What Do Bike Thieves Really Deserve?
by Dan
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Mt. Eerie - "Uh Oh! It's Morning Time Again"

We were talking in the comments about being able to imagine the look on someone's face, the way their mouth is moving, just by the way they say something. Well, this song is like that; it starts with a bunch of that "we're just lettin' the tape roll" stuff, which I, like a sucker, always find really evocative. But it's like getting to know the choir before they sing their song. Like sitting in the audience and just watching the band hang out before the song starts (but they can't know you're there, otherwise they're performing). And then when Elvrum hits the line "So if she's dead, then I'm dead too" you know exactly what he looks like, and you know what everyone else looks like, holding their breath and their bongos, waiting. Humanity (hilarious, gentle, cloying, annoying) is what makes this song g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s.



Neutral Milk Hotel - "Engine"

Sean talking about NMH yesterday made me want some of the real thing. I hope you haven't heard this song before, or you've listened to it once or twice, but never sat in it like a chair made of concrete, comfortable somehow. I hope because for me it was the last thing I found by this band, and it's the perfect last thing to find. Like a really compelling clip show (yes, I've been brought in by a clip show). It has everything: tea-stained imagery, a melody that's too simple to be true, the soundscape as music (sign of things to come) and the most insane intensity hidden under a veil of right notes and restraint. I know people say "i've been listening to this song on repeat" to make a point, but I'm not here to make a point (yes I am), it's true.


Posted by Dan at September 23, 2005 2:50 AM

"Uh Oh" is originally a Little Wings song (from the fantastic "Light Green Leaves").

Posted by Sean at September 23, 2005 2:56 AM

First comment from someone who doesn't live here!
Engine's melody does seem really sort of timeless, right? Kinda like a folk standard, or a nursery rhyme, still not nearly my favorite NMH... But it's nice to have a reference point once in a while to something posted on here!

Posted by Yoshi at September 23, 2005 2:58 AM

Wow, I was listening to "Engine" when I read this post. That's cool/creepy.

Posted by Kate at September 23, 2005 9:32 AM

"engine" for life! really, a remarkable song. great post.

Posted by dan at September 23, 2005 10:01 AM

I've never heard "Engine" before - thanks for posting that! And a quick reminder: Kim Cooper's charming little book about NMH in the 33 1/3 series is nearly ready; should be publishing in early November.

Posted by David at September 23, 2005 11:07 AM

Jeff Mangum wrote "Engine" as a children's song, which I think gives the lyrics some context. Amazing song.

Posted by greg at September 23, 2005 11:58 AM

I respect you for totally understanding how i feel about "engine."

Posted by Marcella at September 23, 2005 3:33 PM

must say the original "Uh-Oh" is a much sleepier and surprised song...bleary eyes and matted hair etc...

even still i was glad to hear this'n....


Posted by bmr at September 23, 2005 3:38 PM

There is a live version that is out there on the internets that is also brilliant. I found it under Jeff Magnum, he is playing at a bookstore or something.

Posted by brad at September 23, 2005 11:16 PM

Brad's referring to a Jeff Mangum solo Live CD called "Live at Jittery Joe's" wherein he's playing at a coffee shop. You can get it off Amazon, it can be tough to find in shops but not impossible.

Posted by Dan at September 24, 2005 8:59 PM

Isn't "Uh-Oh" about a man eating his dead lover? Or am I being too literal about this?

It's a remarkably beautiful song, anyway.

Posted by Tyler at September 24, 2005 10:49 PM

Sometimes is nice to go on an airoplane over the sea just to see that there's someone below who knows what a beautiful song I've found in this place...

Posted by Anonymous at September 24, 2005 10:58 PM

Actually the NMH which most enjoy, if you can find it, is their cover of "Glue." The song's quiet build and brittle harmony is just...beauty.

Posted by mox.twelve at September 26, 2005 1:54 AM

Engine was the last NMH i discovered as well and at that time it seemed we'd never hear from Mangum again. I guess in my head i always imagined this song was the last song of the final show. It seemed so utterly heartbreaking that at the song's end there is but the sparest half-hearted applause and Mangum says 'thank you'. And that, was that.

Posted by joshua at September 26, 2005 11:42 AM

Oh unending happiness!!
"Ut-oh Its Morning Time Again" is something I have been looking for for what seems like a lifetime.
I first heard this song played by the Microphones (audience sing along and all) at a show in Portland Oregon.
I knew it was a Little Wing song, but I had not been able to find their track for it anywhere! (now I know, thank you "Sean"!)
Squeeling ensued when I found this, even though its not Little Wing, its better than I could ever have hoped.

Posted by Heidi at October 2, 2005 3:35 PM

From all the death references, should perhaps it be spelled "Mourning"? Or is the misspelling part of the wit? Or is it not misspelled and in reference to the time of happening?

Dear me.

Posted by AustereAbsence at November 2, 2005 3:30 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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