Tanglewood Numbers

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Tanglewood Numbers
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 18, 2005
GenreIndie rock
LabelDrag City
ProducerDavid Berman
Silver Jews chronology
Bright Flight
Tanglewood Numbers
Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

Tanglewood Numbers is the fifth studio album by Silver Jews, released in 2005.

Like on all of their other albums, Silver Jews' principal song writer and constant band member is David Berman. On this album fourteen other musicians are involved in the performance and creation. Tanglewood Numbers marked the return of Pavement members Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich into Silver Jews. Malkmus had last appeared on American Water while Nastanovich had last appeared on the band's debut album Starlite Walker. Cassie Berman, David Berman's then wife, also appears, as does Will Oldham.[1]

The album's cover is a photograph by famed Southern photographer William Eggleston.[2]


In the four years between Bright Flight and Tanglewood Numbers, Silver Jews frontman David Berman had suffered from substance abuse, depression and a suicide attempt.[3] However, Berman was able to rehabilitate and he became more deeply involved into his Jewish faith.[4]

During its recording, Tanglewood Numbers was nearly destroyed in a fire that burned down Memphis' historic Easley-McCain studio, where the album was going to be mastered.[5]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Stylus MagazineB[10]
The Village VoiceB+[11]

Tanglewood Numbers has received mostly positive reviews. According to Metacritic, the album has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 32 critics reviews, indicating "Universal acclaim."[6]

Giving the album a 4.5 out of 5 stars, Heather Phares of Allmusic, in references to Berman's past problem, wrote "Hopefully the circumstances around Tanglewood Numbers will never repeat themselves, but there's no denying that this is a uniquely powerful and moving set of songs."[3] Popmatters' Josh Berquist also gave the album a positive review, writing "Even if it’s not their finest work, it certainly feels like it is. There is a visceral vitality to Tanglewood Numbers that has never inhabited any album prior."[8]

In a more mixed review, Dusted Reviews' Nathan Hogan criticized Berman's less prominent vocals, writing "...Berman’s a brilliant lyricist with 30 or 40 minutes to spare every couple of years, and his voice seems oddly absent from this record." However, Hogan concluded his review with "In the end, disliking Tanglewood Numbers leaves me feeling a bit like one of the schlubs who groused about Dylan going electric... I suppose it’s possible this record’s a grower. For the time being, that’s the best there is to say about it."[12]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by David Berman, except where noted

1."Punks in the Beerlight" 3:31
2."Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed" 2:37
3."K-Hole"David Berman, Mike Fellows2:38
4."Animal Shapes" 3:00
5."I'm Getting Back into Getting Back into You" 2:34
6."How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down" 2:01
7."The Poor, the Fair and the Good"4:14
8."Sleeping Is the Only Love" 2:56
9."The Farmer's Hotel"
10."There Is a Place" 4:19
Total length:34:51


The following people contributed to Tanglewood Numbers:[13]

Silver Jews[edit]

Recording personnel[edit]

  • Joe Funderburk - Mixing
  • David Henry - Vocal Engineer
  • Mark Nevers - Engineer
  • Roger Seibel - Mastering

Additional personnel[edit]


Chart (2005) Peak
US Top Heatseekers 43[14]
US Independent Albums 50[14]


  1. ^ Berman Untangles New Silver Jews Album. Billboard.com. Retrieved 19 June 2011
  2. ^ Lisle, Andria. William Eggleston: King of the Album Cover Photo. The Guardian. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2011
  3. ^ a b c Phares, Heather. "Silver Jews: Tanglewood Numbers". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  4. ^ Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles article: "Silver Jews Singer Polishes Up Dirty Past"
  5. ^ Phares, Heather. Silver Jews - Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved 19 June 2011
  6. ^ a b Tanglewood Numbers Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved 19 June 2011
  7. ^ Howe, Brian (2005-10-21). "Silver Jews: Tanglewood Numbers Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  8. ^ a b Berquist, Josh (2005-10-20). "Silver Jews: Tanglewood Numbers". PopMatters. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  9. ^ Gross, Joe (October 2005). "Silver Jews: Tanglewood Numbers". Spin. SPIN Media LLC. p. 3. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  10. ^ Powell, Mike (2005-10-20). "Silver Jews: Tanglewood Numbers". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-02-17. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert (2005-11-01). "Christians and Heathens". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  12. ^ Dusted Reviews: Silver Jews - Tanglewood Numbers. Dusted Reviews. 16 October 2005. Retrieved 19 June 2011
  13. ^ Tanglewood Numbers - Credits. Allmusic. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  14. ^ a b Tanglewood Numbers - Charts & Awards. Allmusic. Retrieved 19 June 2011