Monday, September 29, 2008

"69 lunch songs"

If you've wandered into Flutter in the last two weeks, it's likely you heard either Nick Cave or the Magnetic Fields playing. Since the last two blog posts have praised the former, I'll dedicate this one largely to Stephin Merritt, the genius behind the Magnetic Fields, the Gothic Archies, the 6ths and dozens of other projects. Every time I put on his music it's guaranteed I'll be asked what's playing, and twice I've had people come in and pick up one of the gorgeous accordions and PLAY ALONG to a song! Seriously. The actual accordion player in Magnetic Fields is Lemony Snicket, the writer of the macabre "Series of Unfortunate Events" books. The music is so catchy and amazing, I mean really, really perfect: orchestral swells right where they should be, twangy guitar, soaring whistly synth; it's like he's trying to prove he can make a great pop song from the scraps of any musical genre. The music is what keeps it endlessly engaging, but the lyrics take it to another level of amazing. Some of the songs exactly capture romantic exultation ( "grand pianos crash together when my boy walks down the street"), or they toy with prose or cowboy storytelling. He's written whole songs dedicated to brilliant analogies ("love is like jazz", "love is like a bottle of gin", "a pretty girl is like..."). Most of the songs I referenced above are from the excellent "69 love songs", which is literally that, but the other albums are great, too. In fact, I used to like the other albums more, but the love songs grew on me. They did more than grow on me, they tattooed me. Below is the guitar tablature for "a pretty girl is like...", and you can find more chords and lyrics online. It's such a good feeling to bash out your favorite song, whether in a group or all by your lonesome, and most of them have the same five easy chords. I started printing a binder full of bowie and kinks songs that will keep me entertained for a long time. Another fun thing is to replace the word "love" with "lunch" in a song. You can sing hits like "tainted lunch", "the back of lunch", "all is full of lunch", "our lunch is alive", "i want your lunch"... endlessly amusing, yeah?

- sara kolp

A Pretty Girl is Like...

G Am

G:320033 Am:002210
A pretty girl is like a minstrel show
It makes you laugh
It makes you cry
You go
It just isn't the same on radio

C:032010 G C
It's all about the makeup and the dancing

and the Oh,
a pretty girl is like a violent crime
If you do it wrong you could do time
but if you do it right it is sublime

Am C
so in love with you, girl,
it's like I'm on the moon
I can't really breathe, but I feel lighter
A melody is like a pretty girl
Who cares if it's
the dumbest in the world
It's all about the way that it unfurls
Am G
A pretty girl is like a pretty girl


Cindy said...

oh yes Sara...I agree Stephin Merritt is quite the song writing genious. The Charm of the Highway took me by storm some years back and I adore 69 love songs. His little jingles are quite the antithesis to Nick, but equally as brilliant. We even adopted 69 Love Songs as our Christmas album at Flutter a few years sure beat Bing Crosby! I'm afraid now I will always have lunch in my head.

Susan said...

The Charm of the Highway is the perfect album for driving across the country. Wistful, weary and dusty feeling. Love the Fields, I have to say my favorite song is 'Epitaph for my Heart' and well, I also love 'Promises of Eternity'.

Love the Magnetic Fields!