The Colbert Report finale song “Holland, 1945”: Did Colbert pay tribute to his dead brothers with Neutral Milk Hotel in the closing credits?

The Heartbreaking Story That Might Explain the Song Stephen Colbert Chose to End His Show

The Heartbreaking Story That Might Explain the Song Stephen Colbert Chose to End His Show

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 19 2014 12:44 AM

The Heartbreaking Story That Might Explain the Song Stephen Colbert Chose to End His Show

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For his closing credits, Colbert chose "Holland, 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel.

© Comedy Central

After almost a decade on the air, Stephen Colbert brought The Colbert Report to a close Thursday night. For the final show, he brought back many familiar segments, including “The Wørd” and an abbreviated edition of “Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A” in which Colbert finally managed to overcome death.

But the closing credits contained something different. Rather than the usual outro music, the show played “Holland, 1945” by the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Why that song? As Maureen Dowd noted in an article about Colbert in the New York Times in April, Colbert “had 10 older siblings” as a child, but his family was struck by tragedy. “[H]is father and the two brothers closest to him in age died in a plane crash when he was 10.

Colbert told Dowd he loved the “strange, sad poetry” of “Holland, 1945,” and he sent her the lyrics, which contain these words:

But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on
And here's where your mother sleeps
And here is the room where your brothers were born
Indentions in the sheets
Where their bodies once moved but don’t move anymore.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate senior editor. He writes and edits for Slate’s culture blog, Brow Beat.