Why Colbert May Have Chosen That Final Song

The reason is heartbreaking
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2014 9:27 AM CST
Why Colbert May Have Chosen That Final Song
This Sept. 8, 2010, publicity photo released by Comedy Central shows host Stephen Colbert appearing on "The Colbert Report" in New York.   (AP Photo/Comedy Central, Scott Gries)

After Stephen Colbert was bid a fond farewell by dozens of celebrities last night, the outro music that ran over the closing credits for his final show was not the music the Colbert Report typically used. Instead, it was Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945", Slate reports, and it points to an April New York Times column by Maureen Dowd that could explain why. Colbert "had 10 older siblings," Dowd explained. "But after his father and the two brothers closest to him in age died in a plane crash when he was 10 and the older kids went off to college, he said, he was 'pretty much left to himself, with a lot of books.'"

And, he told her back then, he loved the "strange, sad poetry" of the aforementioned song. He sent her the lyrics, which include these lines: "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 is the room where your brothers were born / Indentions in the sheets / Where their bodies once moved but don't move anymore." In 2009, a Village Voice blog revealed that Colbert kept his energy up during commercial breaks by playing that song (among others) loudly. Hear it at the tail end of last night's full episode here. (Read more Stephen Colbert stories.)

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