Sunday, February 10, 2008

May I Have a Moment of Silence for...
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the release of Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. If you've ever had a drink with anyone on the Range Life staff, you know what this album means to us. Anniversaries like this are what we wait for -- an excuse to wax poetical about one of our favorite albums of all time.

During college I worked at a sandwich shop. What made the job bearable was my coworkers, many of whom I still count amongst my closest friends. One of the other things that made the job bearable was that with a group of college age kids minding the store, we were able to listen to whatever music we wanted to, sometimes to the chagrin of the restaurant's elderly patrons. During my three years working there I discovered Sonic Youth, Stephen Malkmus/Pavement, Sleater Kinney, Stereolab, The Flaming Lips, and so on and so forth (I still have the scrap of paper from when my friend and I called in to KJHK, KU's student radio station, to inquire about a song we had heard that night -- the acoustic version of "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," a song I would later name my dog after.)

One night I was in the back of the store wrestling with the mop bucket when a song assaulted my ear drums. "I love you, Jesus Christ!" a warbly-voiced singer cried. "Jesus Christ, I love you, yes I do!" I was still working out my feelings about Jesus Christ at the time, and after an argument I had had with my mother over my failure to sing in church, didn't much care to hear anyone else sing about Him. "Ryan!" I yelled to the front of the store. "What is this shit?" He just laughed.

I laugh now, too, every time I remember that moment I first heard Jeff Mangum's beautifully flawed voice, or the time my husband stood outside our duplex throwing full cans of hot beer at the building and singing those very lines we'd all been so put off by in the beginning. My relationship with Aeroplane has been a cacophony of little moments like these, little moments like those that inhabit the album, that crawl inside it like "secrets asleep in winter clothes."

Last year I wrote about a post about needing to save important albums for important moments in my life. Well, dear readers, I hope you'll join me in taking a quiet moment to sit and slip on the headphones today.

Let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see.

4 comments:

SonicRyan said...

Amen.

panopticon said...

Indeed.

"Wax poetical" is a very appropriate phrase to lend to this album, because lyrically it is one of the most interesting and cohesive narratives set to music of our musical eras, if not ever. I don't use that term lightly, and I don't think you'll disagree.

One thing that struck me about this album recently is all the references to manipulating people with hands ("placing fingers through the notches in your spine," "push my fingers through your mouth to make those muscles move," etc.), like so many marionettes. Each song is its own individual act, a postcard from a great tragedy.

So, uh, when's the next album? Portishead is roughly the same era and they have a new one...

Gossip♥Grrl said...

One of my favorite albums ever. I remember not understanding it at first and then just suddenly "getting it."
Now, I'm trying to remember if this album is in my car so I can listen to it on my drive home.
<3

diana lyn said...

10 years?! Serious. I feel old. What a shame Jeff disappeared...