Congratulations to Jeff Mangum and Astra Taylor, who were recently married. Mangum, as everybody knows, founded Neutral Milk Hotel, whose album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is widely regarded as one of the best albums of the 1990s. Taylor is a writer and filmmaker who directed the documentary, Zizek! for which Neutral Milk Hotel drummer Jeremy Barnes provided the original music.
Glorious Noise received confirmation of the nuptials from Ms. Talyor via email. “It’s a fact,” she said.
In much, much sadder news, Ruston, Louisiana’s Daily Leader has reported that Jeff Mangum’s dad, James N. Mangum, Jr., “passed away on Oct. 19, 2007 in Austin, Texas following complications from surgery.”
Jim received a B.A. and M.A. from North Texas State University and a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University. He was a faculty member in the Department of Economics at Louisiana Tech University School of Business Administration from 1970 until his retirement.
Our sincere condolences go out to the Mangum family.
Back in 2003, Creative Loafing tracked down Dr. Mangum and asked him about the disturbing family dynamics that are alluded to in the album’s lyrics (“And your mom would stick a fork right into daddy’s shoulder / And dad would throw the garbage all across the floor”):
“Sounds pretty bad on that record doesn’t it?” says James Mangum, Jeff’s dad and a retired economics professor. “His mother and I didn’t get along, and we divorced when Jeff was 14. But the kids never got caught in between us as far as our fighting was concerned. They just always came No. 1, no matter how badly we fought. But some of [the album] was autobiographical. Some of it, I don’t understand. He starts talking about it, well, ‘I looked for a thousand ways to die’ or something like that. I didn’t know that he interpreted it that way. The way I interpreted the record, he was on my side, so to speak, but sympathetic.”
Jeff Mangum responded to Creative Loafing‘s repeated requests for an interview:
“I am flattered that you want to talk me, but I have to say no. I wish you the very best in everything you do. But please do not contact my family. I think [my dad] was caught off guard by you, and maybe even a little intrigued at first, but now he is left wondering how a perfect stranger could know about his painful past. I don’t wish to revisit the past either.”
Maybe married life will inspire him to get back in the studio. And if not, we’ll always have In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Next month will see the tenth anniversary of that album’s release. Ten years! Even reclusive old oddball Robert Wyatt has released several albums in that time period!