“What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
What a beautiful dream
That could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me

Soft and sweet
Let me hold it close and keep it here with me.

And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see,
Love to be
In the arms of all I’m keeping here with me.

What a curious life
We have found here tonight

There is music that sounds on the street
There are lights in the clouds
Anna’s ghost all around
Hear her voice as it’s rolling and ringing through me
Soft and sweet
How the notes all bend and reach above the trees”

So many times people try to cover songs from Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In an Aeroplane Over the Sea” and it is arguably a huge waste of time, because those songs are so iconic and memorable and legitimate classics. As modern rock, they reach beyond the underground cult status they once achieved. They are great songs because they are beautiful songs, because they are well-written songs. Because Jeff Magnum channeled something innate in him. No one should bother touching that, right? Yet as far as the cover efforts go, I have never seen anyone do it as well as the brilliant and talented Lera Lynn.

She and her band truly make this song her own, with a twinge of blues-rock in the guitar and a downbeat swing on the kit. The mournful solo, the prominent bass, they bring out an accessible folk quality in this song that is slightly unreachable among the original’s literary pretense. It’s far more approachable here. There’s the same dark passion that exists in the original, but it is funneled through something more immediate, especially in this live and lively setting. Then…the way she sings the final verse is as impressive of a performance from of an up-and-coming performer as I could imagine, and the best kind of indie rock female vocal, in my estimation. So strong and beautiful and crystal clear. I am a little obsessed and more inspired.

“Oh how I remember you
How I would push my fingers through
Your mouth to make those muscles move
That made your voice so smooth and sweet
But now we keep where we don’t know
All secrets sleep in winter clothes
The one you loved so long ago
Now he don’t even know his name

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
And when we meet on a cloud
I’ll be laughing out loud
I’ll be laughing with everyone I see
Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all.”
~In An Aeroplane Over The Sea
Neutral Milk Hotel, In An Aeroplane Over the Sea/Lera Lynn at Athfest 2011