Monday, February 27, 2012

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

(2005) Kim Cooper

Young Neo lent me this book from the "33-1/3" series of 100-page-or-so treatments each concerning a music album of particular interest. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea was the second album from Jeff Mangum's idie rock band, Neutral Milk Hotel; one of the configurations to come out of the Elephant 6 collective; a close group of young friends, starving artist types, who figured largely in this and other bands, notably Olivia Tremor Control and Apples in Stereo. Aeroplane was a major international success without any marketing from a major record label but because of its remarkable integrity, genius and strange beauty and the potentially endless process of word-of-mouth.

The book drifted through a fair amount of logistical details which I did not find interesting, and spoiled some of the songs somewhat, for me anyway, by offering explanatory notes on the lyrical content, despite the author's introductory rationalization that it shouldn't. I won't fall for that again.

Some of the anecdotes though, carried a lot of weight. Between the lines, I sensed something really special had been going on. Primarily a lot of love and courage.

At the moment near completion as I turned to the last page, I was wondering whether I would slot this book under the 2-star or 3-star column of my personal book log. One final page later, I knew it would be 4-stars. Because the last page ends with the following quote from Neutral Milk Hotel's Julian Koster. As a very serious poet, I appreciate this message whole-heartedly. It is directed at young musicians and artists anywhere who are trying to find thier way. I can tell you without a shade of uncertainty, that if every young person took this to heart, the world would become a better place; about a million times better:

"I think what Elephant 6 meant for us is very simple: there's something pure and infinite in you, that wants to come out of you, and can come out of no other person on the planet. That's what you've got to share, and that's as real and important as the fact that you're alive. We were able, at a really young age, to somehow protect each other so we could feel that. The world at large, careerism, money, magazines, your parents, the people at the rock club in your town, other kids, nothing is going to give you that message, necessarily. In fact, most things are going to lead you away from it, sadly, because humanity is really confused at the moment. But you wouldn't exist if the universe didn't need you. And any time I encounter something beautiful that came out of a human somewhere, that's them, that's their own soul. That's just pure, whatever its physicality is, if the person can play the piano, if they can't play piano, if they're tone-deaf, whatever it is, if it's pure, it hits you like a sledge-hammer. It fills up your own soul, it makes you want to cry, it makes you glad you're alive, it lets you come out of you. And that's what we need: we desperately need you."

"You wouldn't exist if the universe didn't need you." Did you hear that? If that doesn't blow you away, I'm not sure I have any hope for you.

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