Tag Archives: dan bern

Too soon, too soon

I don’t know if Marc was at the first Dan Bern show I attended. I don’t think he was at the most recent Dan Bern show I attended. I do know, however, he will not be at the next Dan Bern show I will attend, or any other Dan Bern show whether I attend them or not.

Marc passed away in July. (oh, fuck cancer, by the way).

I don’t remember when I was first aware of Marc. Thinking back, I know he was at the first Birchmere show I attended. I had great front row seats and Marc was behind me, filming the show. I remember ducking out of his way several times during the show.

He was friends with Chris and Winelady — I think I must have known her name at one time, but have since forgotten it — and the last time Dan played at IOTA in Arlington, I know Marc was there because I accidentally left without paying my bar tab and asked him, then Chris and Winelady if they were stuck with it. No one admitted to paying my tab.

Marc was always behind a camera or video recorder. He always wore a baseball hat and a windbreaker kind of coat. He always had a modest smile on his face.

The first time I drove out of my comfort zone (Delaware) to see Dan Bern play, Marc was there to make me feel comfortable.

The second time I drove out of my comfort zone to see Dan Bern play (Baltimore), Marc introduced me to Dan and his girlfriend, Danielle. Dan was in a jovial mood (he was playing Carnegie Hall the next week!) and I got a Dan Bern kiss on the top of my head.

The time I asked Dan Bern to sign my daughter’s autograph book, Marc was there to tease Dan that I wanted my breasts signed instead. (apparently someone asked for that type of autograph during the previous show).

Marc met my husband at one of the last Dan Bern shows I saw and I took Marc’s photo (that I cannot find) at another relatively recent show. We promised to keep in touch, but didn’t. It was through an Internet search that I found his obituary. His death was confirmed by one of Dan’s old band members who knew Marc.

If you happen to follow Dan on Facebook, take a look at this cover album photo. Marc took it.

Dan’s playing in Arlington on Thursday. It won’t be the same without the possibility of Marc showing up.

 

An open apology to Dan Bern

Dear Dan Bern. or Bernstein if you prefer,

Dan Bern Jammin' Java September 2006
You at Jammin' Java September 2006

As you stand on the stage at Jammin’ Java on Thursday night you’ll notice something is not quite right. Something about the crowd is a little off-kilter, but you won’t be able to put your finger on it – won’t be able to figure out what, exactly, is different this time from all the other times you played at Jammin’ Java. Or Iota. Or Birchmere*.

I’ll tell you now, so you’re not distracted on Thursday night. What is different (or what will be different, rather) is the unfortunate fact that I’m not there.

It’s not that I didn’t want to be there – in fact I replied “yes” on your Facebook event. It’s that I can’t be there. See, a friend passed away last week and the memorial service is on Thursday at 7:00 pm. You understand, I know you do.

Dan Bern and Rupert at Iota 2002
You and Rupert at Iota 2002

And before you suggest I go to Friday’s Night Cat show in Easton – not terribly far away from Bethesda, where I live — I cannot do that either. My son, a senior in high school, is a wrestler and has his county wrestling tournament this weekend beginning on Friday. Again, I’m sure you understand why I cannot go to the Friday night performance either.

Good luck on your performances in both Virginia and Maryland this week. May your audiences behave and be appropriately lively and not request “Tiger Woods” too often. May they listen attentively and appreciate your new material as much as they appreciate your older stuff.

Please make plans to return to the area soon. Barring deaths and wrestling tournaments, I’ll be there, I promise.

Love,

Dona aka cedarwaxwing

*That you headlined since 1997. I missed your most recent Birchmere performance when you opened for Todd Snyder. I did see you open for him there once, and while I like Todd Snyder, it is hard to hear you for a few songs and then have to hear someone else for the rest of the evening. I also missed your 930 Club performance even though a member of your band at the time got me VIP passes. My babysitter didn’t show up that time.

Dan Bern – Still the Messiah

Dean and I saw Dan Bern at Jammin’ Java last night. I think its been a year since the last time I saw him. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen him perform, but it is probably somewhere around 30. Last night’s performance was a good solid show — not particularly noteworthy except that he seemed in a good mood the entire performance.

He played lots of his old and recognizable songs including Tiger Woods, Black Tornado, Suzanne, Chelsea Hotel, God Said No, & Jerusalem. He played a couple of songs from Two Feet Tall, his new CD intended for kids: It Vibrates and Hen Party.

He played The 5th Beatles which always makes me laugh. I guess I’ve not heard it enough to remember all the jokes in it. He also played a song I’d not heard before. The first line was “God is a concept by which we measure our own pain”.

I like sitting near appreciative new-to-Dan folks and seeing / hearing their reaction to some of his lyrics — last night we sat near a table of them. They laughed at all the right places: “I’ve got big balls…” “I am the messiah…”

He also played his Christmas song which I’ve embedded below. It might not be safe for work — so play at your own risk.

The icing on the cake last night was running into a friend I’d not seen in years. It felt a little like old times again.

Fiestaware, Ted the Cow, Coke and me

So last night I had a Dan Bern dream. I was watching TV on a big screen television that was attached to the wall. I think I was at my parents’ house, but it wasn’t really my parents’ house. A commercial came on the television and in the middle of the screen was a book with talking line-drawn characters. I recognized them as Ted the Cow-type drawings, but now that I look at the book, what I saw in my dream was not Ted the Cow-type drawings. Anyway, two of the line-drawn characters started to sing a well-known Dan Bern song (don’t know which one it was but my dad said something disparaging about those “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”1 lyrics) and I immediately ran to the store and bought a new shirt.

