Inspired by recent, polarizing Silver Jews vs. Smog thread - name your favorite David Berman lyrics / one-liners here!

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"I want to wander through the night /
as a figure in the distance, even to my own eye"

that's one of my favorite lyrics, ever.

Roger Fidelity (Roger Fidelity), Saturday, 6 November 2004 18:56 (fifteen years ago) link

god just about all of natural bridge is my favourite lyrics ever.

The Lady Ms Lurex (lucylurex), Saturday, 6 November 2004 19:10 (fifteen years ago) link

In 1984, I was hospitalized for approaching perfection.

jed_ (jed), Saturday, 6 November 2004 19:19 (fifteen years ago) link

but my problem with them is that they are so often just that: one liners.

jed_ (jed), Saturday, 6 November 2004 19:30 (fifteen years ago) link

I've posted Berman one-liners before, but never mind doing again:

"I saw BB King on General Hospital/in the Cleveland dramhouse where we stayed"

"When the governor dies, the state bird falls from his branch"

"Oh Dallas you shine with an evil light (2x)/How'd you turn a billion steers into buildings made of mirrors/and why am I drawn to you tonight?"

"My ski-vest has buttons like convenience store mirrors and they help me see/that everything in the room right now is a part of me"

"I didn't really wanna die, I only wanted to die in your eyes/grant me one last wish/life should mean a lot less than this"

I'm quoting from memory, so I can't remember it all, but the one about "that tan-line on your ring finger"

"My mother named me after a king/I'm gonna bury my name in you"

Hurting (Hurting), Saturday, 6 November 2004 22:00 (fifteen years ago) link

As far as Smog, I always liked "The morning paper is on it's way/It's all bad news, on every page"

Hurting (Hurting), Saturday, 6 November 2004 22:03 (fifteen years ago) link

line from poem about "reggae leaking from his walkman"

smog: "i'm going to be drunk/ so drunk/ at your wedding"

duke streggae, Saturday, 6 November 2004 22:05 (fifteen years ago) link

You mean this one?
So if you don't want me I promise not to linger
But before you go I gotta ask you dear
About that tan line on your ring finger

Some that come to mind
The drums march along at the clip of an ivory drip like sparks from a muffler dragged down the strip, uh huh
When the sun sets on the ghetto all the broken stuff gets cold
You can't change the feeling but you can change the feelings about the feeling in a second or two, uh uh huh
Blue birds lodged in an evergreen altar--I'm gonna shine out in the wild kindness

He writes really good lyrics.

steve hise, Saturday, 6 November 2004 22:06 (fifteen years ago) link

Couple more Berman lines:

"When God was young, he made the wind and the sun/But since then, it's been a slow education"

"He was a rebel jew, he was a rebel jew, and he died for you, and your sins/he was a rebel jew, he was a rebel jew, let him in"

Hurting (Hurting), Saturday, 6 November 2004 22:08 (fifteen years ago) link

"You never know
when your pet will go"

I prefer the more strangely poignant, simple ones like that. It's like, Yeah, man, that's totally true! Fuck.

Roger Fidelity (Roger Fidelity), Saturday, 6 November 2004 22:16 (fifteen years ago) link

I love those too, but it's often in the delivery -- from the same song "When the rain hits you/it hits you slow/stitch after stitch/stitch after stitch etc."

Hurting (Hurting), Saturday, 6 November 2004 22:18 (fifteen years ago) link

"but my problem with them is that they are so often just that: one liners."

I don't agree with this about Berman. I always feel like there's something more to them than just being clever nonsense -- at very least it's clever nonsense that always gives the impression of approaching meaning, of some sort of weight. This is what separates him for me from other *indie* songwriters that do silly lyrics.

Hurting (Hurting), Saturday, 6 November 2004 22:25 (fifteen years ago) link

"And I wanna be like water if I can / Cuz water doesn't give a damn"

mattp, Saturday, 6 November 2004 23:22 (fifteen years ago) link

Listening to the very underrated Bright Flight right now as I clean teh room

"I could tell you things about this wallpaper /
that you'd never ever wanna know"

Roger Fidelity (Roger Fidelity), Saturday, 6 November 2004 23:26 (fifteen years ago) link

From the same song:

I wish they didn't put mirrors behind the bar
cuz I can't stand to look at my face
when I don't know where you are

What if life is just some hard equation
on a chalkboard in a science class for ghosts

mcd (mcd), Saturday, 6 November 2004 23:31 (fifteen years ago) link

Chalk lines around my body/like the shoreline of a lake.

mcd (mcd), Saturday, 6 November 2004 23:32 (fifteen years ago) link

I asked a painter why the roads are colored black
he said "Steve, it's because people leave
and no highway can bring them back"

time cum sand and surf
these are the building
building blocks
of life

I know you laughed
when I left
but you really only hurt yourself

Now there's a lot of things that I'm gonna miss
like thunder down country and the way water drips

If cars could run on teardrops
I'd be long long gone

When I was summoned to the phone
I know in my bones that you had died alone

the things that you do will always make your mama cry

Smog doesn't really have a lot of one-liners, his songs work much better as coherent (compared to Berman, anyway) narratives, although lines like "I was a teenage smog/sewn to the sky" and "my father said to me/but you can't swim/and I never dreamed/of the sea again" have brought me to tears based on the power of the image alone.

