Silver Jews songwriter David Berman has died.
The songwriter formed the band in 1989, working alongside future Pavement members Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich.
Releasing their debut album in 1994, David Berman was their sole permanent member, building up a singular, highly influential catalogue.
Silver Jews played their final show in 2009, with David Berman emerging from semi-retirement with this year's Purple Mountains project.
Releasing a self-titled album this year through Drag City, the project was due to commence a full tour this weekend.
Tragically, those dates will not happen. Drag City have confirmed news of David Berman's death:
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. pic.twitter.com/5n5bctcu4j— (@dragcityrecords) August 7, 2019
Tributes poured in, with Stephen Malkmus commenting:
I didn’t know about my friend DCB when I wrote this must have been in the air .His death is fucking dark ..depression is crippling.. he was a one of a kinder the songs he wrote were his main passion esp at the end. Hope death equals peace cuz he could sure use it— Stephen malkmus (@dronecoma) August 8, 2019
Bob Nastanovich added:
I was saddened to hear that David died. Stephen called me to tell me this afternoon.
For most of my life, I was amazed by David as a person, a humorist and a writer. It was enlightening to have such a talented friend at a young age and realize that the talent wasn’t always a blessing.
David battled mental illness for nearly all of his life. He had professional help and the unyielding support of hundreds of good friends. He had many loving and devoted fans.
Please try to cherish your memories of him and his words and music including his last album Purple Mountains.
I know I will and I’m grateful that the list of good memories and stories is long.
The Avalanches revealed that they had recently been in the studio with the American songwriter:
We have no words to describe how we feel this morning to learn of the loss of David Berman. All our love goes out to his family & loved ones, the Drag City family and the musicians who journeyed with him. We were fortunate enough to have David contribute his sublime words to both Wildflower and our upcoming album. What a gift. On a personal level David was always there for me throughout the ups and downs of life and provided much guidance, solace and humor reflecting on our shared struggles. You helped me so much David. His book Actual Air remains a standalone work of rare beauty and a heartbreaking look at the magic inherent in the day-to-day. Farewell David ...you are the light by which we travel into this and that - r
So crushed. I grew up on David Berman and the Silver Jews catalogue in mostly real time... in such a way that his music and lyrics and vocals have touched me to this day and are still growing in significance (and of course a higher high of nostalgia on the side with each revisitation... and there has been so much revisiting these last few years I must say). I was so excited for these upcoming shows and how amazing the new Purple Mountains record is. I was so stoked and so proud of Jarvis and Jeremy and the @woodsist gang for knocking this album outta the park. David's music always hit on a basic human gut level just in the power of his lyrics and voice alone... in a way no other modern artist of my generation has been able to... We were friends but I was looking forward to hopefully becoming closer and was so excited to see him around with purple mountains and hopefully play on “trains across the sea” in philly. Speaking of that tune (and others)... I’ve been singing a few silver jews songs to my daughters at night before they go to bed... since they were little... (it was a no brainer in the dna if my upbringing...) they were always affected by Cassie’s beautiful voice in “Tennessee” and would wanna sing that part... to the extent the first song my oldest daughter Awilda sang from memory (and later we recorded a version of) was "trains across the sea" and she performed "new orleans" at her coop talent show. When my family came thru Nashville David and Cassie took us in graciously and David bought the girls a Mr Games style trinket I guess you might call a diorama music box (?) either way it will be cherished always. Love forever to Cassie and David from Kurt, Suzanne, Awilda and Delphine. “Snow is falling in Manhattan...” “I loved being my mother’s son...” “when god was young... he made the wind and the sun. And since then it’s been a slow education. And you got that one idea again.........” “oh... oh oh... I’m lightening. Oh... oh oh... I’m rain. Oh... oh oh... it’s frightening... I’m not the same. I’m not the same. I’m not the same.” God bless @dragcityrecords for releasing so much (and all) of his material. R.I.P. David Berman. You will be missed.
David Berman’s response to my question about a potential Silver Jews tour, circa 1999 pic.twitter.com/RnGulooEn6— Jake Cvnningham (@JakeNYC) August 8, 2019
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