Listen: Neutral Milk Hotel – April 8th

Neutral Milk Hotel‘s “April 8th” appeared on their first (of two) studio album, 1996’s On Avery Island.  The album was recorded in Denver, CO in 1995 while Jeff Mangum, the band’s founder and chief contributor, lived in a closet at a friend’s house (Mangum and the friend believed the house was haunted, including the closet). On Avery Island is a fuzzy, jangly dream filled with xylophones, horns, organs, and fervent lyrics.  The frenetic layers of clangs and hums and buzz push the listener to a pleasing apprehension,  the striking melodies are the only thing keeping the songs on the ground.  Mangum once said, “I for one love music that makes my brain freeze…some chanting and banging and confusion from Bolivia that makes me forget myself for awhile.”  Fuzz-Folk is what some called it – it was a refreshing style in 1996 and is a very common one in 2011.

“April 8th” is the most subdued track instrumentally, but Mangum’s distinct timbre, coupled with the vivid lyrics, keep the song above a lull.  Mangum expresses his loneliness and longing, not a surprising topic for a man who once lived in a closet.  It is perhaps the least cryptic song in the Neutral Milk Hotel catalog.

Crawl across towards your window
I’m calling softly from the street
Always a lonely widow
Half awake and sleeping on my feet
I’m of age but have no children
No quarter phone booth calls to home
Just late night television
Inside my bedroom all alone

There is no use in waiting
Offer up your steps so I can climb
Show me all your figure paintings
Etched in the middle of the night
Let me stretch upon your carpet
Let me hear the rain tap on your street
Knowing I am safe on the inside
Blankets wrapped and drifting off to sleep

Neutral Milk Hotel – April 8th (Demo).

Listen to other tracks from On Avery Island:

Neutral Milk Hotel – Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone
Neutral Milk Hotel – Song Against Sex