Monday, August 24, 2009

Music Learning. Round 1: 69 Love Songs (ALBUM)

69 Love Songs is a three-volume concept album
by The Magnetic Fields
released in 1999.
As its title indicates, the album is composed of 69 love songs
all written by Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt.

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.

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."

Other songs indirectly reference some of Merritt's favourite artists, including Fleetwood Mac[1] ("No One Will Ever Love You") , Cole Porter ("Zebra"), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the DarkThe Jesus and Mary Chain ("Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits"), ("When My Boy Walks Down the Street"), Billie Holiday ("My Only Friend"), and Irving Berlin ("A Pretty Girl is Like...").
*yay! learned something new. awesome something new learning. amazing, a happy-making fact learning at its best.
** i can't wait to re-listen to these tunes with the newfound understanding of the influences in mind

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 modelled 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.

Q: why is stephin merritt AMAZING?
A: Below are the credits for the album(s)

(note the beautifully overwhelming size of the list indicating 'instruments played' by Merritt on the album. unreal.)
(the fact that a list is required is extraordinary to begin with)
Stephin Merritt vocals, Digitech vocalist, Roland harmonizer, vocoder, ukulele, baritone ukelele, Kaholas ukelele, Admira classical, acoustic-electric 12-string guitar, lap steel, fado guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, autoharp, Marxophone, ukelin, tremeloa, violin-uke, sitar, zither, violin, musical saw, keyboards, synclavier, Moog Satellite, piano, harmonium, Wurlitzerorgan, rhythm units, recorder, ocarina, pennywhistle, Maestro wind synthesizer, Hohner melodica, Paul Revere jug, rumba box, xylophone, kalimbas, Radio Shackdrum kit, cymbals, rain stick, chimera, maracas, conga, bongos, triangle, bells, tambourine, washboard, steel drum, Chicken Shakers, finger cymbals, springs and Slinkypipes, bamboo harp, spirit chaser, sleighbell, fingersnaps, thunder sheet,
cabasas, cowbells, gong electronic piano, 75-in-One Project Kit,
I don't think I've ever seen, or ever will again see ONE person credited for playing that many instruments one one work.
oh wait! thats not true, re: Brian Wilson and Paul Mccartney. case & point. talented enough to join the

(i'm curious as to whether or not there are even any other instance documenting one person responsible for playing that sizable a number of instruments on ONE album (release).)

(there must be. yay!NEW INTERVESTIGATION!
If there are, I must find out what album, when, who, how, and how many.
Results of research to come

(i wonder if there is Guiness World Record for that. There must be. Also update to come.)

69 Love Songs, A Field Guide (i get it! took long enough. a FIELD guide. wittay.)
LD Beghtol's review of 69 love Songs (released December 15, 2006. Continuum International Publishsing Group. As part of the 33⅓ series of books on influential pop/rock albums.
The book includes studio anecdotes, an extensive annotated lexicon of words and phrases culled from the album's lyrics, performance notes from the performers and friends of the band, full-album shows in New York, Boston, and London, rare and unpublished images, and other items such as a crossword puzzle, and a list of academic cant words not otherwise used in Beghtol's book.

listen to peter gabriel's book of love. SO PRETTY.

Standalone player

notes to self:
1. research guiness records for random album facts
2. research albums with most instruments/parts credited to any one person
3. let you all know whatup with that
4. listen to some mag fields


that's not all:
This site is an unofficial companion piece to the triple album 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields. It focuses on each of the songs on the album, providing background information on source materials, lyrical references, musical tropes and influences.
The heart of the site is the series of pages devoted to each song: use the navigation on the left to view songs in Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3, or via the list of all songs (alphabetical). See the site map for a full overview of the site.

33⅓ (Thirty-Three and a Third) is a series of books written about music albums, featuring one author per album.
The series title refers to the speed (33⅓ revolutions per minute) of an LP album.
Rest assured, i will publish the 'k's-notes' for this article & subsequent wiki's (which in this case, i foresee MANY re: further reserach on my favourite albums covered in the series. I bet there are exerpts/hilites on wikimedia, or wikiquote. Oh shit/whoneeds sleep anyway? Intersomnia

Merritt suffers from a hearing condition known as hyperacusis; any sound heard louder than normal begins to "feedback" in his left ear at increasingly louder volumes. This has largely influenced the reserved live setup of The Magnetic Fields, which usually consists of acoustic instruments and little to no percussion. Merritt also wears earplugs during performances, and typically covers his left ear if the audience applauds.
Heartbreaking. Stephin Merritt is one of the most heartbreaking victims. What an asshole (God?). Crime against humanity. meanwhile (i'm an asshole) there are more than enough musicians who make music thats could be considered a crime against humanity, whod be doing us a favour in losing their hearing/ability to make music.


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