to c or d, just interested in people's thoughts ( esp. on the new one).

fritz, Thursday, 1 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

there lyrics are grate , there music is grating

anthony, Thursday, 1 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I don't mind the music, but the vocals are just embarrassing. It's a rare poet who can do his own works justice.

Tracer Hand, Thursday, 1 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I want to say classic but I can't quite do it. Too many tunes are a bit on the dull side, even when (yes) the lyrics are good. But the two records I have are about 40% EXCELLENT songs, so he's pretty close. I like Silver Jews a lot, just rather hit-or-miss in the melody dept. Excited to hear the new one.

Search: Random Rules, Dallas (the line "How'd you turn a billion steers/ into buildings made of mirrors" is so great -- I always picture the skyline from the opening of the Dallas TV show) How To Rent A Room, Buckinghan Rabbit, Frontier Index, Black and Brown Shoes, Albemarle Station (god, I love that one)...a few others.

I like American Beauty and Workingman's Dead, so I like his music and voice just fine.

Mark, Thursday, 1 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

It just seems like he doesn't give a shit about his singing. Maybe he does, and his voice "sucks" "on purpose" but when the rest of the instrumentation is so basically competent it sounds wrong.

Lyrically he is amazing, I agree. "Last night I dreamed of Jesus" has such a great procession of verses. "trains across the sea" has got every CFO's nightmare: "half hours on earth / what are they worth? / i don't know."

Tracer Hand, Thursday, 1 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Two years ago I'd have said classic, but then, I'm no longer hyper indie and apt to run in terror from music that actually sounds nice. That said, still pretty good.. he does write good lyrics tho' I feel they're a little too.. Americana clever-clever, overwritten maybe. Search "Dallas," "Smith & Jones Forever," .. actually both of the last two albums are quite good all around, w/some great lines: "And so the rent became whiskey / and then my life became risky..."

daria gray, Thursday, 1 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

classic, no doubt - esp american water. as for the voice: as d berman himself sings: "all my favourite singers couldn't sing"

martin h, Saturday, 3 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Mark E S can't really sing either, and sometimes his band is fabulously competent, but the attitude that backs it up is just ferocious. He SELLS it. Dylan sold it. Cash sold it. I don't think Berman sells it. At least not to this customer. It's like he's sort of hoping you're buying but if not, hey, no biggie, come back tomorrow.

Tracer Hand, Saturday, 3 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

i like them better without malkmus. don't really listen to them much no more.

di, Saturday, 3 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I agree with Tracer on the voice but actually I find that kind of understatement charming. To abuse his selling it metaphor - it's the difference between "Can I help you?" and letting you browse. It means they're a band I listen to hardly ever but I'm always charmed and enjoy the experience when I do. Lyrics? They're best when they're moving, but they do clever intelligently, at least.

Tom, Sunday, 4 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

two years pass...
video of the empty bottle performance:

gygax! (gygax!), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 17:53 (eighteen years ago) link

whoops, it's actually here:

gygax! (gygax!), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 17:54 (eighteen years ago) link

chestnut station, how i love thee!

morris pavilion (samjeff), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 18:03 (eighteen years ago) link


True story:

I have 2 friends, room mates at college, one is a the biggest Silver Jews fan in the known universe, one just likes it cause the other one got him into it. The one who just sort of like them and wants to seem indie gets a fake ID to see the David Berman "poetry reading" in Chi-town, which of course turns out to be one of the only Silver Jews concerts ever also featuring Will Oldham and the guy from Smog and long story short he bought a poster for the real fan but still c'mon

David Allen (David Allen), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 18:19 (eighteen years ago) link

Ridiculously Classic. So many beautiful images.

"I love to see a rainbow from a garden hose /
lit up like the blood of a centerfold /
I love the city and the city rain /
suburban kids with biblical names"

Ben Boyer (Ben Boyer), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 18:27 (eighteen years ago) link

The drums march along at the clip of an ivory drip like sparks from a muffler dragged down the strip,
uh huh.

