1 of 69: It's only fair to tell you/ I'm absolutely cuckoo
Recently a friend of mine sent me the following little missive:
"I only like about 3 of the 69 Love Songs."
I had to read the damn sentence four times in order for it to penetrate my thick, disbelieving skull. Surely I had read it incorrectly? I was baffled, flummoxed, completely bamboozled as to how someone could have any other opinion of the Magnetic Fields magnum opus other than completely outfuckingstanding. Gradually my perplexed mind succumbed to slight case of miffery. How dare anyone hate on Stephin Merritt! My brow furrowed and I may or may not have snorted. But that emotion was silly and short-lived, and quickly faded to my natural fallback state of quiet curiosity and general bemusement which lead to the following question:
"Why do I love 69 Love Songs so much?"
And thus a new blog feature was born. In the coming weeks (and most likely months) I plan on digging through each and every one of those 69 precisely crafted pop songs and waxing a little poetic on one of my favorite albums of all time. I've also devised a scale, or ranking system, less to weed out any possible stumblers, and more to separate out those songs that truly affect me, the ones that really sing, the ones I can't imagine living without. So after a (sometimes not so) brief discussion of each song I'll give it a grade from least enjoyed to most liked:
2. puppy love
3. weak in the knees
And seeing as we all have our own opinions on what composes a great song, feel free to castigate me in the comments for not loving your favorite or for really enjoying something you think is a complete joke. And without further ado...
1/69 "Absolutely Cuckoo"
I don't know about you but I tend to really dig albums that open with a bit of quirk. It is the rare album that can come out guns blazing with the might of a single or knock-out punch caliber song and not make everything that follows feel like an afterthought. Even big serious albums sometimes have a sort of throwaway first song, not that I view 'Cuckoo' as inessential. But it's tone is playful and just barely hinting at the amazingly comprehensive rumination of love that follows on the rest of the album.
There is a bit of self-referentiality here with lines like "Don't fall in love with me yet/ We only recently met/ Give me a week or two to/ Go Absolutely Cuckoo." As in don't judge a book by its cover or an album of 69 (!!!) songs by a single tune that clocks in just over 90 seconds. It presupposes a wealth of good stuff to come but is coy about it, offering up a single warning: "I only tell you this 'cause/ I'm easy to get rid of/ But not if you fall in love" which, as I mentioned far above I have a hard time beliving anyone with even a scrap of a soul could not possibly do after giving this album a listen or three (hundred in my case).
The playfulness is also very reassuring, and adds to the winking title of the project (aka "69 Love Songs") in disarming the worrisome notion that no topic can be as pretentious, overwrought or heavy (in the most perjorative sense) as Love. So why not come running out of the gate with a bit of levity? There's plenty of time for inamorato and "can't live withouts".
I give this song a glowing "weak in the knees" (or 3 out of 6).