69 Love Songs

Article

May 25, 2022

69 Love Songs is a triple album released by the American pop group The Magnetic Fields in 1999, originally released in the United States in three separate parts then soon grouped into a single box set. It is a concept album containing 69 different songs dedicated to the theme of love. 69 Love Songs is considered the masterpiece of Stephin Merritt's band, as well as one of the best albums of the decade.

Composition and publication

69 Love Songs was composed by Merritt during the second half of the nineties, when he lived in New York and worked for Time Out magazine. Originally, the album was supposed to contain 100 songs. However, after thinking that a hundred songs were too many, Merritt decided to reduce their number to 69 (a number that provocatively alludes to the well-known sexual position). 69 Love Songs first came out on three separate discs, and later collected in a single box set. A European edition of the album was also released in 2000.

Description

Ambitious concept album on the theme of love, which is approached by Merritt with a mixture of admiration and distrust, 69 Love Songs consists of three discs containing 23 tracks each for a total of 69 songs. Despite their simplicity, the pieces draw on the entire history of popular music, and confirm Merritt's passion for the American composers of Motown, Tin Pan Alley, and the Brill Building such as, for example, Rodgers and Hart, Holland-Dozier. -Holland, Burt Bacharach, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin. According to some, the tracks on the triple album refer to William Shakespeare's love sonnets. The sometimes melancholy and sometimes breezy tracks of 69 Love Songs range from rock (When My Boy Walks Down the Street), to country rock (I Don't Want to Get Over You), to electronics (Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long, It's a Crime), punk (Punk Love), jazz (Love Is Like Jazz), avant-garde music (Love in the Shadows, Experimental Music Love), a cappella music (How Fucking Romantic), dream pop (Yeah! Oh Yeah!), to country-gospel (Kiss Me Like You Mean It), to ballad (The Book of Love, I Don't Believe In The Sun, Very Funny, Busby Berkeley Dreams), to folk American (All My Little Words, Grand Canyon, Papa Was a Rodeo), and Scottish (Wi 'Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget). The album pays homage to Serge Gainsbourg (My Sentimental Melody), Morrissey (The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure), and Smile's Beach Boys (Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits). To create 69 Love Songs, Merritt used a variety of instrumentation, including guitars of various types, ukulele, banjo, piano, flute, toy instruments, and analog equipment.

Reception

Although its length has surprised the specialists several times, 69 Love Songs is considered the masterpiece of the entire discography of Merritt, and among the best pop albums of the nineties. It also appears in several books dedicated to the best popular music records. Stereogum's Tom Breihan appreciates the "intellectual power" that the album's songs convey, and calls their lyrics "intelligent"; he further argues that it may be the only album that will remain beautiful even if the order of its tracks is changed. The reviewer says he especially appreciates the tracks Papa Was a Rodeo, I Think I Need a New Heart and I'm Sorry I Love You. Despite this, Breihan believes that it also contains "unlistenable" tracks such as Punk Rock Love, Love Is Like Jazz, and Xylophone Track. The concept is also reviewed positively by Tom Moon, according to whom the "key pieces" of 69 Love Songs are I'm Sorry I Love You, If You Don't Cry, I Don't Want To Get Over You, and Very Funny. Paste argues that, although it features some unsuccessful or unsuccessful songs, the album is a "dazzling kaleidoscope of pop and Americana, a veritable queer (or at least