Gold Soundz: "Holland, 1945"

Stereogum had a brilliant post on Friday commemorating the 10 year anniversary of In The Aeroplane Under The Sea, which coincidently is today, 2/10/08. It wasn’t until a few years after it was released that I read about this Neutral Milk Hotel classic, and sought it out. I hit the CD purchasing jackpot by finding a used copy ($7, if I remember correctly) - and wondered at the time how good could it really be if someone had decided to junk it for next to nothing. Turns out it was far, far beyond good - I lived in Maine at the time and spent the looong ride to my apartment in the woods listening to Jeff Mangum’s opus at least 2 ½ times. I think, like anyone, I was caught up in the words - swirling, beautiful images the likes of which I don’t think, to this day, I’ve ever heard equaled.

The Anne Frank connection I’d read about manifested itself to me most concretely with the opening words of “Holland, 1945” - the only girl I’ve ever loved was born with roses in her eyes, but then they buried her alive one evening 1945. I wrote about this song once for an online course I was taking -- don’t remember now what the course was. I’m sure what I wrote then is only surpassed in stupidity by what I'm writing now, but the assignment called for us to respond to a piece of literature or song that was about dreams. Very aware that most of my virtual classmates were certainly not indie-hip enough to know what I was talking about (most of them wrote about poems that were too gooey for Chicken Soup books), I wrote a piece detailing what I took as Mangum’s fascination with Frank. I used the fact that the lyrical imagery was dream-like -- flashing images that appear in the air and disappear just as soon -- and all tied together by one man’s dream of knowing a woman (a girl, really) who'd been dead for 50+ years. It was pretty intense and I was nervous as hell at how it would be received, but soon found the lyrics (which I typed out to accompany the post) hit their mark. By the week’s end my post had the most responses (no doubt because they make you think, unlike all those other poems people selected), and I had gained an “A” for the paper.

Of course the connection to both dreams and Anne Frank becomes more clear in the staggering album closer, “Two-Headed Boy, pt. 2” -- In my dreams you’re alive and you’re crying. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea very quickly became and remains among a very short list of my favorite albums of all time. Listening to it right now I’m amazed at the artistic vision that comes with making an album as singular as this. Every song is tied together meticulously, as Stereogum put it, through organ sustain and held notes and ghosts, creating one of the most riveting and personal exercises in poetic rock and roll ever committed to tape. Essential in every way imaginable.

MP3 :: Holland, 1945
(from In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Buy here)

And check out Wakey!Wakey!’s piano led version of “Two-Headed Boy” from his recent weekly covers project. I think this was the best of the bunch:

MP3 :: Two-Headed Boy (Wakey!Wakey!)

1 comment:

Wayne said...

My favourite album ever!