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Animal Collective's Avey Tare and Geologist honor the late David Berman with charity cover

Photo: David Berman (Shawn Ehlers/Getty Images); Avey Tare (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Earlier this month, we lost one of the music world’s most indelible songwriters in David Berman, the Silver Jews frontman who just this year released an acclaimed new album as Purple Mountains. Now, when many fans had planned on catching Berman’s new band on tour, they’ve taken instead to mourning with his vast output on the stereo. That was certainly the case for Animal Collective’s Avey Tare and Geologist, at least, who just dropped a cover of Silver Jews’ haunting “Ballad Of Revered War Character.”


A standout track from Silver Jews’ second studio album, 1996's The Natural Bridge, it gets under the skin with evocative, morbid lyrics like, “John Parker the III steps over a bird, on a Wall Street window ledge/ Little Wilkie, dead cat rotting, deep inside the hedge.”

“A few weeks ago we planned on seeing Purple Mountains together,” Avey Tare and Geologist wrote in a statement on Bandcamp. “Instead we spent the night listening to David’s records and talking about how much his music and art meant to us. He was an inspiration for decades. One we wouldn’t be here without. We’ve been playing covers of his music since 1994 when we first picked up guitars together, so it felt like one of the few things we could do to get through the sadness. The next day we worked on this cover of ‘Ballad of Reverend War Character.’”

The single costs $1, and the pair note that all proceeds will benefit MusiCares and the Music Health Alliance. Download it over at Bandcamp and revisit the original below.

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Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.