Back in August, Jeff Mangum (the prodigious talent behind one of my favorite albums of all time, Neutral Milk Hotel
's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
) stunned New York fans of Olivia Tremor Control
by appearing on stage, in the flesh, to sing with them in concert. Mangum had not made a public appearance in years...not since the tour for In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
. Nor has Neutral Milk Hotel released anything else. Meanwhile, Mangum's output has been elusive and sporadic. In short, this was a big deal.
And then it happened again. This time, Mangum sang briefly with Elf Power
, again in New York. Word
is he seemed more comfortable than in his previous appearance. That's twice in under six months that he's come out of the shadows. Can we take this as a sign that the man's ready to make music again? My God, I hope so.
Admittedly, I'm presenting a fairly biased view of things. There will always be a special place in my heart for Neutral Milk Hotel for a number of reasons. They hail from my home town
, for one. Still, I take way more pride in NMH than in R.E.M. So it might be because I was at just the right age to really appreciate a great comtemporary band when I became aware of them. Or maybe it's because I will forever associate their music with the good times I had listening with like-minded friends. Or, perhaps it's because I was lucky enough to have seen them live before they dropped off the radar.
Or, just maybe, it's because they recorded one of the greatest albums of recent times. In the Aeroplane
stirred feelings in my I didn't know I had, and I've watched it bring people to tears. It has, honestly, enriched my life and soul in a pretty significant way. I just can't say that about many other recordings.
So, while it is unrealistic to expect another Aeroplane
, and while I know many of you are saying to yourselves that I've done some overstating here, the fact remains that we could all do with a little more Mangum in our diet.
Do any of you have deep personal connections to the music of artists who no longer record? If you could will just one more good (let's not be greedy) album from any defunct musician(s), who would it be?