He was a great fan of William S. Burroughs, for better or worse, and it shows in his gruelingly free-associative imagery and in his loyalty to the ostracized, broken, and lost. His voice was grainy and nasal, his articulation precise (except when he didn't put in his teeth). He'd quit hard drugs by the early 70s and got sober in the early 80s, but his longtime struggles with mental illness continued. He committed suicide by slitting his own throat in 1991, at age 40.
Bernstein released a cassette called Sad Bag on Trigger Recordings in 1990, but I've never seen a copy. Even if you already know who he is, odds are good the only album of his you've heard of is Prison, a 1992 Sub Pop release scored by composer and producer Steve Fisk. Just one song, "No No Man (Part One)," was completed while Bernstein was still alive.
Today's 12 O'Clock Track is "No No Man (Part Two)." Its climactic lurch in tone from innocence and nostalgia to bitter, helpless despair still gives me chills almost 20 years after I first heard it.
This is the official promo clip for "No No Man (Part Two)," the only video Bernstein ever made. The sound quality isn't great, and the profanity has been backward masked, which wrecks the cadence of certain lines.
Here's the same song uncensored, accompanied by a fan-made slideshow.