Nobody writes lyrics better.

otto, Tuesday, 30 March 2004 20:11 (eighteen years ago) link

Utter CLASSIC for Natural Bridge and American Water.

scott m (mcd), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 20:32 (eighteen years ago) link

classic, and I am almost sure that Actual Air will always be much better than the Tweedy-man's upcoming poetry volume, sad but true

Donna Brown (Donna Brown), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 23:13 (eighteen years ago) link

the best band. ever.

comic book guy, Friday, 9 April 2004 13:39 (eighteen years ago) link


andrew s (andrew s), Friday, 9 April 2004 14:38 (eighteen years ago) link

"Nobody writes lyrics better."

Otto OTM.

Classic, if it needed saying.

Snnap Dragon (snnap dragon), Friday, 9 April 2004 17:48 (eighteen years ago) link

There are plenty of non-singers who made it big, Dylan,
Lou Reed, Malkmus, etc.

But despite their lack of technical ability, they had charisma
and an infectious sense of rhythm.

I don't hear either in Berman's voice. But that's just me.
They have a few great songs, so I can't in fairness dud them.

Squirrel_Police (Squirrel_Police), Friday, 9 April 2004 18:35 (eighteen years ago) link

and you're supposed to be the people who know about music? a few great songs??? this is a joke! best band ever!

comicbookguy, Saturday, 10 April 2004 20:25 (eighteen years ago) link

silver jews are a classic to me, and thats all that really matters. the natural bridge is a record that literally hasnt left my stereo since 1996.

maria tessa sciarrino (theoreticalgirl), Saturday, 10 April 2004 20:34 (eighteen years ago) link

ok, that's scary.

stockholm cindy (Jody Beth Rosen), Saturday, 10 April 2004 20:35 (eighteen years ago) link

uh oh... hehehe.

gygax! (gygax!), Saturday, 10 April 2004 22:23 (eighteen years ago) link

five months pass...
Starlite Walker is so good in parts.

adam. (nordicskilla), Sunday, 19 September 2004 20:51 (eighteen years ago) link

On the last day of your life, don't forget to die

adam. (nordicskilla), Sunday, 19 September 2004 20:59 (eighteen years ago) link

new orleans

lauren (laurenp), Sunday, 19 September 2004 21:56 (eighteen years ago) link

really amazing lyricist, that silver jews dude...i wonder what darn1e11e thought of him...they seem somewhat similar in some respects....

M@tt He1geson (Matt Helgeson), Sunday, 19 September 2004 23:06 (eighteen years ago) link

i can't believe no one's even mentioned my favorite song - "Pet Politics"

I say classic, all the way, but i didn't buy his last album. Was it good?

roger adultery (roger adultery), Sunday, 19 September 2004 23:41 (eighteen years ago) link

the only song of theirs i really know is tennessee; my friend Austin plays it all the time. i think i should get their records based on the opinions of those i trust.

Ian c=====8 (orion), Monday, 20 September 2004 00:43 (eighteen years ago) link

i love this band like no other. the wild kindness, inside the golden days of missing you,
horseleg swastikas, send in the clouds, buckingham rabbit.
one of the best pure writers of any kind.

plugz, Monday, 20 September 2004 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I am listening to them now.

adam. (nordicskilla), Monday, 20 September 2004 01:04 (eighteen years ago) link

ian, my favorites are starlite walker and american water. if my stuff is ever delivered, i can burn something for you.

lauren (laurenp), Monday, 20 September 2004 01:12 (eighteen years ago) link

'american water' is a classic, one of the best opening lines to an album ever

'in 1984 i was hospitalized for approaching perfection /
slowly screwing my way across europe, they had to make a correction

6335, Monday, 20 September 2004 01:39 (eighteen years ago) link

lauren: my friend joe's got em; it'd probably just be easier for him to burn for me. but thanks for the offer! for some reason they were a band i never got into when i went through my Matador/corny indie phase.

