First Aid Kit paid tribute to the late David Berman with a gut-wrenching cover of Silver Jews’ “Random Rules.” The Swedish folk duo also released an original song “Strange Beauty” in honor of Berman, who died by suicide at the age of 52 earlier this month.
Singer Klara Söderberg takes the lead on “Random Rules,” gently laying her vocals down over aching guitar. “So if you don’t want me I promise not to linger/But before I go I gotta ask you dear about the tan line on your ring finger.” Her sister Johanna harmonizes with her on the chorus, giving the track a somber feel. The sisters further pay tribute to the indie singer-songwriter with “Strange Beauty,” which they wrote while processing their grief. “David died yesterday,” Klara sings. “Today it’s raining/I know I didn’t know you/But in my heart I know it to be true.”
“I think a lot of people were as shocked as I was upon hearing the news of David Berman’s passing,” Klara said in a statement. “It didn’t seem real. It left me completely devastated. So I wrote the song ‘Strange Beauty’ to try to make sense of my feelings. ‘Random Rules’ is a long time Berman favorite of ours and a song we always thought we would record if we ever made a cover album. It holds some of the greatest lyrics ever penned and shows the genius of David Berman. We hope the songs can be some kind of comfort.”
Shortly before his death, Berman and his new band Purple Mountains released their self-titled debut — his first new music in eleven years. “I found it difficult this year to gear myself up to listen to the Purple Mountains record because I didn’t know if I was ready to re-engage with him emotionally,” Rob Sheffield wrote in his tribute to Berman. “It was weird this year to start thinking of him in the present and even the future. Now it’s weird to think of him as heading back into the past already. It’s too late, and it’s too soon.”
Popular on Rolling Stone
Listen to “Strange Beauty” below: