It’s not unusual for me to dream about music [See Kurt Cobain dream No. 431: Hosting “SNL.” (Do NOT see the I am dying to interview Biggie Smalls dream, or the J. Geils Band turns me into a cocker spaniel puppy dream. Those are too private for this medium.) ]
And you should know, dear reader, that when I say going to see Jeff Mangum play live tonight is a dream come true, it is not a cliché as much as it is a literal expression of my excitement and even my apprehension about seeing this guy play live.
I mention apprehension because the dream I remember most vividly about getting a chance to see the reclusive Neutral Milk Hotel frontman live was rife with mixed emotions. In the dream I had traveled across the world on my own to see his band. I couldn’t afford to bring anybody because the plane tickets were so expensive. I think my conscious mind took the fact that up until this year, his previous full-length performance was in New Zealand more than a decade ago. I am a big enough fan that I sought out the bootleg of that particular performance, and it’s pretty great. Anyway, I went to some New Zealand-ish place (I say “ish” because I’ve never been there in real life so I think the New Zealand I invented was more like the shaded tree house neighborhood that BaBar the elephant called home).
So when I got to the area where the concert was taking place, I climbed up a rope ladder to a tree house that was more bar bar, than BaBar. There were a lot of other people in my solitary predicament who had come alone to see this rare exclusive Neutral Milk Hotel show, and we made fast friends. We kept ordering drinks, and the waitress, who may or may not have been a sexy version of Celeste kept bringing us these raisin finger sandwiches, which I suppose in my imaginary New Zealand were like cheeseburgers are to America.
We kept looking at our watches in anticipation and we kept ordering beers. Around beer No. 6 though, when somebody proposed we get one more round before going to the show, I realized that this might mean we’d miss a few minutes. I became livid.
“Guys, are you serious,” I petitioned my new imaginary friends. “There is NO WAY I am going to miss a single second of this performance!”
They looked at me with the disgusted resignation reserved for people who are soon to be excluded from a group forever.
“Okay, whatever dooood,” said one of the guys.
I tried to reason with them, but my tone had already given me away. I was taking this too seriously, and these people saw this as a bad thing. Even if I did make it to the show on time, I would feel a deep self-consciousness for the rest of the night. You know, the kind where you keep saying to yourself, “This is fun, right? We are having a good time, are we not? Of course we are. Because this is fun, right?” And these new friends would be blackballing me no matter what I did.
I wobbled down the rope ladder and I could hear mellifluous organ sounds emanating from a tree house about a mile away. It was dark out, and I started to run towards the sound. Despite my best efforts I was late anyway. The darkness became more enveloping as I ran harder.
Then I tripped on a root and awoke with a start.
Whew, it was only a dream, I thought, but then I was faced with an unhappy reality. My new friends who had ostracized me so readily may not have been real, but neither was the concert.
But at long last, Jeff Mangum is performing again in real life! And so as not to tempt fate, I will NOT be ordering raisin finger sandwiches today!