Ian c=====8 (orion), Monday, 20 September 2004 01:45 (eighteen years ago) link

Their last album is close to my favorite actually. He's developed his song writing to still have the same surreal observations, but to fit into a story format.

David Allen (David Allen), Monday, 20 September 2004 02:34 (eighteen years ago) link

its all about Natural Bridge for me

roger adultery (roger adultery), Monday, 20 September 2004 04:29 (eighteen years ago) link

What other artists/bands would you compare the Silver Jews too? I haven't heard them but have been curious. I'm guessing in the territory of neutral milk, mountain goats, microphones. Or is more trad like dylan or cash?

piers (piers), Monday, 20 September 2004 05:03 (eighteen years ago) link

Or none of the above...

piers (piers), Monday, 20 September 2004 05:10 (eighteen years ago) link

Read James Tate then imagine the music of Smog.

David Allen (David Allen), Monday, 20 September 2004 05:14 (eighteen years ago) link

If Pavement were alt country and had better lyrics

roger adultery (roger adultery), Monday, 20 September 2004 05:46 (eighteen years ago) link

OK - sounds pretty damn good.

piers (piers), Monday, 20 September 2004 05:53 (eighteen years ago) link

brilliant, heavy, warm, charming.

1.American Water
2. Natural Bridge
3.Bright Flight
4. Starlite Walker

james, Monday, 20 September 2004 16:44 (eighteen years ago) link

What happened to the reissue that was supposedly coming out on Drag City - the early singles + EPs...? I know it's discussed on another Silver Jews thread somewhere.
I just heard the cover of "Cocksucker Blues" from one of the rare Silver Jews live shows - it was on a Rolling Stones tribute CD that came with an issue of Uncut, and on a 7".... anyway, it's fantastic.

Taxi Dancing in the Soft Prison (Ben Boyer), Monday, 20 September 2004 16:59 (eighteen years ago) link

What happened to the reissue that was supposedly coming out on Drag City - the early singles + EPs...? I know it's discussed on another Silver Jews thread somewhere.

According to gygax, it is still coming out. I hope so, because I Ebayed my copy of The Arizona Record when I was broke and hungry and now I miss it. :(

adam. (nordicskilla), Monday, 20 September 2004 17:01 (eighteen years ago) link

According to gygax, it is still coming out.

when smog was on tour last year, i asked dan k. about it and he said it was coming out. as expose sang many moons ago: "seasons change, people change..."

gygax! (gygax!), Monday, 20 September 2004 17:05 (eighteen years ago) link

appreciate that, rc

dow, Monday, 25 April 2016 22:57 (six years ago) link

My pleasure.

I kinda wish Bob could find a new, raw band to be part of, you know? (Though the other news in that video is that his hearing's pretty bad now.)

Crazy Eddie & Jesus the Kid (Raymond Cummings), Monday, 25 April 2016 23:02 (six years ago) link

one year passes...
wasn't aware of this til now

rip van wanko, Tuesday, 2 May 2017 10:16 (five years ago) link

wasn't aware of this til now
where did you find that???

It's always (sunny successor), Wednesday, 3 May 2017 12:59 (five years ago) link

Ah nice! I've been wanting to see that.

how's life, Wednesday, 3 May 2017 14:34 (five years ago) link

sunny, i searched "david berman" on twitter, hoping to find out what's he's been up to lately (didn't uncover much), and saw this mentioned in a random tweet

rip van wanko, Wednesday, 3 May 2017 20:59 (five years ago) link

I believe he is in Cali writing a screenplay

It's always (sunny successor), Thursday, 4 May 2017 05:43 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

Anyone has seen the documentary about his tour in Israel?

