Monday, November 10, 2008

Music Monday/Lyric Lundi

I remember in college when we were reading Lolita, we discussed the whole idea of the love story and parody and irony as they related to the book. Our T.A. threw out the idea that no one wants to read a perfect love story, that it would be too boring, that love stories need tension, misunderstandings, uncertainty. They need to be imperfect, even if they have happy endings. At the time, being young and even more idealistic than I am now (if you can believe that), I remember thinking, “Oh no. I DO want to read a perfect love story.” (I’m sure I was reeling from what I thought were all my own imperfect love stories up to that point and not yet ready to admit that perfection didn’t lie just around the corner somewhere, still attainable.)


These days, of course, I completely agree. I no more want to read a love story that's perfect from beginning to end than I want to hear about the perfect parent-child relationship (in which there is no fighting or rebellion, and everyone moves blissfully into adult friendships when the time comes) or the people who bought the perfect home (not the one I would buy, you know, whose water tank springs a million pin-hole leaks the day I move in, and whose back deck collapses) or adopted the perfect pet (the one that automatically knows its name and doesn't even have to be trained to come when it's called and that housebreaks itself). I want stories that are human, ones to which I can relate. And, yes, "boring" is probably the most appropriate word for a perfect love story. I'd probably stop reading before I was too far into it (although I certainly don’t mind if a non-perfect story ends up all – realistically. You know, they stay together, but they still squabble over who has to go get the newspaper every morning and whose turn it is to empty the cat’s litter box – happy in the end).


A colleague of mine introduced me to The Magnetic Fields a few years ago. She lent me 69 Love Songs Vol. 1. I listened to it, fell in love with its quirkiness (which for some reason reminded me a bit of The Jazz Butcher from the 1980s), and immediately purchased the boxed set that included Vol. 1, 2, and 3. I love so many, many of the songs on these three CDs, but the lyrics to this one get me every time. They tie in so well with the notion of perfect love stories being boring. How could a reader not love them? I mean, who would want to read the boring book of love? Then again, who wouldn’t? Especially when it includes music (invented here. I just love it!) and flowers and dancing and, most especially, if the love of your life were reading it to you, sitting by the fire, and you were both sipping red wine from beautiful glasses and eating chocolate. The song is so clever, so true, so cynical, and yet so romantic. See what you think.


The Book of Love by The Magnetic Fields


The book of love is long and boring

No one can lift the damn thing

It’s full of charts and facts and figures

And instructions for dancing

but I

I love it when you read to me

and you

you can read me anything.

The book of love has music in it

In fact that’s where music comes from

Some of it is just transcendental

Some of it is just really dumb

but I

I love it when you sing to me

and you

you can sing me anything.

The book of love is long and boring

and written very long ago

It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes

and things we’re all too young to know

but I

I love it when you give me things

and you

you ought to give me wedding rings.

I

I love it when you give me things

and you

you ought to give me wedding rings.

6 comments:

Pete said...

I just found this at YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox6aHGmfxB8

I liked it - funny, cynical and the right sort of sentimental.

Pete said...

Me again. Check out the Peter Gabrial version at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywsvxgmb1zs&feature=related
The visuals are from Pride and Prejudice and are pretty cute.

Courtney said...

I love how your posts, and the posts of others each Monday, are expanding my music knowledge and adding to my "to be listened to" list! This group sounds right up my alley - I'll be checking it out soon. In Oprah parlance, Music Lyric Monday is one of my New Favorite Things.
Have a wonderful time this weekend. I am so depressed I'm not joining you all...

Emily Barton said...

Oooh, Pete, thanks so much for the links. Never knew Peter Gabriel had done a cover.

Court, me too. It's been great to share music the way we share books, no? I can't believe it took me so long to come up with this idea. As I've said before, but it's worth repeating: you will be SORELY missed on Saturday.

knitseashore said...

I love the lyrics! Must check out this group. I need new music for the iPod.

sarawithnoh said...

I love new music!