While the salesperson was ringing up my purchase (an oversized pink, lavender and aqua button-down denim shirt2) she asked what I wanted to drink — it came with the shirt, so I said a Coke. Then she said that the Coke had some strange powder3 in it and was probably contaminated, and showed me the front pocket of the shirt. Sure enough, something fizzy4 and white was floating in the Coke filled pocket of the shirt. She sent for a new shirt, but it was not the same color. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to buy it, but since it came with free Fiestaware, I figured I’d get it and donate the shirt.

On the way out I mentioned that my favorite singer, Dan Bern, liked Fiestaware6, but didn’t expect them to know who Dan Bern was. Turned out they did because he owned the shop.

—–

[1] This really happened once — but I was listening to Beethoven at the time.
[2] I recently found two oversized denim shirts and wasn’t sure if I should keep them or not. They are both blue though.
[3] I mis-read a mis-read comment on a bulletin board and confused Coke (as in Coca Cola) with coke (as in cocaine) and had to re-read it. Weird it would pop up in a dream.
[4] Last night my daughter had fun with suds and the kitchen counter and floor and walls were covered in soap bubbles. Before I went to sleep I worried about who was going to clean it up, since my daughter didn’t seem willing.5
[5] Dean cleaned it up.
[6] I don’t know if Dan Bern even likes Fiestaware — but he does live in New Mexico.

Dan again

Dan Bern made his annual stop in the area last night. This time he played at Jammin’ Java in Vienna — probably my favorite place to see him — it’s intimate and the sound is great. He played a good mix of old and new stuff, and did a lot of chit-chatting in between songs. He seemed in great spirits as well. Pretty much a perfect show.

The audience was attentive and appreciative, if somewhat sparse. I didn’t recognize anyone — either all the folks I knew who used to go to Dan’s shows have moved to other artists or states — or I didn’t look closely enough.

Paul Kuhn played his cellocaster to accompony Dan for all of the songs and 1/3 of the way through the show, Holly Montgomery joined Dan and Paul on stage to sing along with some “oldies”.

Dan mentioned winning a new guitar in an egg-eating contest and claimed to be drinking zrii and vodka. He started singing one of his earlier songs a second time, but caught it before he got too far. He forgot the words to a couple of songs as well.  But he seemed to have a good time.

This is one of my favorites: Walking Through Glass

Here’s one of his most famous: Marilyn


 
My only complaint? No encore. I’m used to him coming back at least once to sing more — but the audience just got up and left when he said “Goodbye and thanks for coming.” Was it because it was a Sunday night and we had work the next day? Was it because the audience felt like it had enough? I can’t figure it out. I don’t blame the band — I blame the audience. I sat and clapped while people got up and left, then I got embarrassed and left too.
 

89. Document everything that you do

As mentioned several posts ago, I first heard about Dan Bern on NPR May 23, 1997. Ten years later I have been to close to 30 of his shows and own countless recordings, both studio and bootleg.

Of his hundreds of songs it is hard to pick a favorite, but I’m pretty sure I like Run Away the best. I like the tune and the words. I may have heard him sing it live once, but it’s possible I never have – and probably never will.

I was going to write him a note and request it at the last show – after all it was close to our ten year anniversary. But He wouldn’t have played it, I’m sure of that – he played more of a Dan Bern greatest hits kind of show.

Without further ado, here’s Run Away. If you’d rather see & hear him play it, YouTube has a version (uploaded by fellow Dan Bern fan, Luther) – but the sounds of the guitar are too loud for my ears in that version.

He said document everything that you do

Mark it so your children will know it too
But it’s harder, when you’ve outstayed your welcome
It’s hard to do

One time Johnny tried LSD
Had a great revelation, but he
Found he couldn’t put it into words
So he started drawing pictures of birds
With ten eyes
Men with 50 arms

I wanna run run away run away run away (3x)
From here

In the afternoon my Dad would draw the blinds
Sleep till I woke him up with my mind
I was only 3 or 4 years old
I lost that power long ago

Ridin’ through the rain on a motor bike
Babe Ruth lookin at a called third strike
Charles Manson working at the fair
Lettin all the little kids pull his hair

I wanna run run away run away run away (3x)
From here

Let me go and I will tell you stories all my life
If you don’t catch up I’ll make it up to you in the next life, I promise you

I live on the margin, I live on the side
Don’t sit with the bride groom, or the bride
I sit with the engineer
Who takes me fishing on the edge of the pier

I’ve come to believe we made up time
Like we made up rhythm and made up rhyme
But it don’t bug me, it’s OK
Livin in endless Saturday

I wanna run run away run away run away (3x)
From here….

Wild Wednesday

Ok,  it wasn’t so wild. I spent most of the day working, but didn’t get a lot accomplished.

Went to a Dan Bern concert last night – well it was actually a Todd Snider concert with a Dan Bern opening act. It was ok. About what I expected. I assumed Dan would open for Todd.

I’d wanted to see Todd live for a couple of years – he is funny, but it’s not the same as the old days of Dan Bern shows –  where he used to tell long funny stories in between his songs. For some reason he stopped those stories – perhaps because he wanted to be considered a serious musician? Maybe he just evolved.

So the show was fine, I sat alone at first, then some Todd fans sat with me. I saw no one I knew from the old Dan Bern show days – except maybe Tom who had a birthday back at the Ram’s head Tavern and Dan sang happy birthday to him, but I didn’t see his girlfriend Kathy (?).

I got lost (as usual) coming home, even though I had Millicent, my trusty Garmin streetpilot, guiding my way. She told me the right things to do, but I was too overwhelmed by the speeding cars to pay her any heed.  She got me out of the labrynth of National Airport though. I didn’t even know those roads existed!