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David Berman

1967 - 2019
David Berman Obituary
David Berman, age 52 of Nashville, TN, passed away August 7, 2019 in Brooklyn, NY. A profoundly loved and loving husband, son, friend, contrarian, historian, writer, band leader, cheerleader, and occasional anarchist, he navigated the wildly unpredictable terrain of his inner world and our shared planet with fascination, patience, and love. A champion of the underdog and a willful underdog of champions, he fought the good fight wherever he saw fit with bravery, candor, and humor. And won. 

Born January 4, 1967, David was a poet, musician, and visual artist, whose mastery of language shone in every sense--be it written, spoken, or drawn--in his many songs and poems, in texts and emails, in shopping lists and post-it notes, and sharpie-on-old-converse shoes. From unexpected and rushed joyful exclamations on the phone, to wry and painfully funny asides in public forums, to receive his words was to get a tattoo that you never knew you wanted, and instantly wonder how you ever lived without. This was his joy, his drive, his love--the life's work that sustained him to stay in this world as long as he did for us. 

David leaves us with his celebrated book of poetry Actual Air, his vast musical discography as Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, and his beloved cartoon collection The Portable February. With these works, he enlightened us with joy, comfort, and empathy beyond even the magic of his words.

For decades, his work has had a deep and lasting impact on many thousands of people the world over. That impact will continue. His legacy will be carried on by his wife, Cassie, and everyone at his longtime collaborator and foil, Drag City Records. 

He is survived by in-laws Robert and Linda Marrett, Julie and Arnis Ekens, Joseph Marrett, Meaghan and Tommy Gift, nephews Erik and Robert Ekens, and nieces Savannah Ekens and Marrett Jane Gift of Louisville, KY; maternal aunt Carolyn Stucker and cousin Andy Ford of Akron, OH, cousin Anara WhiteBear of Bloomington, IN and their families; his father Richard Berman and family of McLean, VA, sister Carolyn Braun of Naples, FL, paternal aunt Jayne and uncle Jerry Dubin of Chester, NJ, cousin Joanne Schlesinger and her son Joshua of Long Valley, NJ, aunt Patricia Skolnik and family of Denver, CO, and aunt Felicia Brown and family of San Francisco, CA. He was preceded in death by his beloved mother Marilyn "Mimi" (Tissot) Berman, maternal grandparents Robert and Doris Tissot, and paternal grandparents Shep and Anita Berman.

Friends and family, along with the Jewish community, will bury David in Nashville in a private service on Friday, August 16th. We ask his many additional friends and fans to respect the privacy of his family at this time. A public memorial service and anti-showmanship tribute featuring brilliant conversation, passionate speeches, and a tangle of nicotine swans will be held in Nashville at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution to Music Health Alliance and/or MusiCares.
Published in a Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on Aug. 14, 2019
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