Dan Bern Biography

Mount Vernon, Iowa, USA. This highly talented US singer-songwriter comes from a family rooted in classical music, with his Lithuanian father a concert pianist and his German mother a singer. The Bern family immigrated to the USA in the late 50s. Dan learned to play the cello as a youngster before being inspired by Bob Dylan to take up the guitar and begin writing his own songs. He relocated to the west coast and began making a name for himself on the local anti-folk scene. His literate, reflective songwriting attracted a cult following, prompting Bern to make his recording debut in 1996 with the self-released Dog Boy Van. This six-track EP introduced Bern’s modus operandi, with songs casting a wry eye over American pop culture and the singer’s own personal foibles. Hyped in the press as the new Bob Dylan, Bern’s high profile meant a major label recording contract was not long in following, with Sony Records’ Work Group imprint landing Bern’s signature. His self-titled long-playing debut was a triumph of the singer-songwriter form, with ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Go To Sleep’ and ‘Marilyn’ among the many highlights. Ani DiFranco produced the follow-up, Fifty Eggs, which included typically skewed paeans to golfer Tiger Woods and tennis player Monica Seles. The same year’s Smartie Mine paid testament to Bern’s prolific output, clocking in at over two hours and including 21 new originals alongside three blues covers, a duet with Martha Wainwright, and new versions of ‘Tiger Woods’ and ‘One Thing Real’ from Fifty Eggs. Bern switched to the Messenger label for 2001’s New American Language, teaming up with Bruce Springsteen producer Chuck Plotkin to create a fuller band sound than on his previous releases. The album closer ‘Thanksgiving Day Parade’ paid direct homage to Dylan’s mid-60s epics ‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’ and ‘Desolation Row’, creating a modern American masterpiece out of a kaleidoscope of images and characters.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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