Post Rock Podcast: David Berman of Silver Jews, Part 3


Good thing he already has a cap, because $12 seems steep.

The final installment of the David Berman interview should be especially interesting to devoted fans, as I was able to get his thoughts on each album in his discography. As was the case for the entirety of our conversation, he didn't hold back. Some excerpts are below and in some other exciting news, the first ever D.C. Silver Jews show is a go for September 10 at the Black Cat.

On "The Natural Bridge":
"When I made 'The Natural Bridge' I thought I'd made a terrible mistake. And I pretty much thought that once people heard it, the jig was up. And people weren't going to want to listen to a Silver Jews album that didn't have Malkmus on it ... I had to, out of pride, make a record without him on it."

"I couldn't listen to the record after it was over for a while. And when I did listen to it I wanted to jump out a window. I just didn't think I could let people here those kinds of things. The amount of pain I was in during the recording process."

On "American Water":
"It's very sassy. I was taking a lot of drugs at that time. And there were a lot of drugs in the studio. And all these things that would have horrified indie rock people, that I would never want them to know. I wanted to make a record that wasn't some terrible, big, painful experience. I wanted to make records like other people make records, where you're having fun when you're doing it."

On "American Water" track "Random Rules":
"I used to joke around, 'If I did a Silver Jews greatest hits album, what would the songs be?'" In a way I think I was taking a page out of Steve's book by assuming an attitude - nothing can touch me. 'The Natural Bridge' is me finding out that random rules and I can't handle it. It's too painful that that's the way life is. And then in 'American Water' I'm trying to re-say it again, to someone else, after having accepted it. And now I question later on whether things were random at all. So that's at least three stages."

"A lot of times I wish there were rock critics like there are book critics or art critics. Because I feel like I do a lot of work in the writing and there's no one on the other side that's willing - or maybe they're not looking because it's not there in other people's music - but they're not willing to do the work back."

On "Bright Flight":
"I think that 'Bright Flight' has a disconnect because people that I spent my time with and the people I was writing for were different. The people that I was writing for were for the audience from the last record, an indie rock crowd. But my companions were crooks and prostitutes. All manner of sick, sick, despairing, falling apart lives. And I think that there is a major problem in there because I'm not focused and I reached a point where a lot of my friends that year died, a couple friends. I didn't have any perspective. For instance, the idea of me being alive right now wasn't really feasible. It just wasn't possible to me. At that point I had just lost the plot and I didn't care."

On "Tanglewood Numbers":
"To be quite honest I think it's a record that a man made. Supposedly when you get sober you're the same age you were when you fell in. So maybe it was 1999 to me or something. I felt assertive and I was tired of apologizing for, in my own mind, being a non-musician. Or being not a beautiful singer."

"Talking about drugs and rehab and stuff, nobody wants me to do that. It's not something that I can't not talk about. I honestly feel like you have to talk about it to be a model for somebody else. Because I didn't have any models of artists getting sober and still doing well. I had models like Paul Westerberg."

David Berman Interview, Part 3 - washingtonpost.com - Post Rock

Berman's mention of a speculative Silver Jews greatest hits album obviously got me thinking of what I would include on that album. As someone who has previously ranked every song in the band's discography (I get bored sometimes), it wasn't too difficult. Although my favorites and what I'd include on a greatest hits collection are very different. Anyway, here are the dozen that I chose. Fellow nerds, feel free to come up with your own compilation.

Rebel Jew
How to Rent a Room
Dallas
Pretty Eyes
Random Rules
Blue Arrangements
Slow Education
Tennessee
Punks in the Beerlight
I'm Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You
Suffering Jukebox
Strange Victory, Strange Defeat

By David Malitz |  June 27, 2008; 4:53 PM ET Interviews
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David, that's actually a better greatest hits list than I expected from an American Water devotee, but here's the real greatest hits album in alphabetical order:

Natural Bridge.


Posted by: John M | June 27, 2008 5:42 PM

Hard to disagree with this list. I submit a couple of additional songs for consideration.

--Black and Brown Blues (personal favorite)
--Federal Dust *or* Smith & Jones Forever (pick'em)

Posted by: also | June 30, 2008 12:54 PM

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