One of the more surprising moments in recent music history comes midway through the celebrated 1998 indie rock album, "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," by the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Hiding in an otherwise understated tune are some startling lyrics:
I know they buried her body with others.
Her sister and mother and five hundred families.
And will she remember me fifty years later?
I wish I could save her with some sort of time machine....
It is, as many a hipster could tell you, an album about Anne Frank. Its singer and lyricist was a shaggy-headed 27-year-old named Jeff Magnum. As far removed as his native Louisiana was from Amsterdam, his songs give the unmistakable impression that he is a man in love with a 15-year-old girl who had been murdered more than five decades earlier.