Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland, 1945 (1998)

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“Holland, 1945” is the sixth track from the 1998 Neutral Milk Hotel album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. It was released as a single in October 1998. The song contains references to Anne Frank. In 1945, World War II ended and Frank and her sister Margot died of typhus. The lyric “all when I’d want to keep white roses in their eyes” could be seen as a reference to the White Rose resistance group that existed in Nazi Germany in the early 1940s, though songwriter Jeff Mangum claims that he had never heard of the movement before In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was released. Also referenced in the song is a “dark brother wrapped in white”. In the liner notes for the song, Mangum initialed the letters “(h.p.)” after the words “your dark brother”. A critic of the Boston Phoenix wrote in 1998 that this “dark brother” was someone who committed suicide, a family member of one of Mangum’s close friends. Musically, “Holland, 1945” is one of the album’s louder, more upbeat songs, featuring overdriven and distorted guitars. The song also showcases fuzz noise on all of the instruments, a quality created by producer Robert Schneider. The song was one of the last to be written for In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and remained untitled until art director Chris Bilheimer asked Mangum what to title the song in the liner notes for the album. Mangum told him to use either “Holland” or “1945” and Bilheimer suggested simply combining the two.In September 2010 Pitchfork Media included the song at number 7 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 90s.

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