“Two Headed Boy Pt. 2” by Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum may be the Rilke of indie-folk, and much like Rilke’s poem, “The First Elegy,” “Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2” could be considered his anthem. Like most of Mangum’s songs, there is an otherworldliness behind this one—a dark, cosmic undertow that can’t be fully understood through rationale. When I watched him perform recently I was reminded of the rawness of the Duino Elegies; Mangum’s voice cracked over lines like, “Blister please with those wings in your spine/Love to be with a brother of mine, how he’d love to find/Your tongue in his teeth” and later, musing on death, “When we break, we’ll wait for our miracle/ God is a place where some holy spectacle lies.”
Could it be that the boy in this song is Rilke’s dark angel? That the terror and beauty Rilke imagined as “two faces on the same divine head” is realized in the two-headed boy? Regardless of what you make of this song’s surreal intensity, it will leave you shuddering. After all, every angel is terrifying.
Vanessa Falco‘s poems have appeared in Smartish Pace and Enizagam. In 2012, she received a Norman Mailer Poetry Fellowship. Her translations of South Korean poet, Kim Hye-Soon, are published on Poetry International’s website. She currently teaches in D.C. In her spare time, she is probably rereading The Brothers Karamazov or trying to get you to…
Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints?
Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.
See all Songs of the Week here.
Follow Song of the Week on Twitter: @nohelpforthat