Across the internet, over the past week, tributes have poured in from friends, collaborators, and even people who barely knew him. There was something about the way he looked at the world and grappled with its darkness that made people from all walks of life feel less alone. It makes sense that Marc Maron—who plumbs the dark parts of human experience on his podcast WTF—would feel some sort of kinship with Berman, and today, on this weeks episode, he shared his own appreciation of the Silver Jews songwriters art and life.
Maron opens the show admitting that hes out of sorts because hes been thinking a lot about the death of Berman, who he calls an "amazing creative mind." He says he didnt know Berman very well, but he shares his memories of meeting him in Nashville while he was in town for a standup show. Maron says hed reached out to him to be on WTF, but Berman declined, saying instead that hed rather just talk. They sat and talked about his "struggle" that he had with his father Richard, who Maron describes as a "public relations executive and lobby for the worst of things." Maron says he immediately felt "the weight of this dudes heart."
Maron explains that hed recently emailed Berman, letting him know that the door was always open to come on WTF. He reads Bermans response, which seems both tentative and hopeful about his reemergence into the world with his new record as Purple Mountains.
"Marc, I would be happy to do your show after a little more time has passed," Berman wrote. "Say this winter or spring, when Ive had more time to reflect on what its been like to jump back in the pool after 11 years sequestered inside. Ill give you better material and be a more charismatic guest no doubt when Ive had time to make these necessary psychic adjustments. I dont want to show myself while Im still in the process of making them."
Throughout his memories, Maron reflects on the nature of making art from that place, of being so burdened by darkness and making work that both reflects and overcomes it. "Its hard man," Maron says. "Its hard if youre sensitive, if youre teetering or prone to depression or unstable in those ways in your mind. And sadly much of that disposition lends itself to a type of creativity that has to resolve existence in that darkness. You need to express yourself in order to get through it."
Thats the biggest part of what makes Bermans loss so hard to take. No one seemed better equipped to draw the maps of those hard places than him.
You can listen to Marons tribute over at the WTF site at the 8:20 mark of this weeks episode.