I learned on Facebook the other day that David Berman has died. The record label Drag City discussed it with sadness and admiration. With shock I listened to several of the songs he penned. It is a terrible loss that he is gone.
David Berman, the poet, cartoonist, and singer-songwriter behind Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, has died… “We couldn’t be more sorry to tell you this. David Berman passed away earlier today. A great friend and one of the most inspiring individuals we’ve ever known is gone. Rest easy, David.” Berman was 52 years old.
His lyrics inspire. When I had a trusted young friend in the nineties, I gave her my David Berman, Steve Malkmus & Bob Nastanovich Starlite Walker CD, and she was thrilled. It was a point of pride to have some poetry amid more serious business.
With a lot of talent went terrible sadness. Berman eventually publicly discussed his hatred for his father, which is terrible.
The music remains. It is wonderful, indeed. I hope that fans remember Berman with more than just sadness–you can hear on the early fuzzy Arizona Record how triumphant Berman sounds, and it was years and years ago. In every album he made, it sounds like the work of a great and profound musician, cheeky and moving and fascinating.
I wanted to say this because a loss is a part of life. When a friend from high school years ago, at last, died this spring, my parents and I took flowers to her grave, and I thought how easy it is to dismiss life and death, but mourning needs to be reverent, somehow.
It has been hard on Berman’s fans. I’m sure many bid him farewell. It is a burden to say goodbye, but his music will continue to transfix and bewitch and transcend. Goodbye, David Berman.