way down low

A couple of weeks ago a crane appeared a few blocks from my apartment and began looming over the surrounding buildings. “Suffering Jukebox,” the third track off of Silver Jews‘ recent album Lookout Mountain Lookout Sea, came to mind, since I’ve been spinning the record a lot and David Berman’s opening words are “Cranes on the downtown skyline / Is a sight to see for some.”

While the song picks up a more straightforward lyrical tilt once the chorus hits (“Suffering jukebox, such a sad machine”), its beginning stretches out a broader setting. Berman’s initial glance at the urban horizon lifts later lines like “Money lights your world up / You’re trapped what can you do” and “You make the same old jokes / And malaprops on cue” from barroom corner metaphors to scenic, culture commentary that drifts overhead like animal-shaped clouds.

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