Archive | December, 2017

Certain Songs #1081: Low – “Just Like Christmas”

Album: Christmas
Year: 1999

I love this song so much, I almost wrote it back in September when I was doing all of the other Low songs, but figured I’d save it for Christmas Eve instead. So here we are.

And while the lyrics suggest it might not be a Christmas song (the actual time of year is left vague), there is absolutely no doubt that it’s just a like a Christmas song, especially because it’s the lead track on a record called “Christmas.”

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Certain Songs #1080: The Magnetic Fields – “The Death of Ferdinand De Saussure”

Album: 69 Love Songs
Year: 1999

Since Ferdinand De Saussure died in 1913, the murder confessed to in the amazing second verse of this song probably didn’t happen.

He was a linguist who was a great contributor to what is called semiotics which — I think, cos I’m trying to boil this down from several wiki articles — is all about the relationship between a word (the signifier) and what it means (the signified). In Saussure’s mind, that relationship was completely arbitrary.

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Certain Songs #1079: The Magnetic Fields – “Papa Was A Rodeo”

Album: 69 Love Songs
Year: 1999

So, I was late to the 69 Love Songs party. I didn’t actually get it until the next year: months after it came out. I think at the time, everything I’d read about The Magnetic Fields indicated to me that I probably wouldn’t like them, even as 69 Love Songs became critically acclaimed. But you can’t hear everything.

So getting it was an accident: it was either a birthday or going-away present from a guy at work. And immediately became obsessed with figuring out what each of the 69 (nice!) songs was on about. Even then, it took me quite some time to hear the epicness of “Papa Was a Rodeo.”

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Certain Songs #1078: The Magnetic Fields – “Sweet-Lovin’ Man”

Album: 69 Love Songs
Year: 1999

It was hard to figure out which songs on the 69 Love Songs to write about. For example, I almost wrote about the short, pointed “Reno Dakota” for this hilarious couplet: “it’s making me blue / Pantone 292.” I was also hard to skip the wistful “Come Back From San Francisco,” the witty “The Book of Love” and the wise “Parades Go By.”

But there was absolutely never any doubt that I was going to write about the effusive “Sweet-Lovin Man,” one of the purest of all of the 69 (nice!) love songs that Stephin Merrit wrote for the album.

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Certain Songs #1077: The Magnetic Fields – “All My Little Words”

Album: 69 Love Songs
Year: 1999

Arriving just as the old millennium came crashing into the new, the complete and utter audacity of 69 Love Songs made it into one of the last big pop events of that millennium.

The concept was right there in the title of the record: 69 (nice!) love — or love-adjacent — songs spread equally over three discs. A completely pure manifestation of the Ross The Boss motto that quantity was quality, it didn’t even matter if 69 Love Songs was chock full of filler, experiments, bad lyrics, and complete misfires.

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