Tuesday, September 7, 1999

Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs released

Last updated 11/19/2020.

69 Love Songs

Magnetic Fields

Released: September 7, 1999

Peak: -- US, 170 UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: indie pop/alternative rock

Disc 1: 1. Absolutely Cuckoo 2. I Don’t Believe in the Sun 3. All My Little Words 4. A Chicken with Its Head Cut Off 5. Reno Dakota 6. I Don’t Want to Get Over You 7. Come Back from San Francisco 8. The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side 9. Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits 10. The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be 11. I Think I Need a New Heart 12. The Book of Love 13. Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long 14. How Fucking Romantic 15. The One You Really Love 16. Punk Love 17. Parades Go By 18. Boa Constrictor 19. A Pretty Girl Is Like... 20. My Sentimental Melody 21. Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing 22. Sweet-Lovin’ Man 23. The Things We Did and Didn’t Do

Disc 2: 1. Roses 2. Love Is Like Jazz 3. When My Boy Walks Down the Street 4. Time Enough for Rocking When We’re Old 5. Very Funny 6. Grand Canyon 7. No One Will Ever Love You 8. If You Don’t Cry 9. You’re My Only Home 10. (Crazy for You But) Not That Crazy 11. My Only Friend 12. Promises of Eternity 13. World Love 14. Washington, D.C. 15. Long-Forgotten Fairytale 16. Kiss Me Like You Mean It 17. Papa Was a Rodeo 18. Epitaph for My Heart 19. Asleep and Dreaming 20. The Sun Goes Down and the World Goes Dancing 21. The Way You Say Good-Night 22. Abigail, Belle of Kilronan 23. I Shatter

Disc 3: 1. Underwear 2. It’s a Crime 3. Busby Berkeley Dreams 4. I’m Sorry I Love You 5. Acoustic Guitar 6. The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure 7. Love in the Shadows 8. Bitter Tears 9. Wi’ Nae Wee Bairn Ye’ll Me Beget 10. Yeah! Oh, Yeah! 11. Experimental Music Love 12. Meaningless 13. Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin 14. Queen of the Savages 15. Blue You 16. I Can’t Touch You Anymore 17. Two Kinds of People 18. How to Say Goodbye 19. The Night You Can’t Remember 20. For We Are the King of the Boudoir 21. Strange Eyes 22. Xylophone Track 23. Zebra

Total Running Time: 172:03


4.514 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


About the Album:

“As the sprawling magnitude of its cheeky title suggests, 69 Love Songs is Stephin Merritt’s most ambitious as well as most fully realized work to date, a three-disc epic of classically chiseled pop songs that explore both the promise and pitfalls of modern romance through the jaundiced eye of an irredeemable misanthrope. A true A-to-Z catalog of touchingly bittersweet love songs that runs the gamut from tender ballads to pithy folk tunes to bluesy vamps, the sheer scope of the record allows all of Merritt’s musical personas to converge – the regular use of guest vocalists recalls his work as the 6ths, the romantic fatalism suggests the Gothic Archies project, and the stately melodies evoke the Future Bible Heroes.” JA

“The album was originally conceived as a music revue. Stephin Merritt was sitting in a gay piano bar in Manhattan, listening to the pianist’s interpretations of Stephen Sondheim songs, when he decided he ought to get into theatre music because he felt he had an aptitude for it. ‘I decided I’d write one hundred love songs as a way of introducing myself to the world. Then I realized how long that would be. So I settled on sixty-nine. I’d have a theatrical revue with four drag queens. And whoever the audience liked best at the end of the night would get paid.’” WK

“The variety of 69 Love Songs also derives from the many song genres that Merritt raids and filters through his own sensibility. Merritt has said ‘69 Love Songs is not remotely an album about love. It’s an album about love songs, which are very far away from anything to do with love.’ Some of the genres are obvious, as in the songs Punk Love, Love Is Like Jazz, World Love and Wi’ Nae Wee Bairn Ye’ll Me Beget.” WK

“Other songs indirectly reference some of Merritt’s favorite artists, including Fleetwood Mac (No One Will Ever Love You), Cole Porter (Zebra), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits), The Jesus and Mary Chain (When My Boy Walks Down the Street), Billie Holiday (My Only Friend), and Irving Berlin (A Pretty Girl is Like...).

“Another way of understanding 69 Love Songs is through Merritt’s praise of an artist (Laurie Anderson) who ‘write[s] heartbreaking melodies with words that make fun of heartbreaking melodies.’ Consider Yeah! Oh, Yeah! where Stephin and Claudia, playing jilted lovers modeled closely on Sonny & Cher, sing their complaints to one another, overplaying and overstating their grievances such that their words become garish declarations of woe (‘what a dark and dreary life / are you reaching for a knife?’) to which the other character isn’t really capable of responding but must still follow in tone (‘yeah, oh yeah’). The lack of a firm distinction between content (what is sung) and form (the way it is sung) implies that this couple lives and dies by virtue of how persuasively they can sing to one another, and illustrates the persistent Magnetic Fields songwriting device of trapping a character within the conventions or formalities of a genre.” WK

“Several of the songs bend genders as well as genres. For example: a man sings ‘He’s going to be my wife’ (‘When My Boy Walks Down the Street’) and ‘the princess there is me’ (Long-Forgotten Fairytale). Other common themes include place names (e.g. Washington, DC; Lower East Side; North Carolina; Paris; Venice), animals (e.g. bear, goldfish, jellyfish, rabbit, bat, dog, boa constrictor, cockroach), as well as themes common throughout Merritt’s work (e.g. the moon, dancing, rain, and eyes).” WK

“Naturally, given a project of this size there’s the occasional bit of filler, but all in all, 69 Love Songs maintains a remarkable consistency throughout, and the highlights (I Don’t Believe in the Sun, All My Little Words, Asleep and Dreaming, Busby Berkeley Dreams, and Acoustic Guitar, to name just a few) are jaw-droppingly superb.” JA

“The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts, however – for all of Merritt’s scathing wit and icy detachment, there’s a depth and sensitivity to these songs largely absent from his past work, and each one of these 69 tracks approaches l’amour from refreshing angles, galvanizing the love song form with rare sophistication and elegance.” JA “Despite its three-hour length, the music boasts the craftsmanship and economy that remain the hallmarks of classic American pop songwriting, a tradition Merritt upholds even as he subverts the formula in new and brilliant ways.” JA

Notes: This was also released as three separate albums.

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