Van Horn Street, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 18:00 (four years ago) link

Yeah it’s on YouTube!

badg, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 18:02 (four years ago) link

badg, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 18:03 (four years ago) link

lol oops it's already there a couple of posts back

Probably where I saw it in the first place

badg, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 18:21 (four years ago) link

I liked Lookout Mountain/Lookout Sea well enough to give it an Hon Mention on my 10th Annual Nashville Scene Poll ballot ("an EP's-worth, anyway," of the good stuff, but that's what I think about most albums I like). Don't know what he thinks now, but on Rolling Country 2008, leading Scene scribe Edd Hurt went from
Meanwhile, the new Silver Jews Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is as lugubrious as before but with a, you have to admit it, real sense of humor and some real interesting textures. The thing is, I could as easily hear these particular words, even "Aloysius, Bluegrass Drummer" done over some improvised drone or big punk chords as well as over the country-whatever he's cobbled together here.
I think I was wrong about Silver Jews' record; the guy or whoever made the thing did some real interesting music, the old Velvet Underground vibe, and I guess Berman actually did try to match words to music and write "country songs," and he strikes me as one of those guys for whom everything be funny and nothing is, you know. Anyway, some cool sounds on Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.

dow, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 21:45 (four years ago) link

re "the old Velvet Underground vibe," I think Edd might agree with me that "Pale Blue Eyes" is a country classick. Here's still hoping for a Willie Nelson & Lee Ann Womack duet---if she declined, LeAnn Rimes 'ud jump on it, I feel sure---c'mon Willie, time's a-wastin'!

dow, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 21:52 (four years ago) link

The SJ song "Honk if You're Lonely" always struck me as kind of a country cousin to VU's "After Hours."

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Tuesday, 12 June 2018 21:57 (four years ago) link

Yeah---somebody told me they thought of the Silos as countryside of the VU too---of course there are obvious Velvets like "Lonesome Cowboy Bill," "Train Comin' Round The Bend," some stuff on the live double-LP Paul Nelson put together from the 1969 Texas shows, like the slow "Sweet Jane" with lyrics that didn't make the Loaded version (and Cowboy Junkies' medicated dream dirge)

dow, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 22:18 (four years ago) link

since her dad, a local barber, had been beaten to death/she had become a vocal martyr in the vegan press

flopson, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 22:47 (four years ago) link

Think this was mentioned on another thread, but there was a bit of news in a recent Malkmus interview:

I heard that there's a new Silver Jews record that's in the works, and that you may have made an appearance on it up in Canada. That is not verified, but we did some demos up there. And there are songs that are good songs, but they have not been laid to tape as I know it. Unless it's happening right now.

Would you go back up to play on it? It's not going to be in Canada if it happens, and I don't know. It depends on what the situation is. If it's really going to happen or not. There's potential. The songs exist. They're awesome. They've been vetted through multiple rewrites, and I think that almost all the lines have been put through Google to make sure no one's said them before in any way, shape, or form. (Laughs)

Oh, Google Purity! I remember that. Yeah, it's happening. It's happening in Silver Jews world. We're filthy that way, it's not going to happen with our record. So I think...I'm hoping. All I can say is I'm hoping. I'm not talking much about it. I've been told to just keep it on the down low, whatever's happening. I know there are songs, and they are good. I've heard them.

Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 23:56 (four years ago) link


i’m still stanning (morrisp), Wednesday, 13 June 2018 00:04 (four years ago) link

The rumor I heard a while back from some random dude on a Facebook group was that he was recording with Dan Bejar, so now that recording in Canada has been confirmed I don't feel quite as bad about spreading it.

cwkiii, Wednesday, 13 June 2018 01:52 (four years ago) link

That’s a very beardy combo.

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Wednesday, 13 June 2018 02:44 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

i don't know if this has been posted anywhere else but this seems to be the main Silver Jews thread:

David Berman, a singer-songwriter who formed the 1990s indie group Silver Jews as well as creating poetry and cartoons, has died, according to music label Drag City. He was 52. Musician Joe Pernice tweeted that he died by suicide.

Bee OK, Thursday, 8 August 2019 00:59 (three years ago) link

FUCK this sucks!


Bee OK, Thursday, 8 August 2019 01:00 (three years ago) link

Purple Mountains

we've been talking about it on the purple mountains thread

Clay, Thursday, 8 August 2019 01:02 (three years ago) link

i don't know Purple Mountains at all, lol. was a HUGE Silver Jews fan however

Bee OK, Thursday, 8 August 2019 01:03 (three years ago) link

anyways carry on...