D.J. Anderson, Sunday, 7 November 2004 10:41 (fifteen years ago) link

Why can't monsters
get along with other monsters?

57 7th (calstars), Sunday, 7 November 2004 13:18 (fifteen years ago) link

My favorite Smog one liner was "Whenever I get dressed up/I feel like an ex-con trying to make good."

My favorite Berman lines are all in Self Portrait At 28 in Actual Air.

David Allen (David Allen), Sunday, 7 November 2004 15:48 (fifteen years ago) link

"An anchor lets you see the river move"

Mark (MarkR), Sunday, 7 November 2004 23:15 (fifteen years ago) link

Silver Jews always mention rain & mirrors & robots.

Raw Patrick (Raw Patrick), Sunday, 7 November 2004 23:26 (fifteen years ago) link

i consider myself a pretty big fan, but have never read Actual Air. Worth getting, I assume?

Roger Fidelity (Roger Fidelity), Monday, 8 November 2004 00:01 (fifteen years ago) link

it's like walking into an art gallery where before you had been merely looking at the album covers.

f ath, Monday, 8 November 2004 00:07 (fifteen years ago) link

I saw him read last week, it was very very good. I don't own it, but I've read a lot of Actual Air, and it's very very good.

Best one-liner live:
He had just read a longer piece with a lot of sexualized imagery, though not succinctly "about" anything so concrete, when, in the same breath he drawn to read the last line of the poem he says "That one was about a handjob."

That was very very good.

Sonny, Ah!!1 (Sonny A.), Monday, 8 November 2004 01:42 (fifteen years ago) link

In 27 years I've drunk fifty thousand beers & they just wash against me like the sea into a pier

maracas (maracas), Monday, 8 November 2004 16:36 (fifteen years ago) link

"He bought a little land with the money from the settlement
And even bought the truck that hit him that day."

"Tanning beds explode with rich women inside."

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Monday, 8 November 2004 18:52 (fifteen years ago) link

I think I have this somewhat wrong, but this is the essence:

Robot walks into a bar / Orders a drink, lays down a bill / Man says I'm sorry we don't serve robots / The robot says, "Oh, but someday you will"

southern lights (southern lights), Monday, 8 November 2004 18:56 (fifteen years ago) link

three years pass...

Bumping this thread for "souvenirs only reminded you of buying them" from Governors on Sominex in Actual Air

Kath, Friday, 9 May 2008 09:32 (eleven years ago) link

Yeah, that's a killer line. When is that new album out again?
I hope he does another book.

Savannah Smiles, Friday, 9 May 2008 09:40 (eleven years ago) link

About a month I think. It's one of the best things of 08 IMO and there are some pearlers on it

DJ Mencap, Friday, 9 May 2008 09:57 (eleven years ago) link

"I throw my thoughts like tomahawks into this world which I disown" is such a badass line.

circa1916, Friday, 9 May 2008 18:28 (eleven years ago) link

^^^ yes. also loves when he says "what looks like sleep is really hot pursuit" in that one

mizzell, Friday, 9 May 2008 18:30 (eleven years ago) link

I love all of Aloysius, Bluegrass Drummer especially

Aloysius woke at 5 am and the hungry girl was gone
There was blood on the bedding, forks in the ceiling and bones all over the lawn

mizzell, Friday, 9 May 2008 18:33 (eleven years ago) link

new album sux

iiiijjjj, Saturday, 10 May 2008 01:00 (eleven years ago) link

You're crazy

If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Saturday, 10 May 2008 05:54 (eleven years ago) link

you probably like Band of Horses

If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Saturday, 10 May 2008 05:54 (eleven years ago) link

two weeks pass...

anyone have anything to say about the new jews record? i had lost all faith after tanglewood numbers, which i found for the most part crushingly dull and oddly charmless, but having heard the jukebox one several times on the radio i'm ready for berman's rumours. am i about to be disappointed?

cw, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 12:18 (eleven years ago) link

That's kind of how i felt about tanglewood numbers, but haven't heard the new one

Hurting 2, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 12:46 (eleven years ago) link

i think the new one is quite good. but i need some more listens for a valid verdict. just heard a couple of the songs at the concert and heard the album maybe twice.

alex in mainhattan, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 13:03 (eleven years ago) link

eight years pass...

DB is on the new avalanches album!

calstars, Wednesday, 6 July 2016 23:30 (three years ago) link

is it cowboy eclipse ? that's a beautiful poem. 'it gets late so early, now'

schlump, Wednesday, 6 July 2016 23:34 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

IDK why I woke up with "San Francisco B.C." stuck in my head today. I go back and forth on the rest of Lookout Mountain, but that song certainly deserves a spot in the canon (... the canon of what, though? not for me to decide)

So many evocative turns of phrase: dollhouse lightning, fist cuisine, sarcastic hair, a jeweler's hands and a blurry face.

