Sunday, September 7, 2014

69 love songs

The Magnetic Fields rewrote the book of love with the kaleidoscopic musical ambition of this revisionist romantic revue.   Drawing from such diverse styles as tin pan alley, blues, punk, jazz, folk, country, gospel, electronica, experimental, and world music to create a panopoly of perspectives on l'amour, the triple album opus approaches the subject with a world weary wit and touching tenderness that is totally unique.  

Songwriter Stephen Merritt explains in the liner notes: "I didn't think of them all at the same time.  First I thought of the idea...I had been thinking it would be a good idea to get into the world of musicals, and probably easiest to get into it through a revue of songs...And I thought, well, what do I have that nobody else can do that I can turn into a revue - well, i write pretty good love songs.  Nobody else is writing modern love songs.  First I thought of it as a revue of 100 love songs, just because 100 means a lot of things.  It means a large amount, and it's a nice round number that implies manufacturing or a batch of something.  Then I realized that just at two minutes a song, 100 love songs would be 200 minutes long which is hours and hours and no one would want to sit through a revue like that, however good it was...The original idea was to have the singers be drag queens or nonsingers, some way of making it more entertaining than using four singers taking turns singing songs.  I thought it could be a competition...My mother talked me out of that one.  She disapproved very strongly...The next lowest number that had another relevant meaning was 69, which I chose as much for its graphic possibilities as its obvious relation to romance."    

'69 Love Songs' features The Magnetic Fields quartet of          Stephin Merritt on vocals, Digitech vocalist, Roland harmonizer, vocoder, ukulele, baritone ukulele, Kaholas ukulele, Admira classical, acoustic-electric 12-string guitar, lap steel, fado guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, autoharp, Marxophone, ukelin, tremoloa, violin-uke, sitar, zither, violin, musical saw, keyboards, synclavier, Moog Satellite, piano, harmonium, Wurlitzer electronic piano, organ, rhythm units, recorder, ocarina, pennywhistle, Maestro wind synthesizer, Hohner melodica, Paul Revere jug, rumba box, xylophone, kalimbas, Radio Shack 75-in-One Project Kit, drum kit, cymbals, rain stick, chimera, maracas, conga, bongos, triangle, bells, tambourine, washboard, steel drum, Chicken Shakers, finger cymbals, springs and Slinky guitar, pipes, bamboo harp, spirit chaser, sleighbells, fingersnaps, thunder sheet, cabasas, cowbells, and gong;               Sam Davol on cello and flute;              Claudia Gonson on piano; drums; percussion; lead vocals on "Reno Dakota", "Sweet-Lovin' Man", "If You Don't Cry", "Washington, D.C.", "Acoustic Guitar", and "Zebra"; other backing vocals; duet with Merritt and guitar on "Yeah! Oh, Yeah!"; arrangement on "Very Funny", "World Love", and "Busby Berkeley Dreams"; whistling on "Blue You";       and         John Woo on banjo, lead guitar, mandolin, and bass on "Time Enough for Rocking When We're Old";                with       LD Beghtol on harmonium on "Xylophone Track", lead vocals on "All My Little Words", "My Sentimental Melody", "Roses", "The Way You Say Good-Night", "Bitter Tears", and "For We Are the King of the Boudoir;" duet with Merritt on "The One You Really Love"; other backing vocals; and graphic design of box and book;              Chris Ewen on backing tracks and arrangement on "Promises of Eternity" and "It's a Crime", plus theremin on "Blue You";              Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) on accordion, keyboards, and arrangement on "Asleep and Dreaming";          Dudley Klute on lead vocals on "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side", "How Fucking Romantic", "My Sentimental Melody", "Very Funny", "Long-Forgotten Fairytale", "It's a Crime", and "Blue You;" duet with Merritt on "Underwear;" and other backing vocals;              Ida Pearle on violin on "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side";           Shirley Simms on duet with Merritt on "Papa Was a Rodeo", vocals on "Come Back from San Francisco", "Boa Constrictor", "No One Will Ever Love You", "Kiss Me Like You Mean It", "I'm Sorry I Love You", and "Strange Eyes;" and other backing vocals.   

The sessions took place at Polar West, Mother West, Polar Mother, and Sonics.  '69 Love Songs' was produced and engineered by Stephin Merritt with additional engineering by Jon Berman,  Chris Ewen,  Claudia Gonson,  Eric Masunaga,  and Charles Newman;     and mastering by Jeff Lipton.  All songs were written and composed by Stephin Merritt. 


