Much has been speculated about Jeff Mangum in the past few years. Every once in a while the Neutral Milk Hotel frontman, who released one of my favorite albums of all time back in 1998, will take the stage at an Elephant Six show and the Web will be abuzz the next day. Slate even did a piece on Mangum back in February for Aeroplane‘s 10th anniversary and called him the “Salinger of indie rock.”
In 2001, I saw E6’s Circulatory System play at Charlottesville, VA’s Tokyo Rose, and Mangum took the stage then as well, drumming and singing some backup vocals. It didn’t seem like a monumental event, just a glimpse of someone whose voice, melodies and magical music I had recently grown to love (I think I had only bought Aeroplane a few months before).
Now, though, it seems like everyone is holding their breath every time Mangum pops up. I don’t know if I’d ever want Neutral Milk Hotel to reform. But then, it’s not really up to me. I do know, though, that I get a warm feeling inside when listening to Mangum singing “Engine,” which originally appeared on the “Holland, 1945″ single, at last night’s Ohio stop on the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise tour: