Silver Jews & Expat Blues

Bob Dylan wrote:

Well, I try my best.

To be just like I am.

But everybody wants you.

To be just like them.

No sooner does the expat successfully exit society and leave home, than she finds herself, like a pledge at rush, confronting an endless array of social membership possibilities tailor-made for people who don’t quite fit in yet. There’s nothing that better defines you as a (former) group member than leaving the group.

Like Dylan, a lot of David Berman’s (ie, Silver Jews) songs involve specific places somewhere in the South — but often you have to guess where.  Here’s an example — “Blue Arrangements”  from the CD American Water:

I see you gracefully swimming with the country club women
in the Greenwood southside society pool.
I love your amethyst eyes and your protestant thighs
you’re a shimmering socialite jewel.

Likely as not these lyrics are autobiographical. Here’s the link to Silver Jews’ David Berman and his dirty dad.

From the Carbon Dioxide Riding Academy
to the children’s crusade marching through the downtown.
Well I think I’d die see, if you just said hi to me.
When something breaks it makes a beautiful sound.

Sometimes I feel like I’m watching the world
and the world isn’t watching me back.
But when I see you, I know I’m in it too.
The waves come in and the waves go back.
The kids in the corner all covered in dirt.
Caught trespassing under the moon.
My father came in from wherever he’d been
and kicked my shit all over the room.

The room is dark and heavy with what I want to say.
I see murals in the radio static and on your blue jeans.
What would you say if I asked you to run away?
It’s been done so many times I hardly know what it means.

I took these blue arrangements and threw them in the sea
when older waves from older caves brought them back to me.
I took these blue arrangements and stored them on a shelf.
With change on the mantle and time in a candle,
in the end a boy raises himself.


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