5 Questions With Rags #1: Dan Bern

I listen to a lot of music. I like big beats and lo-fi guitars and large, piercing horn sections, etc. I like all of these things and others, in a seemingly endless series of combinations. I also like to call myself a “writer.” Now, that is more than debatable but I’m certainly drawn to lyrics and words in songs. Few people consistently scratch my lyrical itch like Dan Bern. For almost 15 years, Dan Bern’s words have meant as much to me as anyone I’ve ever known or met or listened to in any capacity. His ability to touch what I believe is the must human part of me is unparalleled. (Interviewing him remains one of the highlights of my writing “career.”)

Not only am I proud to say that Bern is the first entry into this new (hopefully ongoing) series, Five Questions With Blake, I am overjoyed to say that Bern himself actually helped CONCEIVE this idea in the dark of Hermann’s Jazz Club in my hometown of Victoria, BC, after his show on October 3. The questions come from myself and four other fans that I spent the evening with, including my good friend and screenwriting guy Ben Rollo. In future I'm hoping to include not just musicians, but people from all walks of life and disciplines who might have some interesting things to say. But for now we start where everything seems to start for me, music. So, without further ado, I give you the first of this simple little thing that I hope is going be around a little while.

(Note: This was conceived and executed in the most impromptu of manners. I did not have a recording device of any kind, just a notepad and pen culled from other members of the group. I pieced this back together from hastily and terribly written notes.)

The Answerer: Dan Bern. Writer, singer, guitar player, dad, tennis pro, painter, generally awesome and thoughtful guy.

The Answerer: Dan Bern. Writer, singer, guitar player, dad, tennis pro, painter, generally awesome and thoughtful guy.

1. What movie was most influential in shaping your life philosophy?

Oh man, there were so many movies that for a period of time were my Bible of How To Be. But I’m going to say, my first as an adult, was Stranger Than Paradise. That movie informed a lot of how I look everything in the world. And I was madly in love with Eszter Balint (Eva) for a time

2. What is your shoe size?

13. But it used to be 12. My dad in Lithuania used to get shoes from his family’s factory, but they were always the leftover shoes they couldn’t sell. They never fit properly and neither did mine. Finally I realized that my feet probably shouldn’t always hurt. Fuck.

3. What are you thoughts on immortality if you think have any?

I think about immortality all the time. What if there was a small strain of humans that evolved to be actually blessed with the gift to survive longer than the rest, a few here and there that just morphed into something else? Like, maybe if you could just get past 102, you could live to a couple thousand years old. Outliers. Of course, there’d be moments and times of great pain. But you would learn. You would check your emotions.

4. If you had to choose between sight and sound which one would you keep?

 Sight. I’m at a point in my life when I really just want to live among humans and do normal things like a ride a bike or just hang out with my daughter. For sure I’d miss the aural component, but I’ve done a lot with it up to now. If I was 85 though and you asked me this, I’d probably just go the other way. I’d keep my ears and just breathe and listen.

5. If the Earth was being destroyed and you could only keep one piece of culture from the planet, what would you save?

 Well, I’d probably need a tennis racket and a ball. But…hmmm…I could replicate that wherever I went. I withdraw that answer. <long silence> I’d probably take something like a bleacher seat from Wrigley Field. I mean, of course I could make a chair, but that’s like a thing that actually has some kind of meaning.

Get all kinds of Dan Bern music at his bandcamp page.

Go to www.danbern.com for all things Bern and to get on his sweet mailing list!