The Sad Meaning Behind Stephen Colbert Ending ‘The Colbert Report’ With Neutral Milk Hotel

12.19.14 4 years ago 25 Comments

So, last night I had this weird dream that after 10 seasons, The Colbert Report ended and instead of a normal last episode, Bill Clinton, HEISENBERG, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stipe, Big Bird, enemy-of-the-state James Franco, and Randy Newman were there, and Stephen went on a sleigh ride with Santa and Alex Trebek, and…wait, what? It was a helluva finale, and it all concluded with Neutral Milk Hotel’s deceptively tragic “Holland, 1945” playing over the end credits. Why that song, and not, say, a recording of Papa Bear grunting “America” while having sex?

For one thing, Colbert’s a huge NMH fan.

As the taping rolls and the commercial breaks interrupt, Colbert keeps his energy level up by listening to, among other things, Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland, 1945” — we know this because it plays loudly, throughout the studio. Two girls in the seats in front of me start singing along and — as they start sort of swaying — Colbert spots them and starts pointing rhythmically in their direction, all the while faithfully mouthing the lyrics. (Via)

But there’s a sadder association with the song, as recounted by the New York Times.

He had 10 older siblings. But after his father and the two brothers closest to him in age died in a plane crash when he was 10 and the older kids went off to college, he said, he was “pretty much left to himself, with a lot of books.”

He said he loved the “strange, sad poetry” of a song called “Holland, 1945” by an indie band from Athens, Ga., called Neutral Milk Hotel and sent me the lyrics, which included this heartbreaking bit:

“But now we must pick up every piece

Of the life we used to love

Just to keep ourselves

At least enough to carry on…

And here is the room where your brothers were born

Indentions in the sheets

Where their bodies once moved but don’t move anymore.”

Well, I’m going to curl up into the fetal position and feel sad for the rest of the day. So, pretty much your normal Neutral Milk Hotel listening experience.

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