Silver Jews: Classic or dud

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well, which is it then?

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

there lyrics are grate , there music is grating

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

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

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

whoops, it's actually here:

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

chestnut station, how i love thee!

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

Utter CLASSIC for Natural Bridge and American Water.

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

the best band. ever.

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


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

"Nobody writes lyrics better."

Otto OTM.

Classic, if it needed saying.

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

ok, that's scary.

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

uh oh... hehehe.

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

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

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

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

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

new orleans

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

I am listening to them now.

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

its all about Natural Bridge for me

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

Or none of the above...

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

Read James Tate then imagine the music of Smog.

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

If Pavement were alt country and had better lyrics

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

OK - sounds pretty damn good.

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

he hates berman, right? questionable.

tylerw, Thursday, 11 February 2021 16:34 (two years 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 (two years 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 (two years ago) link


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


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

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

... (Eazy), Saturday, 20 February 2021 14:06 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

Holding up the trousers with extension cords

calstars, Sunday, 11 April 2021 20:45 (two years ago) link

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

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

The doorbell plays a bar of Stephen Foster

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


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

holy fuck

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

what a piece of work.

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

Here's the original story that instagram account stole:

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

seven months pass...

Check out what Lana’s listening to

Unidentified rogue Jedi (morrisp), Sunday, 14 May 2023 14:39 (four months ago) link

seems many of the top recording artists of the day are only now discovering the late, great Silver Jews

Just discovered the band Silver Jews. Fantastic songs! RIP David Berman.

— John Hinckley (@JohnHinckley20) May 4, 2023

James Fennymore Pooper, Sunday, 14 May 2023 18:57 (four months ago) link

Thanks to my gf for putting on a car playlist recently that had a couple Purple Mountains tracks on it. It made me realize that enough time has passed for this record to be fun again <³

The king of the demo (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 16 May 2023 12:31 (four months ago) link

I also revisited it a few weeks ago (for the first time in forever), and – as good as the album is – it felt to me like it’s not “meant” to be listened to as anything other than a tragic document. Just incredibly sad stuff (a few songs in particular)…

Unidentified rogue Jedi (morrisp), Tuesday, 16 May 2023 14:10 (four months ago) link

Night Society is one of the best instrumental tracks ever.
They are also referenced in a song by the band Why?

This Resembles Food, Thursday, 18 May 2023 19:54 (four months ago) link

it is indeed.

did it also have a life as a Pavement jam that never turned into a song? i seem to vaguely recall that ... maybe someone else can confirm.

SJ w/ SM is my favorite SJ, but also DCB was smart to move away from SM when he did.

alpine static, Thursday, 18 May 2023 20:17 (four months ago) link

When was that? SM played on every other SJ album (as in, played on one then skipped the next)…

Unidentified rogue Jedi (morrisp), Thursday, 18 May 2023 20:20 (four months ago) link

(co-wrote at least one song, too)

Unidentified rogue Jedi (morrisp), Thursday, 18 May 2023 20:21 (four months ago) link

Pavement Jews ftw

calstars, Thursday, 18 May 2023 21:58 (four months ago) link

i'm sorry, i have my history wrong, obviously, and my memory has failed me.

i thought they made American Water, then DCB got frustrated w/ the "side talk" stuff and he went and made Natural Bridge w/ other people, and then on from there. i had those two in the wrong order, and i did *not* realize Bob and SM were on Tanglewood Numbers.

my apologies! i believe myself to be a big fan of all involved but blew it here! :) (i'm getting old.)

alpine static, Thursday, 18 May 2023 22:00 (four months ago) link

You are forgiven!!

Unidentified rogue Jedi (morrisp), Thursday, 18 May 2023 22:04 (four months ago) link


alpine static, Thursday, 18 May 2023 22:20 (four months ago) link

I think it's important to remember that Pavement is a Silver Jews spin-off band.

But who are we doing it versus? (sunny successor), Monday, 22 May 2023 14:14 (four months ago) link

isn't it more accurate to say they're both Ectoslavia spinoff bands?

majorairbro, Monday, 22 May 2023 21:06 (four months ago) link

and yet maybe pavement was a sin-off band of the silver jews who were a spin-off band of Ectoslavia who were a spinoff band of Bag O' Bones.

