I like EPs. They're always nice quick listens - really good for trying to get a feel for an artist. But the obvious complaint that EPs get is that they are often showcases for one or two really good songs, then a couple tracks of filler, just enough to get a proper release. There are obvious exceptions to the rule but there isn't an artist who releases those exceptions at the rate of Dan Bern. His EPs are mini highlight reels, with song after song after high quality song. Minus one or two minor missteps that we'll discuss here, picking up any of Bern's EPs is sure to reward you with a deep, rich listening experience, inside of a nice compact listening time. For all your feeling needs, on the go!
Dog Boy Van (1997)
Jerusalem is on here. We glossed over it in part 1, but it looms so large in the world of Dan Bern, its inclusion on Dog Boy Van (Released prior to Dan Bern) warrants a little more discussion. It's a beautiful, funny song. It's like the Big Lebowski of songs, rewarding you with something new every time you take it in. I'm sure it's an amazing feeling to have a song that touches so many people, but, Dan Bern fans, I think we should make a pact to stop yelling out requests for it at live shows. In a catalogue of hundreds of songs anyone would be proud to call their own, let us collectively stop asking for the one that the man has undoubtedly played at least two thousand times. *Ahem*
"Hannibal," my second favourite set of Bern lyrics (First belongs to "Fly Away" from Fleeting Days), is thoughtful and vicious. Bern once told me that it's all in the tuning. Some of it might be there in the tuning, but he's hitting the guitar with a very specific kind of righteous violence. I'm desperate to put a sample of the lyrics here but I can't pick a part, so just check the whole thing out. I've heard both "Kurt" and "Live Another Day" countless times and I still feel that lump in my throat every time I hear them. "Oklahoma" is like the great sad movie that you can only watch once or twice. It's the last song and the easiest one to not hear when I put the album on. It's a song of tremendous feeling and power and I skip it every time.Read More