Empty Country – “David”

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Empty Country – “David”


This fall, former Cymbals Eat Guitars leader Joseph D’Agostino is coming back with the second album from his new project Cymbals Eat Guitars. Empty Country II is fully immersed in the sound of ancestral American indie rock, and D’Agostino recorded it at R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter’s studio in North Carolina. We’ve already posted the singles “Pearl” and “Erlking,” and now we’ve got a new one.

“David” is a tangled, wordy song with sad and poetic lyrics, and we know exactly who the David of the title is. It’s David Berman, the late Silver Jews/Purple Mountains leader, who was a friend and mentor of D’Agostino. Here’s what D’Agostino says about it:

This is a song for my late friend and mentor David Berman. It takes inspiration from W.S. Merwin’s short poem, “Elegy.”

Who would I show it to

I used to send Dave everything I wrote. Whether he praised the work or was critical of it, his responses were always generous and insightful, and invariably drove me to write more. He treated me as a peer. We both suffered from severe clinical depression, so we’d talk about that a lot, too. Sometimes I’d get an email that was just a subject line. “Where are you in the struggle?”

For a long while after he passed, I kept sending songs, poems, and lyrics to his email. Eventually, the mailer-daemon started bouncing them back.

Hanging above my writing desk is a blown-up glossy print of a blurry phone pic from the night Dave and I met back in 2015. In it, I am smiling deliriously. My hero, dressed all in black, has just emerged from the liquid shadows lapping at the edges of the empty parking lot. He seems in no particular hurry, content to linger a while and chat with a stranger before continuing on his way through the night. Seeing that I’m loading guitar amps into the back of an Econoline van, he asks, “Is the music through?”

Not yet.

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