David Berman narrowly missed my "People We Don't Have to Pay Attention to in 2009" list, despite the fact that Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea was not a patch on anything the man had released beforehand. Not even piss-take "Old New York." Or the adolescent cover of "Cocksucker Blues." Or what was previously considered the Jews' worst album, the drug-addled Bright Flight, which, in addition to being a great album anyway, is a classic compared to last year's efforts. Which to me, were insultingly bad.
Surprisingly, his sessions at Juan's Basement proved the album's songwriting, although somewhat lackluster, still had some redeeming qualities; thus leaving the age-old scapegoat of "the production" to receive the blame. Interviews also displayed Berman's wit to be in tact as ever, and although live shows were reportedly as disappointing as the album, I figured the band would soldier on, with Berman still high on the excitement of gigging out and promoting the Jews just like real bands do. And Judaism. Has anyone seen him breaking down in tears in front of the Western Wall? Undoubtably one of the most surreal things I've ever seen...
How shocking today, then, to find he has unexpectedly broken the band/himself up and revealed his right-wing "son of a bitch" (his words, not mine) father to be the primary cause for the breakup. Describing his life as "Ibsenian" (YIKES!), he seems to have lived his life pitted against his father's efforts to break unions, keep the minimum wage low, and spread lies about organizations for the lower classes.
You just can't make this stuff up! I can't even pass comment on this publicly....Suffice to say it only seems to be part of the melodrama of the Silver Jews that began in 2005, ironically around the time Berman sought public salvation following his equally bizarre suicide attempt! The band might have done better to remain completely enimgatic!
I suppose if you feel like eulogizing the band, put on American Water. Myself, I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to listen to a song by David Berman the same way again. Bye!