Every year more ears come to hear David Berman, author of the Silver Jews songbook, as the most lyrical songwriter of his generation: unrivaled, unbridled, and undone.

In the spring of 2019, Berman returned after a decade-long musical hiatus with a new album from a previously rumored, much-anticipated project he called Purple Mountains, and what feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy: to share some more of himself before taking his own life later that summer at the age of 52.

I could hear Purple Mountains’ abrupt end echoing and reached out to Cyrus Gengras, the band’s guitarist—had they ever made it to the stage—for a better glimpse of the late, great Berman and his musical acolytes, who were alongside the singer-songwriter in his final days, documented here. What follows is based on phone interviews with Cyrus, in addition to other would-be bandmates Cassandra Jenkins and Katie Von Schleicher.

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CREEM #002

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We made a Number 2. Our Winter 2022 edition features Melissa Auf der Maur's secret Smashing Pumpkins diary, Henry Rollins + Joe Rogan, CCR vs. the CIA, the (unfortunate) rise of rockstar CEOs, and more.

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