For many years, Bill Callahan and David Berman were friends and peers. They both came up writing dour, oblique, poetic songs and releasing those songs in early-’90s Drag City Records releases — Callahan with Smog, Berman with the Silver Jews. And while both of their paths diverged over the years, both of them reemerged triumphantly in 2019 — Callahan with his double album Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest, his first new effort in six years, and Berman with his self-titled Purple Mountains album, his own first release since the Silver Jews said goodbye with 2008’s Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. But last month, of course, Berman died at the age of 52. His death has been ruled a suicide.
Last night, Callahan, wrapping up his first US tour in years, played New York’s Webster Hall. During that show, Callahan covered two different Silver Jews songs: “Trains Across The Sea,” from 1994’s Starlite Walker, and “I Remember Me,” from 2001’s Bright Flight. Our own Scott Lapatine was at the show, and he caught video of Callahan opening with “Trains Across The Sea.” Here’s that video:
And here’s the “I Remember Me” cover.