Best Albums of the 00s: 69 Love Songs

69 Love Songs - Magnetic Fields (2000)

The second album in my chronological look back at the decade in music is one that I had overlooked at first as the album was originally released in 1999. However, 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields was only released in the British Isles in the middle of 2000. I had never heard of the band or their music until I read a feature-length interview with Stephin Merritt, the main man behind the band, in a Sunday newspaper magazine supplement. I was so intrigued by the concept of the album that I shelled out around €20 for it a little bit later. It remains one of the few times that I’ve ever paid more than a tenner for an album as I usually buy them in secondhand shops, charity stores or in the sales. I had a feeling that this album wouldn’t turn up in any of these places, so I picked up the only copy I could find when I paid a visit to Dublin that summer. In fact, the whole package wasn’t bad value as the album contains nearly three hours of music on three discs

Even albums with fewer tracks and shorter running times contain a fair bit of filler and songs that won’t get listened to. This is even more true of an album like 69 Love Songs. There are many songs that I don’t like on each disc and that I never listen to any more. That still leaves loads of songs that I do like. Also, the album contains numerous styles and genres of music from pastiches of country, dance, metal, indie and folk to name but a few. However, the biggest influence on the album comes from the classic songwriting and witty lyrics of such songwriters as George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. So, the songs that stood out for me after a number of listens were ones that combined strong melodies with clever lyrics: The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side, The Book of Love, and Papa Was a Rodeo remain favourites for those reasons

The album has already inspired a fair bit of discussion in literary circles and a number of the songs have been covered by the great and the good. LD Beghtol, who played and sang on the album, has contributed to Continuum‘s 33 1/3 series of books that focus on key albums. The author Rick Moody has suggested a list of 31 tracks from the album that would fit onto a single cd. An unofficial companion site exists that collates many more articles and reviews of the album. And a guy named Rusty Spell has put out his own recording of all 69 songs. I’ve included eight more cover versions of songs from the album below


The Book Of Love – Peter Gabriel

Papa Was A Rodeo – Bright Eyes

I Don’t Want To Get Over You – Mary Lou Lord

Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing – The Antlers

The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side – Get Him Eat Him

You And Me And The Moon – This is Ivy League

I Have The Moon – Lush

Yeah Oh Yeah! – Monica Y Carlos

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