Some of you may have noticed the announcement in our “coming soon ” section that I would be posting an interview with Silver Jews frontman David Berman. Some of you may have even been eagerly awaiting to read it. Berman prefers to stick exclusively to email interviews because he feels that they give him more time to answer any questions in depth and prevent him from repeating himself. I met with Berman in October after an amazing performance in Seattle and spoke with him about how I had been in contact with Drag City records and would be sending him my questions via email. He expressed interest and told me that he loves to receive interview questions while touring because it is one of his only creative outlets while on the road. Berman is one of my favorite songwriters and I put a lot of care and thought into my interview before sending it out to the contact from Drag City. From there, I waited.
I never got my interview questions back but I’ve received a lot of emails responses that simply state that they, “Haven’t heard back from David, yet” I was concerned that my questions were too intense and that I had been too personal with the angle that I had taken so I sent the following email,
“I was wondering if there has been any headway as far as the David Berman interview questions that I sent out a while back. I’m beginning to worry that my questions have offended him in some way, or that there is an issue with the interview.
Please let me know if you have any information because I was raised by a Jewish mother and I am neurotic.
I got the following response,
“I don’t believe it has anything to do with you. David has been EXTREMELY slow to respond since he’s gotten back from tour. He’s not responded to others as well. I think he is taking a mental break, but I will continue to follow up. ”
That was on October 30th, 2008. David and Silver Jews have a show scheduled for the 31st in which they will be performing in a cave in Tennessee. I felt that it would still be a great time to post the interview and that I should try and follow up with the status at least one more time. To my surprise, before sending my email, I found out that Berman officially dissolved the group today via a message in the Silver Jews forum section of Dragcity.com. He further posted an extremely personal message to his fans about his personal life and his father. I will continue to try and contact David, hopefully with better results. I know that some of my questioning referred to the future status of the group. I guess that we all know the answer to that question now. It is clear that he has been busy with introspection and Drag City is still an amazing label. They have been extremely accommodating and helpful in other ways and continue to represent many other terrific groups. This is clearly a turning point is Berman’s life and, whether the interview ever gets posted or otherwise, I wish him and his wife/bassist, Cassie, the best possible success in their lives and their future endeavors. We also thank him for the tremendous contributions that he has provided to the world of music, literature, and as an individual as a whole. Simply based on the brief interraction that I have with Berman, he was very generous with his time and energy.
Here is exactly what David C. Berman posted last night on the Silver Jews bulletin board:
“Hello, my friend.
Cassie and I went to the cave and it looks great. 58 degrees but the humidity makes it feel like 72.
I’m just going to play fifteen songs. My fifteen favorite ones.
A dollar per song. Plus Arnett Hollow. I don’t
want to keep you underground for too long. Fall Creek Falls State Park State Lodge is great by the way.
Yes I cancelled the South American shows. I’ll have to see the ABC Countries another way.
I guess I am moving over to another category. Screenwriting or Muckraking.
I’ve got to move on. Can’t be like all the careerists doncha know.
I’m forty two and I know what to do.
I’m a writer, see?
Cassie is taking it the hardest. She’s a fan and a player but she sees how happy i am with the decision.
I always said we would stop before we got bad. If I continue to record I might accidentally write the answer song to Shiny Happy People.
What, you thought I was going to hang on to the bitter end like Marybeth Hamilton?
love david ”
Staying true to his openess as an artist and his appreiation for those that supported him, he later posted this additional message within the same thread:
“Now that the Joos are over I can tell you my gravest secret. Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction:
You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons.
My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molestor.
An exploiter. A scoundrel. A world historical motherfucking son of a bitch. (sorry grandma)
You can read about him here.
My life is so wierd. It’s allegorical to the nth. My father went to college at Transylvania University.
You see what I’m saying.
A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company or I would sever our relationship.
He refused. He has just gotten worse. More evil. More powerful. We’ve been “estranged” for over three years.
Even as a child I disliked him. We were opposites. I wanted to read. He wanted to play games.
He is a union buster.
When I got out of college I joined the Teamsters (the guards were union organized at the Whitney).
I went off to hide in art and academia.
I fled through this art portal for twenty years. In the mean time my Dad started a very very bad
company called Berman and Company.
He props up fast food/soda/factory farming/childhood obesity and diabetes/drunk driving/secondhand smoke.
He attacks animal lovers, ecologists, civil action attorneys, scientists, dieticians, doctors, teachers.
His clients include everyone from the makers of Agent Orange to the Tanning Salon Owners of America.
He helped ensure the minimum wage did not move a penny from 1997-2007!
The worst part for me as a writer is what he does with the english language.
Though vicious he is a doltish thinker
and his spurious editorials rely on doublethink and always with the Lashon Hara.
As I studied Judaism over the years, the shame and the shanda,
grew almost too much. my heart was constantly on fire for justice. I could find no relief.
This winter I decided that the SJs were too small of a force to ever come close to
undoing a millionth of all the harm he has caused. To you and everyone you know.
Literally, if you eat food or have a job, he is reaching you.
I’ve always hid this terrible shame from you, the fan. The SJs have always stood autonomous and clear.
Hopefully it won’t contaminate your feelings about the work.
My life has been riddled with Ibsenism. In a way I am the son of a demon come to make good the damage.
Previously I thought, through songs and poems and drawings I could find and build a refuge away from his world.
But there is the matter of Justice.
And i’ll tell you it’s not just a metaphor. The desire for it actually burns.
There needs to be something more. I’ll see what that might be.
if you want to know what evil Herr Attackdog is currently up to look here:
Good luck, sir. And thank you,