Saturday, November 5, 2011

Song #6 of 9999 - Love is Like a Bottle of Gin by Magnetic Fields

Song #6 of 9999

Title: Love is Like a Bottle of Gin
Artist: Magnetic Fields
Year: 2000
Album: 69 Love Songs

Of the first five songs I posted, at least three of them have unimportant, unintelligible or no lyrics. I thought it was about time I chose a song that relies almost entirely on lyrics for its effectiveness.

This is one of the most clever lyrics I have encountered. On first listen, you may think, oh, it's the familiar "being in love is like being drunk" motif but the last couplet turns it from predictable to brilliant and seems to render all that came before it more valuable. The spare arrangement of just bass and random guitar harmonics forces you to pay attention to the words. And you probably won't notice the unusual time signature (21/8 according to composer Stephin Merritt) because it suits the lyric so well. Perfect in its simplicity and coming in at well under two minutes. Lyrics reprinted below for your reference.

It makes you blind, it does you in
It makes you think you're pretty tough
It makes you prone to crime and sin
It makes you say things off the cuff
It's very small and made of glass
and grossly over-advertised
It turns a genius to an ass
and makes a fool think he is wise
It could make you regret your birth
or turn cartwheels in your best suit
It costs a lot more than it's worth
and yet there is no substitute
They keep it on a higher shelf
the older and more pure it grows
It has no color in itself
but it can make you see rainbows
You can find it on the Bowery
or you can find it at Elaine's
It makes your words more flowery
It makes the sun shine, makes it rain
You just get out what they put in
and they never put in enough
Love is like a bottle of gin
but a bottle of gin is not like love

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