Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs

Another of the books we’ll be publishing towards the end of this year – let’s say October, but who really knows for sure – is LD Beghtol’s ‘field guide’ to 69 Love Songs. And that’s basically what LD’s book is – a field guide. It begins with an extensive A-Z lexicon of words, terms, and phrases that crop up on the album (from “Clove cigarettes” to “Charo”), and continues with a song-by-song guide, one example of which appears below. (Don’t worry – the book does explain who the participants are…)

It’s the first book in the series to be written by someone involved in making the album in question, so if you’re looking for critical detachment, you may wish to look elsewhere. But if you’re a big fan of 69 Love Songs, this should be quite a treat.


2.14 “Washington, D.C.” Claudia
1:53min, G major, 4/4 (190bpm)
Genre: Chamber of Commerce
Listen for: Lovely piano with dotted-eighth-noted echo, the perfectly enunciated “ain’t”

Stephin I had to do fact-checking with Sam, who’d lived in D.C. for a while. He gave me the cherries.

Claudia After its release I heard that Washington’s NBA team was playing the opening part of this recording as their pre-show music. I don’t know if this is true, but if it is they should pay us for it. Also, I had a terrifying moment being pitched by a documentary about George W Bush. They asked to use the shouted “W!” synchronized over an image of the president accepting his candidacy at the primary, hands raised over his head in victory. Obviously I refused this placement.

LD At the 1999 pre-release show in D.C. the audience went berserk over this one, much as it did at MergeFest during “All My Little Words.” Both had been rather rowdy before. But I guess rabid regional pride is always in vogue—happily, for people such as Sufjan Stevens.

Miss Gretchen It’s the Toni Basil cheerleader character here that’s so appealing to me. I was a cheerleader in junior high—because I liked jumping around and yelling. But I had no idea what “First and ten!” meant so I soon quit.

Kevin Clarke My novelist husband, KM Soehnlein, was on an East Coast book tour. I was to rendezvous with him in our nation’s capitol. I arrived from San Francisco and jumped on the Metro to meet him in Dupont circle. Roller luggage in tow, iPod on shuffle, anticipation of the reunion quickening my step, I headed up the escalator into what I could tell was a top-ten day. At the precise moment my foot hit the sidewalk outside, my iPod delivered: “W!! A–S-H!! I–N-G!! T–O-N, baby! D-C!!” I exploded into laughter and disbelief, but immediately adopted the song’s rhythm, and strutted down the street on my way.

John Claudia and I share guitar parts. There’s one chord we never agreed on: A minor! E minor! Whatever!


1 thought on “Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs”

  1. actually, the lexicon starts at “7” and ends of course with “zebra”i tried to interview molly ringwald and courtney love, but to no avail. hopefully the rest will amuse…xox ldb

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