157. Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’

Is there a more unlikely indie rock classic than Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea? It’s an album by a nerdy dude living in Georgia who had put out one mostly unlistenable singer-songwriter album (On Avery Island) and it was an album that incorporated the story of Anne Frank (he somehow went through life without reading it until before recording the album) a two-headed boy living in a jar (this is probably a metaphor) and a king of flowers. It’s heavy on introspective lyrics, robust horn arrangements, and non-ironic references to Jesus Christ. It’s not exactly the album you’d think would be a mega hit amongst the plastic glasses and flannel set.

But here’s the thing: I think I’ve heard more In The Aeroplane Over The Sea origin stories from people than any other album. The people who love this album love this album unequivocally. They have shed tears over this album. They can tell flowery stories about making out to this album. They have felt all of the feelings to this album.

You see where this going, right? I don’t have any stories like that. I acknowledge that Aeroplane is a total classic, that “Holland, 1945” is one of the best songs, and that Jeff Mangum is very good at his job. I just don’t have the same stories as some of you. This is but another really good album to me, and I feel sorry about that, for some reason.