12 of 69: The Book of Love is Long and Boring/ No One Can Lift the Damn Thing
A fascinating premise: a single book containing everything you ever wanted to know about Love. Every single relationship, the pit-falls to avoid, tried and true methods of landing that perfect person, all the crazy stuff anyone has ever done in It's Name. Some Borgesian mammoth of a text, conceivably infinite in size and scope. A document of humanity, or at least, the better parts of it.
And, of course, it is also the physical record of music. As the singer remarks, "the Book of Love has music in it/ In fact that is where music comes from." We're not just talking 'love music' but music. period. And that's not so unreasonable a theory, right? This song is also a reminder that music can also be read, both in a written form, with the clefs and lines and squiggles and all that, with words or without. And not just 'scanned,' but interpreted. My Book of Love would be filled with chicken scratches lining the margins, copious underlined passages and frequent "No, no no, no, no"s, "ew"s and "You're damn right!"s.
The Book of Love also occupies the center of the first CD of songs. I'm guessing that not everyone purchases all three albums at once, so for many of us, at least for a while, this song operates right at the heart of things. It's a weighty song, both in tone and in meaning, arguably the 'textbook definition' of Stephin's 69LS project. The voice, as always, is gravely and wonderful--as old as the Book of Love itself. I could easily picture this voice narrating the whole thing, droning on and on, and he must have been at this for some time now, because it's getting kind of ragged.
But then there are the beautiful moments, where Stephin sings what might be my favorite line of the whole damn piece:
"I love it when you read to me/
you can read me anything."
It's such a romantic moment, he can't even say it all in one go. He breaks up on the most important word, 'you,' ends up repeating it, doubling its presence, and finally get that single line reading "and you". Another precise distillation of love. What is love? "and you".