November 28, 2011

I never have a naughty thought
because of all the stuff I bought

Bridget Tichenor, Autorretrato (Self Portrait), undated

* More still, from David Malitz's March 2008 interview of David Berman:

Malitz: That’s a conversation I’ve been having with friends recently. Music is pure escapism now. We don’t want to think of anything bad. Like we were saying before, a lot of the music doesn’t communicate anything but it’s still very uplifting and pretty.

Berman: It’s almost like if all the bands were the Cocteau Twins. And the Cocteau Twins, I used to think it was neat because I’d say, “This is cool because someone can sing without words here. But you still get a feeling.” And a lot of times you hear people say, “Well I don’t care about lyrics anyway!” And I understand what they’re saying. That you’ve liked songs in the past that have stupid lyrics and it didn’t matter to you. But it doesn’t follow from that that it’s OK for all of your music to have stupid lyrics. You want your music to communicate to you but you also want it to communicate to you in such a way that it can communicate to people after you. And what’s really clear to me is that a lot of choral, harmonic bands -- there just won’t be any reason for anyone to listen to them in the future. There will be new bands that do that same thing. There will always be bands making pretty sounds. There will always be bands making pretty instrumental music. And the pretty instrumental music of yesterday -- nothing’s so short-lived as a career like Tortoise. There will be people who always listen to Tortoise because they’re amazing musicians. But there won’t be as many as there would if Tortoise gave us one thing to hang onto. One idea, one thing to say to yourself when you just need one thing to think. One thing that’s great about rock music is sloganeering. It can be beautiful propaganda. Sometimes I say to my friends who are having trouble writing a song, “You’ve got to give them one thing. You’ve got to give them an image, an idea, something.” And I think that there just aren’t that many songwriters … why go out on a limb and say anything when not saying anything is really rewarded? You’re only gonna scotch it. I feel like that the reaction to the music now will probably take the form of … well, I’m not going to say that.

Malitz: OK, let’s talk about the new album then. What’s it going to sound like? The previous albums -- I know you’ve said that you think “Bright Flight” isn’t as unique as the rest, but it’s a grower though -- but what’s the sound on this one? The last one -- and I don’t know if you’ll like the comparison -- but it reminded me of mid-’70s Dylan.

Berman: Well let me compare it to the last one. I think the big change here is … I don’t know how to say it any other way than it’s just better than any of the other records. I’ve heard people say that a lot and they were wrong. Namely R.E.M. every single time they put out an album. But I really think this is the best one on every level. And it certainly is on a lyrical level and it’s certainly the most cohesive. And I think it’s an inspiring record. I think it’s ultimately a positive record. I think what you’ll find is the first side is rather dark and the second side is rather light. There’s a progression. The band is really great.
Malitz: I remember reading a review in Option magazine that said something like, it almost sounds like they’re trying to be lo-fi and out of tune. And that’s what made me buy the record. But not too many of those songs made the cut for the tour … how do you look back on that record? I guess it’s the most indie rock record in the discography.

Berman: I was surprised that we were able to make a record. I guess I was really pleased just that it existed. When I made “The Natural Bridge” after that, I thought I made a terrible mistake. I pretty much thought that once people heard it, the jig was up. That people weren’t going to want to listen to a Silver Jews album that didn’t have Malkmus on it. And it’s funny, you know, it’s not the biggest selling Silver Jews record or anything, but when it came out, people in England were really, really into it. Not at home. And so I kept going. Basically, I couldn’t listen to the record after it was over for a while and when I did listen to it I basically wanted to jump out of a window. I just didn’t think I could let people hear those kind of things. The amount of pain I was in during the recording process. It’s not even about the songs themselves. It was such a -- it messed with my head so much. The whole 8 or 9 days I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep. And I wasn’t taking anything. I was in a real state. And I was falling apart. In the middle of the sesions I actually had to go a hospital and tell them to put me to sleep. They gave me a prescription for Ativan. And I went to a hotel and I slept for two days and let everyone keep working. And I came back. And it was OK. There’s always a point in the making of the record where I want to quit. There’s always that point. And now the only difference is that I need to keep going because it’s … for me, I feel I’m positive that if people think I’m still writing well right now then I can just keep going forever. Because I have so many ideas on the level of what I have now, in store, that I feel good about … I would never, ever have to worry about writer’s block.

* The United States, Mapped According to Dominance in Pizza, Guns or Strip Clubs.

* "My father said, 'When in doubt, castle.'" -- Kurt Vonnegut


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Kurt Vonnegut

Coincidence, Just picked up "Look at the Birdie" from the library on Saturday. Have read a few of the short stories.

Good stuff/Recommend.

-- Allan Smithee

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Serge said...

Music is definitely used to convey a message towards its listeners and this is one of the reasons why business owners tend to use this for their customers to promote brand recall.

5:00 AM  

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