Day 11: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

This song means so much to me.

I first heard “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” when Miles introduced me to it.  We got in the car and he hooked up his iPod to the car stereo.  “You have to hear this song,” he told me.  He played “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel. We listened to it two or three times. He told me about the singer, the band, the mystery surrounding them. He loved the song and the album. I put the album on my own iPod and listened to it many times and also became enthralled.

It was an important moment because now Miles was recommending music to me. After years of introducing him to music and listening together, Miles was now showing me what he liked and we were both liking the same things. He was maybe 12 years old.

This song is also important to me because we included the lyrics in the memorial services we held for Miles in Lewisburg and Morgantown. We looked at his LastFM stream after he died, and we learned that he had listened to Neutral Milk Hotel during the day on August 21, his last day alive. He loved the album and this song in particular, so it was fitting that we remember him through the elegiac lyrics of the “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” At the memorial service for family just a few days after Miles died, John Colatch, chaplain for Bucknell University, read the first two verses printed in our programs and everybody joined him in reciting the final verse. We did the same in Morgantown and in the larger public service held in Lewisburg.

It is hard for me to listen to the song today. I have some powerful associations with Miles and that moment of introduction for me, but it also reminds me too much of the time immediately after his death and the pain feels new again.



“What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all around the sun
What a beautiful dream that could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet
Let me hold t close and keep it here with me

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
Love to be
In the arms of all I’m keeping here with me


What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
And we meet on a cloud
I’ll be laughing out loud
I’ll be laughing with everyone I see
Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all”

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