And I will take you and leave you alone
Watching spirals of white softly flow
Over your eyelids and all you did
Will wait until the point when you let go
CIRCLING ALL AROUND THE SUN.
Back in MarchI was asked by my good friend Dave to write a piece on how I found/discovered/first heard of NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL for a blog he was starting up. Dave asked me though to tell me the story of when Jeff Mangum, the lead singer/lyricist first "spoke to me". This may sound like a supremely gross hipster thing to say, because it is, but I got excited because I had the story!Obviously I didn't dare hesitate and began to write as soon as we parted ways in the coffee shop, literally, I sat down 15 feet away from him and began to type.If you aren't familiar with the band, they started out around 1989 and broke up after 1999. I'd risk sounding like a retarded audiophile if I tried to describe how they sounded or even tried to explain their lyrics. But they are magical.
"And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see ..."
As the months have pasted I have become keenly aware of what has been important to my history. I've exhumed, from both paper and digital earth, journals and diary's from high school, Tumblr blogs from sophomore year of college, photos, letters and even the dreaded Myspace notes. These literary quarry's have inspired and become series such as the Keeping Track of History, You Already Know How I Feel: 5 Songs We Use Not To Talk. But tonight something incredibly important is happening, I am going to see Neutral Milk Hotel, live with my older sister and I can already feel the tears welling up in me.
So pretty, so pretty, so pretty, so pretty
Please, please don't leave me here
Since the diagnosis, it's been hard for me to mentally maintain my natural relationships. I often feel like a touchable leper, or an exhausted tree house that the kids used to rough house in. Why? I can't explain it, but when you get cancer you might be able to relate. I love my family with my whole heart, and they know that but it's also been hard with them as well, but the one person that I have missed the most during this process as been my older sister Emily. Without Emily, none of my musical life would have happened. And I'm more thankful now for her husband because his love for music is toxic. So what you'll find below is some music by NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL and the story how Jeff first spoke to me.
So With Out Further Hesitation Here Is My Jeff Mangum Story.
I have no fairy tale or a series of isotopic events that magically linked me to Jeff. Nor was there a chemical fire or an act of truancy, evading some mystical life lesson, Jeff simply just happened. You could have said that years back, because of sibling love and relation, I met Jeff at a party with my older sister.Emily was my beacon of insight, the poster of nonconformity, she was the prima donna during the most important years of my life, the years when one actually begins to think about what is being poured into his soul via rhythm and tone. But what did I listen to?
Pure, unadulterated tragedy. I had recently purchased BRITNEY SPEARS second studio album, Oops!... I Did It Again and also in my collection, sitting upon my night stand like a turd left by an oversized rodent, was Creed's "Human Clay" on tape. Granted I did have some METALLICA albums and also LIVE's Throwing Copper, but quiet simply, I was tunneling my way pucca shell necklaces and dock shoes. As a great teacher told me once, "What ever is worth doing is worth doingpoorly" and inspiration certainly did start out poorly.
It was a breezy Tennessee night and two California kids where locked inside their parents keep. Emily was in her overly sized bedroom, painting on her largest wall, meticulously completing her mural one oddity at a time. If the Berlin Wall was a symbol of art and freedom, it would have looked like Emily's wall. It was littered with quotes, ranging from GREEN DAY to LISA LOBE. There were large portraits of the Cookie Monster and Big Bird from Sesame Street followed by elegant drawings of peacocks and traced hands. Emily was the artist and the move from California to Tennessee had been the hardest for her, so my parents aloud her to express that, I was to much of a little turd at the time to have any sort of "artistic medium".
I was in my 4x4 cellar complete with an overly sized TV and the latest video game system. My walls were bland, maybe a Star Wars poster that could have come from a cereal box and models up on dusty shelves. There was sticky shit on the tape player and collared shirts scattered the floor like a river flowing from the closet. The collared shirts... signs of a dress coded school. That school was hell on earth. But that's besides the point.It was past ten at night, the quiet hour were the wardens slept soundly but gingerly. Then I heard it, footsteps from downstairs slowly and delicately climbing the stairwell, then I saw the shadow past by underneath my door heading for my sisters room. I had deduced that from the sounds of the worn squishy converse and that who else would be going to Emily's room that night, it was John-Michael, the boyfriend was here.If my parents had been right angles, JM was certainly the bevel. His contoured mental state came at a wide birth, where as my parentsan acute opening. There was never a dull moment when he was here, so I quickly followed. As I opened the door I could tell that Emily was mildly discomforted that I had appeared. She didn't want father to know he was here and I was a liability.
Emily beckoned me to leave at once but in my younger years was I was very firm, I would not leave or else I would tell daddy. I WAS A LITTLE SHIT.JM eventually told her that it was ok for me to be here, but I could still see Emily's discomfort, like a cat her hair was still raised. JM, hoping to diffuse the situation pulled out a cd from one of Emily's large jewel case stacks, placed the disc into the boom-box and clicked the play button. It was her favorite cd, but I had never heard her say that before. How had I not known what her favorite was? I was agitatedI was supposed to know.
The speakers popped, cracked, came to life and then it happened; strummed fuzz, organic hums and a manilla nasal voice crooned. What was this shit?
Emily and JM just began to talk, talk over the music and talk over my face exploding from the inside out. I had once thought that every song was about sex. "Danger Zone" by KENNY LOGINS is about fornication, right?! "Landslide" by FLEETWOOD MAC is completely about sad coitus, duh. The Mortal Kombat theme song is about nerdy relations, I mean come on?! Every BEETLES song is about the birds and bees just like every rap and/or pop and song in a Memorex commercial was about copulation. It was all about SEX!But for the first time, my roasting puberty and 14 year old intellect couldn't imagine a girl naked.
My sister was telling JM some story where she was at a party with Davy Havok (the lead singer of AFI) and how he made out with her friend. (I still don't know if that's true to this day...but) I couldn't follow a thing they were saying. For the first time in my life I felt like a fraud. I didn't know anything about music. And that's where I met Jeff. My heart was floating in glass.He lingered in my mind from that day on, slowly becoming a parable of youth. Like the song "Two-Headed Boy" I felt as if Jeff was listening to where I was. As if to touch a moment of present purity and offer solitude. A patience to a confused youth, a yielding and cuddling truth, whispering that all-time is truly a moment to be free. Temperance for tranquility, something much deeper than any intimacy I had experienced. When ever the trumpets sing, like that hollow breeze, I am transported back to a time where I knew nothingand what a comforting feeling that still is.
My name is Brady Effler and I am currently unemployed. That is the truth, but it is also not because I don't want to work, I do. I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma at the end of July 2013, and now I'm fighting the good fight. I am currently going through chemo treatments. From the advisement and orders of my doctor, I am not supposed to be working. Currently I am in the waiting process to receive social security, but that is taking it's time. If you liked what you read, please feel free to donate. I am currently trying to pay off my student loans and other bills (pills, hospital visits, etc...). I'm not going to lie to you, some the donation money will go towards gasoline, or perhaps even a cup of coffee. Anything you give is awesome. Feel free to shoot me an email too if you'd like. I can also make you a gnarly playlist.
Thanks again for reading. I'm not begging, or trying to pull the wool over anyone, just being honest.