Best of all, there are moments on the record when Dave is so clearly having FUN... just like the crooks in the movies when they do that bit.

bernard snowy, Sunday, 21 January 2018 14:01 (two years ago) link

he said the power of metal will never be harnessed
I thought the wages of metal should be heavily garnished

that's not bad. but it's still the only Silver Jews song that's a They Might Be Giants song

del griffith, Sunday, 21 January 2018 16:43 (two years ago) link

When they turn on the chair something’s added to the air

Mule, Sunday, 21 January 2018 19:25 (two years ago) link


calstars, Sunday, 21 January 2018 19:50 (two years ago) link

What’s “swa disantra “ anyway? Anyone know?

calstars, Sunday, 21 January 2018 19:51 (two years ago) link

"soi-disant roi"... pretty sure it's a call-back to the title of REM's "World Leader Pretend".

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 22 January 2018 01:41 (two years ago) link

Oh, neat. Thanks Al

calstars, Monday, 22 January 2018 01:53 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

How long can a world go on under such a subtle God?
How long can a world go on with no word from God?

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 8 August 2019 14:32 (six months ago) link

Life finds a limit at the edge of our bodies

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 8 August 2019 14:35 (six months ago) link

day after day up on this beautiful stage
we've been playing tambourine for minimum wage

del griffith, Thursday, 8 August 2019 15:59 (six months ago) link

But nothing can change the fact that we used to share a bed

flappy bird, Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:09 (six months ago) link

Still wearin' last night's mascara
Now that her pet was gone for sure
She was shiverin' so hard
It looked like there were two of her

☮ (peace, man), Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:13 (six months ago) link

moments can be monuments to you
If your life is interesting and true
It's just the same for a man or a girl
The meaning of the world lies outside the world

jakey mo collier (voodoo chili), Thursday, 8 August 2019 17:38 (six months ago) link

the alleys are the footnotes of the avenues

J. Sam, Friday, 9 August 2019 13:26 (six months ago) link

holding up their trousers with extension cords

jakey mo collier (voodoo chili), Friday, 9 August 2019 14:11 (six months ago) link

I suspect we could be losing now. Please guard my bed.

Mule, Friday, 9 August 2019 14:17 (six months ago) link

instead of time there will be lateness
and let forever be delayed

J. Sam, Friday, 9 August 2019 16:46 (six months ago) link

I had this friend his name was Marc with a "c"
His sister was like the heat coming off the back of an old TV

60... 90... 120 Minute IPA (morrisp), Friday, 9 August 2019 19:47 (six months ago) link


dell (del), Friday, 9 August 2019 19:48 (six months ago) link

this happy hour has got us by the balls

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 12 August 2019 19:33 (six months ago) link

Songs build little rooms in time
And housed within the song’s design
Is the ghost the host has left behind
To greet and sweep the guest inside
Stoke the fire and sing his lines

tylerw, Monday, 12 August 2019 19:34 (six months ago) link

his brother who was missing the part of the brain that let's you make out with your pillow

chr1sb3singer, Monday, 12 August 2019 19:45 (six months ago) link

I passed an abandoned drive-in
With ivy growing over the screen
It was like I caught Hollywood sleeping-
Asleep without the dreams

Heez, Monday, 12 August 2019 19:55 (six months ago) link

if your dreams are your body telling you it's confused
then I've got a dream I think you could use

del griffith, Monday, 12 August 2019 19:59 (six months ago) link

All this new technology
will eventually give us new feelings
that will never completely displace the old ones
leaving everyone feeling quite nervous
and split in two.

chr1sb3singer, Monday, 12 August 2019 20:04 (six months ago) link

no one should have two lives
now you know my middle names are wrong and right
honey we've got two lives to give tonight

del griffith, Monday, 12 August 2019 20:08 (six months ago) link

When you feel that first ice cold twist in the wind
Will you hang a lamp at the end of the lane?

☮ (peace, man), Monday, 12 August 2019 22:54 (six months ago) link

Holding hands, starlit walks
Making plans, silly talk
All I see are couples in the street
I always had a hunch
I would crumble in the crunch
Yeah, maybe I'm the only one for me

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 12 August 2019 22:58 (six months ago) link

^That one was co-written with Dan Auerbach, so I'm not sure how much of it was him and how much of it was DCB. A great song regardless!

Auld Drink of Misery (zchyrs), Tuesday, 13 August 2019 16:03 (six months ago) link

it was from an aborted attempt at auerbach to produce the record, he must have contributed enough to the chord progression or arrangement to get a credit, but if auerbach could write lyrics like that i'd imagine he'd have done it at least once before in his life

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 13 August 2019 16:08 (six months ago) link

hahah fair enough, I'm actually pretty unfamiliar with his stuff, never been a Black Keys fan, etc.

Auld Drink of Misery (zchyrs), Tuesday, 13 August 2019 16:14 (six months ago) link

We’re off to the land of club soda unbridled
We’re off to the land of hot middle-aged women

J. Sam, Wednesday, 14 August 2019 13:24 (six months ago) link

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