Silver Jews – American Water
Drag City, 1998
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2006
This is a perfect record, and needless to say there's good reason why this is regarded as David Berman's masterpiece. Not only is his writing the best it has been or ever will be, but his collaboration with Malkmus works much better than on Starlite Walker. Yes, Malkmus is evident on that record, but here it wouldn't be the same without say, that solo on “The Wild Kindness.” Berman has never been the musician of the bunch, but somehow the music here is fucking astoundingly good. Constantly engaging and rarely, if ever, serves to simply provide a medium for Berman's lyrics. Although, as I mentioned in an earlier post, he could sing this shit over an acoustic guitar and it would still be amazing. But without that delicate lead guitar work in “like like the the death death” it just wouldn't be the same, you know? “All my favorite singers couldn't sing,” he sings in that one. I find it alarming that no one had ever sang that line before, because surely it's something someone had thought of. Or not, I don't know. The lyrics sheet reads like someone's poetry chapbook, except that it's not really lame. They are great, everything every songwriter should aspire to. Something that should be put on a pedestal some day. “Your lyrics are good, but they're not American Water good should be a saying.” This is also one of my ultimate “road albums,” and soundtracks every single road trip I go on. It was huge on the drive to and from California in June 2005, and seemed to be perfect for that trip, especially “Smith & Jones Forever.” There's something distinctly American about this record. Yes, American is in the title but there's more than that. There's the mythical west all over this thing. A sort of lost way of rambling about, anthems for hobos and hitchhikers. Funny enough, this record STILL grows on me every time I listen to it. I learn to appreciate different songs that got overshadowed by obvious jams like “Smith & Jones Forever,” “Random Rules,” “We Are Real,” etc. Lately I've been really loving the album's closer, “The Wild Kindness,” which I think might have the best lyrics on the record. Every line seems great. Actually, I will end this write-up with my Top 5 favorite lines on this record.
5. “When you know how I feel I better/ When you're 15 you want to look poor.”
4. “Build a stage for Autumn's bitch/ They walk the alleys in duct tape shoes/ They see the things they need through the window of a hatchback/ The alleys are the footnotes of the avenues.”
3. “We've been raised on replicas of fake and winding roads/ And day after day up on this beautiful stage/ We've been playing tambourine for minimum wage.”
2. “All my favorite singers couldn't sing.”
1.“Grass grows in the icebox/ The world ends in the next room.”
And because I love fanvids, here's one for "Random Rules."