Saturday, September 12, 2009

69 Love Songs Turns 69 Divided by 6.9

I wrote this while I was really drunk and outraged last night. I am going to let it stand, unedited and uncompleted, as a celebration and defense of The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs on its 10th birthday. I think Stephen Merritt would appreciate its messiness and lack of completion.


Stephen Merritt's got 69 problems, and a bitch is almost all of them. I don't have a valid transitional line to follow this opening sentence, but God, aren't I clever?

I want to take this drunken opportunity to celebrate the Tin Anniversary of 69 Love Songs, the sprawling (but not epic--and when was the last damn time you saw any music or movie reviewed use the word "sprawling" without "epic" in front of it. Lazy English. Say what you will about Christgau---no, seriously, he's horrible, inconsistent, pans great albums, celebrates terrible albums, and has a style of writing that destroys the point of criticism--but at least he avoids cliches) three CD masterpiece from The Magnetic Fields.

It's great for a lot of things. Wallowing in depression. Throwing a depressing party. Holding a depressing Power Hour that is 9 minutes too long (why didn't this ever happen?)

But I feel compelled to write about it not because I love to watch myself think when I'm drunk, nor because it is one of my favorite albums of all time, not because I really like clever depressing music (my Itunes top 50 most played would dispute this) but because I learned of the anniversary on Stereogum and because all of the commenters on the 2Gum post were trashing it for idiotic reasons.

Now, I don't have an account at Stereogum--though rest assured that if I did it would be an obnoxious pun on a hip-but-well-known band/song (off the top of my head, I have hair.

No, but seriously, off the top of my head: Vampire Workweek, Cum Fee in Nautica, Clap Your Hands Say Some Loud Thunder Was Horrible)

--but as a music-liker and a "writer" I respect 69 Love Songs a lot to defend it. And I'm not talking about an Allen Iverson limp-wristed slap-at-the-ball-as-a-faster-point-guard-blows-by-me offense. I'm talkin' bout PRACTICE.

And defense.

69 Love Songs has 69 love songs and at least 65 of them are really, really good. The anthology of Jorge Luis Borges has a lower success rate, and he had a lifetime to write the same story over and over again. The Fields did it in a couple years. Of course, they're not blind. (AND I HAVE LEGS).

Nor is this a revolutionary disc. It's just solid. The Stereogum poster listed "All My Little Words," "Nothing Matters "When We're Dancing" "No One Will Ever Love You" "Underwear" "When My Boy Walks Down The Street" "The One You Really Love" and "If You Don't Cry" as the instant classics; I know this is a great album because if I were to cursorily choose 8 songs to be called Instant Classics (and I could), I would probably choose about 7 different ones. And you would too. And so would that guy in the jeans over there.

And so would that guy wearing Converses. You understand.

69 Love Songs is sloppy as hell and the sequencing might be non-existent for all I know (I am guessing it is not), but to write SO MANY GOOD songs in such a short time is tremendous. A commenter on Stereogum writes:

69 Love Songs is great, but not my favorite Magnetic Fields (that would be The Charm of the Highway Strip). That aside, I challenge anyone to listen to Punk Love without skipping the song or blowing your brains out.
I challenge anyone to listen Revolution #9 without blowing their [sic] brains out. I challenge anyone to listen to The Murder Mystery without blowing [sic[ their brains out. I challenge anyone to listen to any of the interludes on any Wu-Tang album without blowing their brains out.

And now I challenge anyone to tell me that The White Album, The Velvet Underground, or Enter the Wu-Tang aren't masterpieces. AND I HAVE LEGS

No, the real point is that the Revolution that is the Ninth is unlistenable now and makes up approximately 10% of The White Album, while Punk Love is unlistenable and makes up a little over 1/2 of 1% of 69 Love Songs. So what are we really talking about here?


And then I fell asleep and didn't push "Publish Post." Things happen.

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