23 Love Songs

Abridging the Magnetic Fields's 69 Love Songs to a more managable number is a bit of a cottage industry. Rick Moody's selection of 31 is perhaps the most famous.

Me, I decided to go for 23, in keeping with a friend's claim that there's one album's worth of good songs in the collection. Here they are:

  • Absolutely Cuckoo
  • I Don't Believe In The Sun
  • All My Little Words
  • I Don't Want To Get Over You
  • Come Back From San Francisco
  • The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side
  • I Think I Need A New Heart
  • The Book Of Love
  • Nothing Matters When We're Dancing
  • The Things We Did And Didn't Do
  • When My Boy Walks Down The Street
  • No One Will Ever Love You
  • (Crazy For You But) Not That Crazy
  • Kiss Me Like You Mean It
  • Papa Was A Rodeo
  • Epitaph For My Heart
  • The Sun Goes Down And The World Goes Dancing
  • Busby Berkeley Dreams
  • Acoustic Guitar
  • The Death Of Ferdinand De Saussure
  • Bitter Tears
  • Yeah! Oh, Yeah!
  • The Night You Can't Remember

The first observation that strikes me is that my list has 13 songs in common with Moody's. This is only two or three songs more than you'd expect if one or both of us had chosen our list by throwing darts. So perhaps there is one good album's worth of songs in this triple album but everyone's good album is different.

The other thing that strikes me is that I had a very easy time picking my first dozen songs or so to cut. The utter gimmick songs, the ones with really hideous distorting effects, the spoken-word ones -- all easy choices. At this point, the decisions got harder -- I had a difficult time singling out any particular song as being substantially older or less firm than the rest of the pack.

But once I broke through that barrier, things were very easy for a long time again. Thus, once I cut "Fido, Your Leash is Too Long," I had no compunctions about cutting "Boa Constrictor." It was only in singling out the 24th through 29th songs or so that I had a hard time again. 69 Love Songs really does have a trimodal quality distribution, as my friend asserted. The lumps aren't really even thirds, but there is a fairly natural division into dreams, dross, and dreck.