"All My Little Words"

"I Don't Want to Get Over You"

"Reno Dakota"

"The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side"

"Sweet-Lovin' Man"


"Busby Berkeley Dreams"

"Papa Was a Rodeo"

'69 Love Songs'
full album:

Volume one

1. "Absolutely Cuckoo"   Stephin Merritt 1:34
2. "I Don't Believe in the Sun"   Merritt 4:16
3. "All My Little Words"   LD Beghtol 2:46
4. "A Chicken with Its Head Cut Off"   Merritt 2:41
5. "Reno Dakota"   Claudia Gonson 1:05
6. "I Don't Want to Get Over You"   Merritt 2:22
7. "Come Back from San Francisco"   Shirley Simms 2:48
8. "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side"   Dudley Klute 3:43
9. "Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits"   Merritt 2:25
10. "The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be"   Merritt 1:11
11. "I Think I Need a New Heart"   Merritt 2:32
12. "The Book of Love"   Merritt 2:42
13. "Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long"   Merritt 2:33
14. "How Fucking Romantic"   Klute 0:58
15. "The One You Really Love"   Merritt 2:53
16. "Punk Love"   Merritt 0:58
17. "Parades Go By"   Merritt 2:56
18. "Boa Constrictor"   Simms 0:58
19. "A Pretty Girl Is Like..."   Merritt 1:50
20. "My Sentimental Melody"   Beghtol 3:07
21. "Nothing Matters When We're Dancing"   Merritt 2:27
22. "Sweet-Lovin' Man"   Gonson 4:59
23. "The Things We Did and Didn't Do"   Merritt 2:11

Volume two

1. "Roses"   Beghtol 0:27
2. "Love Is Like Jazz"   Merritt 2:56
3. "When My Boy Walks Down the Street"   Merritt 2:38
4. "Time Enough for Rocking When We're Old"   Merritt 2:03
5. "Very Funny"   Klute 1:26
6. "Grand Canyon"   Merritt 2:28
7. "No One Will Ever Love You"   Simms 3:14
8. "If You Don't Cry"   Gonson 3:06
9. "You're My Only Home"   Merritt 2:17
10. "(Crazy for You But) Not That Crazy"   Merritt 2:18
11. "My Only Friend"   Merritt 2:01
12. "Promises of Eternity"   Merritt 3:46
13. "World Love"   Merritt 3:07
14. "Washington, D.C."   Gonson 1:53
15. "Long-Forgotten Fairytale"   Klute 3:37
16. "Kiss Me Like You Mean It"   Simms 2:00
17. "Papa Was a Rodeo"   Merritt, Simms 5:01
18. "Epitaph for My Heart"   Merritt 2:50
19. "Asleep and Dreaming"   Merritt 1:53
20. "The Sun Goes Down and the World Goes Dancing"   Merritt 2:46
21. "The Way You Say Good-Night"   Beghtol 2:44
22. "Abigail, Belle of Kilronan"   Merritt 2:00
23. "I Shatter"   Merritt 3:09

Volume three

1. "Underwear"   Merritt 2:49
2. "It's a Crime"   Klute 3:54
3. "Busby Berkeley Dreams"   Merritt 3:36
4. "I'm Sorry I Love You"   Simms 3:06
5. "Acoustic Guitar"   Gonson 2:37
6. "The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure"   Merritt 3:10
7. "Love in the Shadows"   Merritt 2:54
8. "Bitter Tears"   Beghtol 2:51
9. "Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget"   Merritt 1:55
10. "Yeah! Oh, Yeah!"   Merritt, Gonson 2:19
11. "Experimental Music Love"   Merritt 0:29
12. "Meaningless"   Merritt 2:08
13. "Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin"   Merritt 1:46
14. "Queen of the Savages"   Merritt 2:12
15. "Blue You"   Klute 3:03
16. "I Can't Touch You Anymore"   Merritt 3:05
17. "Two Kinds of People"   Merritt 1:10
18. "How to Say Goodbye"   Merritt 2:48
19. "The Night You Can't Remember"   Merritt 2:17
20. "For We Are the King of the Boudoir"   Beghtol 1:14
21. "Strange Eyes"   Simms 2:01
22. "Xylophone Track"   Merritt 2:47
23. "Zebra"   Gonson 2:15

live in Somerville, MA  (I was there!)

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