As I write this, I am sitting on my roof and I am watching a homeless lady push a grocery cart down the street. I am timing her to see how long it takes for her to push the grocery cart from one end of the block to the other end.
It takes her twenty-two minutes.
This might seem like a very long time to you, but it is a very long block and a very slow lady.
The reason I am writing is because I have been wanting to tell you that I went to see Neutral Milk Hotel play the other night. This was at Warehouse Live, just east of downtown, back on February the 19th.
The show was really great, all warm and fuzzy and faded. It reminded me of the year 1998, when I was thirteen and homeless and I found a cassette in the street on which someone had dubbed In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.
I did not even know who it was on that cassette, but I listened to it until I wore it out. It was warm and it was fuzzy and it was faded, and it had lyrics like, “God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life,” and “How strange it is to be anything at all.”
It wasn’t until three years later, with the cassette long since worn out, when I finally ran the lyrics on Yahoo and discovered who it was I’d been listening to for all that time.
Neutral Milk Hotel.
So the other night, I was at the show and I was not thirteen anymore. Oh sure, there were some moments when the music made me feel weightless and outside of time, but then I would start to worry about things like where the fire exits were and whether this tall bastard was fixing to stand right in front of me.
When the show was over, I went home and I wrote a song on my acoustic guitar. I call it, “Oh, How Punk You Are, My Dear,” and it’s in the style of Neutral Milk Hotel except that it is ridiculous.
Still, I mean, I got to see Neutral Milk Hotel, and it was really great, and I’ve been wanting to tell you about it.
I think I might start coming out on the roof more often. There’s something about being up here that makes me want to write.
Two posts in one week!?! Reading this, I was trying to think of a band that makes me feel that out-of-time transcendent feeling, one that I connected to as a youth and their songs are still meaningful to me today. I can't think of one...other than Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, of course.ReplyDelete
There are only about 15 portions of about 15 songs (ever!) that make me feel like the floor has dropped out from under me. One song in its entirety.Delete
I should make a list of them sometime.
The problem is, it's such a subjective thing that it doesn't mean much to anyone else.
I love Neutral Milk Hotel. The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One is one of my all time favorite songs to play and sing on the guitar. They're coming here to Portland in April and I'm hoping to see them. Glad to hear the show was good.ReplyDelete
I wasn't that excited about going initially - I mean, they only have two albums of material to choose from and haven't released anything new in a decade and a half.Delete
But they did a great job and the audience was reverential to the point of being cult-like...
I like the name Neutral Milk Hotel. Never heard them or heard of them, but I like the name.ReplyDelete
If I ever get the chance to name a thrash metal band, I think I'll call it Pulsating Quasar. Or something.
Most metal bands seem to use Greek or Latin terms - random prefixes and suffixes thrown together. Pulsating Quasar would be good for a spacey metal band - a band like Electrik Wizard.Delete
Jello Biafra - former leader of the Dead Kennedys - used to have this bit he did where he'd come up with potential band names. The only one I remember was Chocolate Abortion.
I'm keeping all of my good band names secret... I might need them for book titles someday!
I remember those days when loving an album meant wearing it out. "There were some moments when the music made me feel weightless and outside of time". This post did that for me.ReplyDelete
Thank you! I still think of albums as having a first side and a second side - like two acts of a play. I probably always will.Delete
I loved the simple beauty of this post.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Karen. It is a rare example of me sitting down to write something quick with nothing in mind.I try to keep it simple enough to where I stay just this side of sounding dim-witted.Delete
I suddenly smell weed smokeReplyDelete
I did, too. It was kind of strange that I did, because usually, it's just at HUGE indoor shows or any outdoor show. It's weird to smell it in medium-sized indoor shows, especially since Houston has instituted its smoking ban.Delete
There is some music that just demands it, I guess.
My wife dragged me to the Justin Timberlake concert here last month and one of the things I'll never forget is the fat, bald, 60 year old man in front of us who kept pulling up an enormous joint from his sweater vest pocket and puffing on it between songs.Delete
He was there by himself, mind you. And enjoying every damn minute of it.
There truly IS some music that just demands it, I guess.
It sounds like he was bringing sexy back.Delete
You're in Colorado, though, aren't you? Aren't y'all required by law to light up every half hour?
Ugh I wrote this long comment and *poof* --- GONE! :(ReplyDelete
Anyway, I have never heard of it before, but it sounds great, and the music seems really great.
Your story reminds me of a post I had written back in 2009, where this gentleman would walk out of his apartment and smoke his cigarette alone around 8 pm… I would wonder if he was happy, or unhappy and just conjured up some scenarios in my mind. But, he was like a muse -- I wrote more when I saw him. Strange. So every evening, I'd go out and sit on my little deck and watch the other people do their thing below, as I particularly focused on this guy and what he may have been thinking or contemplating. Take a peek when you have time. http://www.debrapasquella.com/2009/05/his-last-cigarette.html?spref=tw
I hope that lady got to her destination!
