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.

On the verses, Claudia Gorson is singing over an ever-cascading parade of spidery guitars and swirling keyboards, but when she hits the chorus, everything changes: the guitars disappear, the keyboards get full and dominating, and the beat solidifies as “Sweet-Lovin’ Man” goes full synth-pop.

For the love of a sweet-lovin’ man
Some have traveled far and wide
Some have given up and died
For the love of a sweet-lovin’ man
Some have broken down and cried
Some have turned to dust inside
But I’ll stay right here and hide
In the arms of my sweet-lovin’ man

And it is glorious. And gets more glorious was it soars higher and higher with every single repetition, climaxing with Gorson repeating “In the arms of my sweet-lovin’ man” over and over until the fade.

69 Love Songs was released on Merge — the indie label run by Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan of Superchunk — and there weren’t any singles, but I can’t help but thinking that, out of all of the 69 Love Songs this might have been the one that would have had a shot at being a hit single, had that been a thing on anybody involved’s radar.

“Sweet-Lovin’ Man”

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