Song of the Week – Holland, 1945, Neutral Milk Hotel


As many of you already know, I’m a ginormous fan of Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report. I’ve hardly missed an episode during the show’s nine year run. Stephen feels like a brother to me. My heart is filled with sadness that the show is over. There will be a huge hole in my daily routine that The Colbert Report used to fill.

The show “ended” with Stephen singing “We’ll Meet Again” with dozens of the shows friends coming onstage to join him.

But if you were patient and stayed tuned past the commercial break you saw the final sign off.

But it was a story by Doug Sibor on the pop culture website, Complex, that caught my attention because it identified the background music as “Holland, 1945” by Neutral Milk Hotel.

Sibor went further to explain why that song was chosen, quoting from a New York Times column written about Colbert by Maureen Dowd last April.

He had 10 older siblings. But after his father and the two brothers closest to him in age died in a plane crash when he was 10 and the older kids went off to college, he said, he was “pretty much left to himself, with a lot of books.”

He said he loved the “strange, sad poetry” of a song called “Holland 1945” by an indie band from Athens, Ga., called Neutral Milk Hotel and sent me the lyrics, which included this heartbreaking bit:

“But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on…
And here is the room where your brothers were born
Indentions in the sheets
Where their bodies once moved but don’t move anymore.”

These words are especially poignant during the holiday season that so many people find difficult to manage through.

Neutral Milk Hotel is a band worth investigating further. Led by Jeff Mangum, they have songs with fascinating lyrics and are accompanied by a band of multi instrumentalists that comes up with interesting, clever arrangements.

Enjoy… until next week.

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