Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on May 23rd 2008 12:00PM by Julia Simon
The brand of fun Berman mostly opts for, though, is of the scholarly sort. With album delays driving back the release of 'Lookout,' the ever-erudite singer found himself scrutinizing his lyrics -- and enjoying it. "Each song had intensive rewriting because I was stuck in the studio," Berman tells Spinner. "It was frustrating that the album kept getting pushed back, but it did allow me to bring my songs to their fullest, make them feel more like poetry. I could spend an hour on a word or two, and I loved that kind of work."
If that's not fun enough, check the album's title. "'Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea' is a joke to all the people who've said, 'All your album titles have two words.'" he says. "So I put two clauses together, which was my funny way of breaking the pattern," Berman says with a laugh.
That's just one of many winks behind the album, which Berman packed with enough historical references you'd need an encyclopedia or three to unravel. To wit, the singer concepted the album around the eve of WWI in 1913, the year the world changed forever, and even the cover art depicts an image scribbled that year. The time, Berman explains, "marked the end of incredible optimism for what humans and science could do. Before then there was a faux-heroic Teddy Rooseveltian hubris."
In fact, Berman lifts lyrics for 'Strange Victory, Strange Defeat' directly from a 1913 Roosevelt speech addressed to the Boys' Progressive League, singing, "don't flinch, don't foul and hit the line hard." And with this effort, Berman sees himself not all that unlike Roosevelt rallying the youth of his era a century ago. "People are lulled by the static position of the world right now, wondering what's next, and in my heart I have a pedagogical relationship with those born after 1980," Berman explains. "With the other albums, I was speaking to people my own age. This time, I'm speaking to the latch-key Gen-Xer who is maybe interested in the knowledge I have."
Seems turning history into poetry into music just might be more fun for Berman than drinking that 50,001th beer.