Silver Jews is probably my favorite band of all time. Of course I love all music and musicians for putting their gorgeous sounds into my ears, but Silver Jews has country vibes, amazing songwriting (by the one and only David Berman) and emotional satisfaction, all of which draw me deeper and deeper into my obsession. I’ve written about them before in an article about “The Natural Bridge”. Berman has now been dead for a little over four years. He struggled with mental health issues throughout his life.
I wanted to write a small article on one song in particular that I have been enjoying a lot recently, “Send in the Clouds”. It comes from the widely acclaimed, “American Waters”, which was released in 1998. Stephen Malkmus of Pavement helped Berman write, produce and create the album.
Both Stephen Malkmus and David Berman sing the opening lyrics to this track in unison. It creates an interesting bonded feeling to this song I would never have expected from just reading the lyrics.
Then, the duo goes on to sing this:
I am the trick my mother played on the world
Seventeen doctors couldn’t decide
whether I should be allowed in the game.
What can’t monsters get along with other monsters?From “Send in the Clouds” by Silver Jews
Soi disantra, soi disantra…
I love the formation “Send in the Clouds” has within its line and as a written, living poem. It has a few tercets followed by a couplet, then another tercet, a quatrain and another couplet. It flows impeccably.
The lyrics themselves are an absolute treat to decipher too. Of course, being David Berman, the words have so many layers of meanings piled atop one another (most of them pretty damn sad).
Initially, the song talks about sending “in the Clouds” filled with rain for a dreary day with a lover in bed. Then we move to questioning the reasons for being born, wondering if the narrator is a curse and monster.
By the chorus, the narrator has decided “soi-desantra”, which is a made up word but close to the French phrase “soi-desant” for “self-proclaimed” according to Merriam-Webster. The narrator claims they are a monster, but are they really? How can we trust their word?
Berman and Malkmus amble on down the road of strange lyrics with this:
I know a puppy who walked from Kentucky.
Made to East Virginia by dawn.
He had seventeen ideas in his head.
Windex tears flow down the robot’s face.From “Send in the Clouds” by Silver Jews
He’s never felt a lover’s embrace.
My momma named me after a king.
I’m gonna bury my name in you.
They explore the isolation of a dog wandering about the East Coast roads just thinkin’. A robot crying by using “Windex tears”. These lyrics are awe inspiring to me because of how much love can be felt through them. It takes so much craftiness to perfect a line of poetry, and Berman and Malkmus do wonders with this track especially.
If you’ve never taken time out of your day to listen to Silver Jews, well lucky you, Fall is one of my favorite listening periods for them. This song in particular is great with a nice cup of coffee and enjoying grey skies.