Holland, 1945

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"Holland, 1945"
Holland 45 single.jpg
Single by Neutral Milk Hotel
from the album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
ReleasedOctober 13, 1998
RecordedJuly 1997
StudioPet Sounds, Denver, Colorado
GenreIndie rock
LabelBlue Rose, Orange Twin
Songwriter(s)Jeff Mangum
Producer(s)Robert Schneider
Neutral Milk Hotel singles chronology
"Everything Is"
"Holland, 1945"
"You've Passed/Where You'll Find Me Now"
Audio sample

"Holland, 1945" is a song by the American indie rock group Neutral Milk Hotel. It was released as the only single from the band's second and final studio album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea in October 1998. "Holland, 1945" is one of the album's louder, more upbeat songs, featuring overdriven and distorted guitars. The song also showcases fuzz noise on all of the instruments, a quality created by producer Robert Schneider.

"Holland, 1945" was one of the last songs Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum wrote for In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. It remained untitled until art director Chris Bilheimer asked Mangum what to title the song in the liner notes; when Mangum told him to use either "Holland" or "1945", Bilheimer suggested combining the two.[1]

Single release[edit]

The single version of "Holland, 1945" was released in October 1998. It was the second single released by the band, and was the band's last official release before a decade-long hiatus and their subsequent reunion in 2011. Orange Twin Records released some un-numbered versions through its website. A rare promo CD was released on October 19, 1998.[2]

The single contains the b-side track "Engine", which was recorded live in a London Underground station underneath Piccadilly Circus.[3]

In 2011, the single was re-issued as a 7" picture disc with a fold-out poster and a different version of "Engine".


The song contains references to Anne Frank. In 1945, World War II ended and Frank and her sister Margot died of typhus. The lyric "all when I'd want to keep white roses in their eyes" could be seen as a reference to the White Rose resistance group that existed in Nazi Germany in the early 1940s, though songwriter Jeff Mangum claims that he had never heard of the movement before In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was released.[1]

Also referenced in the song is a "dark brother wrapped in white". In the liner notes for the song, Mangum initialed the letters "(h.p.)" after the words "your dark brother". A critic for The Boston Phoenix wrote in 1998 that this "dark brother" was someone who committed suicide, a family member of one of Mangum's close friends.[1][4]


In 2010 Pitchfork included the song at number 7 on their list of the "Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s".[5]

"Holland, 1945" is played during the closing credits of the final episode of The Colbert Report.[6] Slate speculated the song was chosen to pay tribute to host Stephen Colbert's father James William Colbert, Jr. and older brothers Peter and Paul, who were killed in the crash of Eastern Air Lines Flight 212, when he was 10 years old.[6] Colbert's emotional connection to the song was noted in an article by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times in 2014.[7]


  • Jeff Mangum – vocals, guitar, bowed fuzz bass
  • Jeremy Barnes – drums, organ
  • Scott Spillane – trumpet, euphonium
  • Julian Koster – singing saw
  • Rick Benjamin – trombone
  • Marisa Bissinger – saxophone
  • Michelle Anderson – Uilleann pipes

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Holland, 1945" – 3:14
  2. "Engine" – 3:13


  1. ^ a b c Cooper, Kim (2007) [2005]. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. 33⅓. New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-1690-X.
  2. ^ "Neutral Milk Hotel releases". Neutralmilkhotel.org. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  3. ^ "Neutral Milk Hotel". Neutral Milk Hotel. Archived from the original on September 8, 2007. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  4. ^ Carioli, Carly (March 7, 2008) [March 5, 1998]. "Mangum's opus, Neutral Milk Hotel's epic Aeroplane" (review). The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  5. ^ Powell, Mike (September 2010). "Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 7. Neutral Milk Hotel" (staff list). Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Forrest, Wickman. "The Heartbreaking Story That Might Explain the Song Stephen Colbert Chose to End His Show". Slate. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  7. ^ Dowd, Maureen (12 April 2014). "A Wit for All Seasons". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2016.

External links[edit]