Bee OK, Thursday, 8 August 2019 01:03 (three years ago) link

it was his new project that just released an album that is well worth checking out for any silver jews fan

Clay, Thursday, 8 August 2019 01:04 (three years ago) link

really like the purple mountains record

Dan S, Thursday, 8 August 2019 01:06 (three years ago) link

six months pass...

People ask people to watch their scotch

They’re playing SJ at the bar !

ncxkd, Sunday, 23 February 2020 22:10 (two years ago) link

Yr third drink will lead you astray

Ticket Tout (morrisp), Sunday, 23 February 2020 22:55 (two years ago) link

Amateur hour over here

ncxkd, Sunday, 23 February 2020 23:01 (two years ago) link

eleven months pass...

A Pavement ad from back when they were called Jivement and sounded like bees

— Matthew Perpetua (@perpetua) February 9, 2021

Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Thursday, 11 February 2021 15:50 (one year ago) link

"Cokehead Quentin Compsons," that's some good stuff.

More Berman ephemera over here:

tylerw, Thursday, 11 February 2021 15:52 (one year ago) link

P3rp3tu@ didn't realize it was DCB until it was explained to him in the comments which is uh... par for the course.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 11 February 2021 16:22 (one year ago) link

he hates berman, right? questionable.

tylerw, Thursday, 11 February 2021 16:34 (one year ago) link

I think so, he just also has some really baffling (trying not to say "wrong") opinions for a guy who has been writing about music for as long as he has.

soaring skrrrtpeggios (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 11 February 2021 16:37 (one year ago) link

singing by: Meg Baird Bill MacKay Cory Hanson Cassie Berman David Pajo David Grubbs Matt Kinsey Haley Fohr Emmett Kelly Todd Rittmann Alasdiar Roberts Matt Sweeney George Xylouris Azita Youssefi Sean O’Hagan Ben Chasny Elisa Ambrogio Bill Callahan

— will oldham (@signifyingwolf) February 19, 2021

Ned Raggett, Friday, 19 February 2021 16:33 (one year ago) link


We’re Up All Night To Get Lochte (Raymond Cummings), Friday, 19 February 2021 22:30 (one year ago) link


stimmy stimmy yah (Simon H.), Friday, 19 February 2021 22:35 (one year ago) link

That’s an intense one to listen to in the middle of winter.

... (Eazy), Saturday, 20 February 2021 14:06 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Holding up the trousers with extension cords

calstars, Sunday, 11 April 2021 20:45 (one year ago) link

The drums March along like an iv drip like a muffler dragged down the strip !!!

calstars, Sunday, 11 April 2021 22:05 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

I saw the river playing in the valley
Rushing round a bend and skipping stones
I saw the meadow wobble In the moonlight
I’ve come to get my girl and take her home

Heez, Saturday, 9 July 2022 02:18 (two months ago) link

The doorbell plays a bar of Stephen Foster

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 9 July 2022 02:41 (two months ago) link

xp That part always gets me.

Am I doomposting? I would say you’re not doomposting enough. (PBKR), Saturday, 9 July 2022 02:41 (two months ago) link

I still try to write lyrics as I’ve done for 20 years now and it’s mostly cause this dude keeps me hungry

Heez, Saturday, 9 July 2022 02:47 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

I had never seen the TV clip in this Instagram post… fairly bizarre

Obviously Five Beliebers (morrisp), Tuesday, 20 September 2022 04:19 (one week ago) link


flopson, Tuesday, 20 September 2022 05:34 (one week ago) link

holy fuck

Western® with Bacon Flavor, Tuesday, 20 September 2022 06:04 (one week ago) link

what a piece of work.

pplains, Tuesday, 20 September 2022 13:23 (one week ago) link

Here's the original story that instagram account stole:

pplains, Thursday, 22 September 2022 11:55 (one week ago) link

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