But who are we doing it versus? (sunny successor), Tuesday, 23 May 2023 10:39 (four months ago) link

v. obscure trivia but Spiral was using the name Pavement for a band when he was living in Tempe AZ with 3 other randos, a couple years before Slay Tracks.

so even Pavement is a Pavement-spinoff.

Hi SS!


citation needed (Steve Shasta), Tuesday, 23 May 2023 15:31 (four months ago) link

Steve Shasta = Spiral

that's my theory

alpine static, Tuesday, 23 May 2023 17:12 (four months ago) link

It’s too bad that War Comet never moved beyond the loosely conceptual stage.

The Triumphant Return of Bernard & Stubbs (Raymond Cummings), Tuesday, 23 May 2023 17:33 (four months ago) link

Hey, that's cool, thx (these are Silver Jews songs, tho... so it's basically the Joos with West swapped in for Bob?)

Day 1 fan (morrisp), Tuesday, 23 May 2023 17:56 (four months ago) link

West was a member of the Jews around that time, from the Starlite Walker reissue liners:

"Starlite Walker was an Oxford, Mississippi record. David resided on the outskirts of town at the time. He was renting a tiny building that was part of a professor's chemistry lab in the woods. He paid $100 a month. It was mildly suspicious. Stephen and I went there to rehearse for about five days. Oxford is a beautiful town. There are lots of beautiful people. We were well. Peaking physically. We built songs around David's words. David had just about all of his lyrics written down in a notebook. When we were 70% ready, we headed up to Easley Studios in Memphis (which burned to the ground a few years ago). Doug and Davis were ready for us. They were cool and it was welcoming. Steve West joined us on the songs that we needed a 'real' drummer. I just wasn't good enough. It didn't bother me. I was proud of my drums on "Trains Across The Sea" and my moog on "New Orleans." We didn't have any significant problems recording and it turned out well. Our host Sherman Willmott (we stayed above his record shop in a small apartment) did a marvelous job of keeping barbecue sauce on our faces the whole time. I gained six pounds. Upon completing Starlite Walker, Silver Jews felt like a band instead of a project. We became formidable.

Bob Nastanovich
Des Moines, Iowa

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Tuesday, 23 May 2023 18:04 (four months ago) link

I've never liked "The Walnut Falcon" too much... :/

Day 1 fan (morrisp), Tuesday, 23 May 2023 19:04 (four months ago) link

SS! Missed you! <3 SS

But who are we doing it versus? (sunny successor), Friday, 26 May 2023 00:36 (four months ago) link

My favourite SJ song is Suffering Jukebox

Punster McPunisher, Friday, 26 May 2023 01:34 (four months ago) link

Can anyone ID the final song in that War Comet set? I’ve never heard it before.

Day 1 fan (morrisp), Friday, 26 May 2023 02:02 (four months ago) link

sounds like an improvised jam.

src: someone who listened to a lot of pavement improvised jams around that time.

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Friday, 26 May 2023 02:15 (four months ago) link

two months pass...

was watching this old Harmony Korine/Gaspar Noe documentary and caught off guard by the Berman cameo

Western® with Bacon Flavor, Saturday, 29 July 2023 05:12 (one month ago) link

Bless you, WBF, but you just posted a YouTube video that's 52 minutes long.

I'm going to take your word on the cameo.

pplains, Saturday, 29 July 2023 13:21 (one month ago) link

It's in the first few minutes, although he kind of looks like an alternate universe David Berman.

ヽ(´ー`)┌ (CompuPost), Saturday, 29 July 2023 13:22 (one month ago) link


New No-No Bettencourt (Sufjan Grafton), Saturday, 29 July 2023 13:58 (one month ago) link

Bob Nastanovich is with David there but doesn't get the call out.

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Saturday, 29 July 2023 16:42 (one month ago) link

haha - I didn't even catch Bob there!

Western® with Bacon Flavor, Saturday, 29 July 2023 17:14 (one month ago) link

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