(Pictured left to r): Ramona Sudbeck, Chris Rutledge, David Berman (red hat), Bob Nastanovich (glasses), Cail Knight, Jared McKinney, Dan Marlowe. Photo by Jay Troyan
The importance of art isn’t best expressed in figures or sums, but in the gratification it provides its audience and creator. Six nights ago, David Berman crashed my Silver Jews tribute show and it was one of the great experiences of my life.
This strange turn of events will no doubt fall on deaf ears for some; the Silver Jews are a now-defunct band that formed in 1989. They broke up in 2009 with a grand total of zero hit songs and only a handful of live shows played. For many years, their biggest claim to fame was that two of their members went on to form the rock band Pavement.
But for anyone who has ever listened to a Silver Jews album or read Berman’s critically acclaimed book of poetry, Actual Air, it’s clear that he is one of the great American lyrical masters.
He’s also my personal favorite songwriter; more than Neil Young or Bob Dylan, more than anyone. I’ve shed tears in inappropriate places because I dared to believe I could casually listen to The Natural Bridge. And I’ve pushed my own songs further ever since the day I discovered them, hoping that I, too, could one day create art as inspiring as Berman’s.
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