R.I.P. Silver Jews

BY Brock ThiessenPublished Jan 23, 2009

After 20 years of sharp-witted rock'n'roll, Silver Jews are apparently no more. Via a message entitled "Silver Jews End - Lead Singer Bids his Well-Wishers Adieu," the long-running band's heart and soul, David Berman, announced on his website's forum late Thursday (January 22) that he's throwing in the Silver Jews towel and "moving over to another category."

In Berman's own words:

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 15 songs. My 15 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 42 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

And if this news wasn't already enough to digest, Berman followed it up a few hours later with second message called "My Father, My Attack Dog," where he told his "gravest secret," one "worse than suicide, worse than crack addition." That secret? Apparently, his father, who he calls everything from an exploiter to human molester to a mother-fucking son of a bitch.

Before we get to that emotional piece of soul-bearing, let it be said that Silver Jews put out six damn good albums in their career, with Starlite Walker and The Natural Bridge standing as two of the finest albums of the entire '90s. Sure, Berman has had his ups and downs but nevertheless, there's no doubt the group will be sorely missed.

Now, without further ado, over to Berman, and stick a big ol' [sic] on all this while you're at it:

Now that the Joos are over I can tell you my gravest secret. Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction: My father. 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. It hurts. There needs to be something more. I'll see what that might be.


Silver Jews "Slow Education"

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