- 08 Aug 19
"His death is fucking dark... depression is crippling," says his friend Stephen Malkmus
The very sad news from America last night is that David Berman, the man who in 1989 founded the Silver Jews with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, has died. He was 52.
Following the Silver Jews' disbanding in 2008, Berman started operating as Purple Mountains and released a self-titled album in July that was awash with fragile beauty.
"We couldn't be more sorry to tell you this," say Drag City Records who broke the terrible news. "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."
His former bandmate Stephen Malkmus writes: "His death is fucking dark... depression is crippling. He was a one of a kinder. The songs he wrote were his main passion, especially at the end."
Bob Nastanovich released a statement saying: "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 humourist and a writer. It was enlightening to have such a talented friend at a young age and realise 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."
Another beautiful tribute comes from The Avalanches who write: "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 humour 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."
"Hurts that David Berman was suffering so much," reflects singer-songwriter Ryley Walker. "He brought me and I’m sure all of you so much joy. Twisted eccentricities of the suburbs were psychedelic cartoons in his lyrics. Sad day. It’s raining in NYC."
Add The Mountain Goats: "I could sit here all day and quote memorable David Berman couplets and never grow tired. He had no competition. He was the competition."
Author Jayson Greene tweets: "Toni Morrison and David Berman is a lot of beauty to lose in one week. RIP. I didn’t comment on Toni because, well, this place scares me more and more lately and I try to stay off it. But Jesus Christ. A lot to mourn."
"Probably the greatest rock and roll lyricist of his generation," proffers Irish promoter Leagues O'Toole. "Making brilliant new music, about to tour, fuck depression.
"If you’re a David Berman man living in Dublin, there’s a grimy framed photo of him just inside the door of Whelan's on Wexford Street, just to the left," he adds. "The Silver Jews played there on May 16th 2008. A beautiful show. Pop in and pay your respects if you’re walking that way."