Friday, June 19, 2009

11 of 69: Cause I always say I love you / When I mean turn out the light

"I think I Need a New Heart"

Human beings rarely say what they mean. That in itself is sort of a meaningless statement--through the 'duh' factor of how obvious it is. Of course we don't say what we mean. Language is too sloppy and evasive and full of multiple meanings. Even the most careful and taciturn among us slip up sometimes. What I find interesting though is when people purposefully say the wrong thing for the right reasons or vice versa.

If a person is psychologically exhausted from a long day of work, has possibly fought a bit with their significant other during the day (but things are good now) and is just tired of further conversation and they say "I love you" they may very well mean "Please turn out the light (I want to go to sleep)." But that "I love you" still functions the way the person intends it--most of the time. If the other person is kind, or intuitive enough, they'll respond with a "I love you too," and *click* off goes the lights. Simply asking the person to "Turn off the light" would be the honest route, but also the one most fraught with peril. If the significant other is still fuming, that's the last thing they want to hear. If they are in the middle of a story or anecdote about their day that they feel is very important, and you blurt out "Turn out the light," you sure as hell better believe that the light is staying on.

And that's just the domestic reading of that couplet. I think the actual lyric refers more plainly to 'If I tell you that I love you then we'll end up having sex.' But is this more or less duplicitous? It's certainly selfish and unfair, but does the other person really not know what they are getting?

I think its wonderful that the narrator can only speak the truth in song. It's pretty much the thesis statement of 69LS. Forget everything the singer is actually telling their lover, their real message is in the song "I Think I Need a New Heart" which just so happens to be this song. If 69LS is an album of love songs about love songs, then this is its heart. Odd (or maybe perfectly apropos?) that this heart needs replacing.

Grade: "Adoration" (5 of 6)

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Friday, June 12, 2009

10 of 69: The Cactus Where Your heart Should be / Has Lovely Little Flowers

"The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be"

Alright, time to man up and get back on this project. My competitor is gearing up to lap me. Although to be fair, my discussions of the 69LS have like, paragraphs and stuff, whereas hers are twitter-esque in their succintity. Anyhow, on to my tenth entry in what increasingly appears to be a Summer long quest to pick apart the Mag Fields magnum opus.

"Cactus" coming right on the heals of "Bunnies" packs a helluva a one-two punch. The playful randiness of the previous song (where our protagonists are content to roll around in the hay all day--let's disregard the 'furries' undertone) is supplanted by a downright cranky guy who is refreshingly equal parts wistful. This is just another example of how strategic the 69 songs are arranged. And disparate pairings like this have the effect of augmenting each partner's salient features. you know, like a collage. or a really nice BLT.

At first blush, a cactus doesn't seem like a particularly attractive vehicle in a metaphor for love. Rather simplistic, no? It's spiky and forbidding. If your heart was a cactus, well, you wouldn't be attracting to many mates. But this short song is overflowing with unexpected connotations. Leave it to Merritt to remind us that just like any other forbidding plants, cacti produce incredibly beautiful flowers. And thus the singer can be both 'stuck' on their love object's spines and completely enamored of her "lovely little flowers."

And when the cactus becomes less a person and more a person's heart all kinds of nice lines of thought can be drawn. A cactus is one tough customer, built to thrive in a harsh environment. It can go long periods of time without nourishment. It defends itself with princkly spines but can also be quite grand and statuesque. "Cactus" the song doesn't cite these possible meanings, but they are there, and suddenly a heart as a cactus isn't all that far-fetched. It's actually pretty damn wonderful.

A surprisingly powerful little song. Grade: "Adoration" (4 out of 6)

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Monday, June 08, 2009

9 of 69: Let Abbots, Babbitts and Cabots / Say Mother Nature is Wrong

"Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits"

Not to put too fine a point on things but this song is about fucking.

After a few days of combing through the lyrics of 69LS I decided to cut short what may be a fool's errand to document any all usage of or allusions to sex. If my basic knowledge of Freud proves in any way accurate, if you look hard enough, you'll find sex everywhere. So hopefully the list that follows chronicles only the most overt references. Anyhow, and away we go:

"Putting folks on the moon"
"Have an affair"
"Stars exploding in the night"
"Making you feel like a woman"
"A tryst"
"I've had him before"
"Two fireflies Fluoresce"
"The same song a million times in different ways"
"Do it"
"The things we did and didn't do"
"The way you say goodnight"
"See(ing) God"
"One night stand"
"Things we're all too young to know"
Any time "Dancing" is mentioned.
"Make love"
"Spinning like a gyroscope"
"Feeding your bear"
"The night you can't remember, the night I can't forget"
"Make things dark"
"I miss doing the wild thing with you"
"Cried out"
"Electric eels under the covers"
"You flew"
"Until you've had sweet lovin' there's no lovin' worth the name"
"I made you mine"
"You'll be the Pope"
"A twirl"

drumroll please...

"Let's pretend we're bunny rabbits/
Let's do it all day long"

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Monday, June 01, 2009

8 of 69: I Only keep this Heap for You

"Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side"

Saving Graces.

You've just spend an entire weekend enjoying the gorgeous late Spring weather and then Monday rolls around and demands you return to work. Inside. In a basement. The saving grace? The second you step in the old stone structure the sky opens up and it's raining dogs and cats. So what happens if the girl you like just so happens to be a big hit with the menfolk, could theoretically be with anyone up to and including professor Blumen (who alledgedly makes her feel like a woman) and you aren't exactly doing so well in the looks department? Relax. Everything is okay. After all you're the luckiest guy on the lower east side. You've got wheels and she wants to go for a ride.

"Luckiest Guy", for me, is the first game changer on 69LS. If the album were boiled down to a dozen or so essential songs, this would be on the ballot for sure. It's beautifully simple if not offering the deeper registers of meaning like some of the others that came before it. It's merely the tale of a dude with a busted mug, the girl he loves and the rusted heap he hangs on to just for her.

It strikes me these kids are young and poor. Maybe its just in his head, but I doubt that any of the many guys buzzing around the object of the singer's affections are actually astronomers or buying her expensive gowns. Andy, bicycling across town in the rain just to bring her candy seems much more likely. And even if that guy pedaling through puddles is a regular Don Juan, you're the only one (for the moment) who can make the wind blow through her hair and laugh like a little girl. Yeah, maybe there's no chance for anything more, but sometimes the laughter of the pretty girl in the bucket seat next to yours is enough.

grade: "Infatuation" (5 out of 6)

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