I'm such a "people watcher". I should just sit in a mall somewhere for inspirational pieces.
Hi, Deb. The comment Gremlins have been awful this week. I've given up writing comments on my iPad.Delete
I used to like going to airports to people watch, but you can't really do that anymore. With so many people in such a hurry in an airport, it was basically sensory overload, so I could freak out or go into this Zen-like detachment state.
Better busy than dead.Delete
I haven't heard Neutral Milk Hotel in years. I remember they were on my radar a while back, but I tend to cycle in and out of music genres at unhealthy speeds. But after this post, I'm definitely going to see what the band's up to nowadays. Anyway, that's great that you finally got to see them and that you were able to rally some inspiration from them.ReplyDelete
They have done NOTHING in 15 years. Completely disappeared until this new tour, which doesn't appear to include anything new. It's just like a Resurrection of Syd Barrett tour or something. The thing is, that last album they did back in 1998 grows, somehow. It becomes part of the listener's hard-wiring.Delete
I've seen almost everyone live I want to see. Never saw Lou Reed and I keep missing Roger Waters. But everyone else.
Experiencing good, live music is one of the best feelings! Also rooftops... when I was younger I would follow my cat onto the roof of the house, and stay up there for awhile. Great place to get some good thinking done! Just... don't follow the cat's way down. People don't have 9 lives, heh.ReplyDelete
That's good advice: Cats aren't nearly as good to use as guides as you might otherwise think. "What would my cat do in this situation?" has led me astray more than once...Delete
Sadly, I'm not kidding...
I love that about music. Whether it's hearing a song you associate with a low point in laugh when you're in a much better place or listening to a "happy" song when you're down, it's an emotional ride. I've never heard of Neutral Milk Hotel, but I enjoyed the song you posted and will have to check out others. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Hi, Kim! I was just saying to someone on this blog a couple weeks ago that I cam unable to really relate with religious belief or the concept of being in love, but I can sort of analogize to the effect music has on me. I would have the same kind of conceptual problems explaining it that other people have explaining those other two concepts to me.Delete
What a beautiful face I have found in this placeReplyDelete
That is circling all 'round the sun
What a beautiful dream that could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet, let me hold it close and keep it here with me
What a curious life we have found here tonight
There is music that sounds from the street
There are lights in the clouds, Katy's ghost all around
Hear her voice as it's rolling and ringing through me
The Aeroplane Over The Sea
There's an episode of "South Park" where Cartman has to sing ALL of STYX's "Sail Away" every time the song is mentioned. I'm the same way with this whole album.Delete
You'd think that would change after 16 years, but no...
So now I am going to have to go through the whole album, man... Your fault.
Oh man, thanks for writing this. Going to listen to NMH after ages, I'm just so glad you not only reminded me but nailed that warm fuzzy back-in-time feeling I associate with them. Another band that does the same for me is Pavement.ReplyDelete
It's funny that you mention Pavement, because I was going to go to the Stephen Malkmus show tonight, except I have the kids this weekend, so it's a no-go. "Slanted and Enchanted" came out when I was 7 or something, and my dad used to listen to it all of the time. I remember playing a song called "Loretta's Scars."Delete
Slint's "Spiderland" is another of those Nineties albums that feel like they're from a parallel universe.
I want to make a movie just to pick the most nineties-ish parallel-universe OST.Delete
Give it five years. They seem to be making a lot of Eighties worlds in movies right now.Delete
I used to think about what sort of worlds albums created. Some weirdo artists like Robyn Hitchcock and Captain Beefheart and Legendary Pink Dots seem to come from fully-functional worlds that you can picture in your head. I could probably write novels from within those worlds if I listened to their stuff consistently for a few days...
Two words: Frank Zappa. And the man wasn't even on anything. Also, talking about eighties-retro movies, is it still shameful to admit absolutely loving Hot Tub Time Machine?Delete
I've never delved into Zappa. Yet. I guess I'm saving him for old age or something.Delete
I own "Freak Out," which is very early Zappa, but I've never jumped in the way I need to jump in to "get" an artist.
cassette worn out - never thought that this term would turn arachaic even before I hit wheel chair :)ReplyDelete
Was that cassette found by mistake or it was like 90 equivalent of iPhone 5 stunt in coffee shops.
Neutral milk hotel - love the name of the band sorry but i have no idea. glad to know that you had good time
It's amazing the sorts of thing you can find discarded in the street.Delete
I have found cartons of cigarettes and six-packs of beer in the street.
Cassettes and CDs are traditionally two things that end up in the street a lot. I don't know why. Maybe people set them on their car and forget them when they drive off.
That was a good review and justifiably so!ReplyDelete
Haha... Thank you. Like all the best reviews, it was more about the reviewer than the reviewed.Delete
"The Kentucky Derby is decadent and depraved..."