No one can lift the damn thing: the best of the Magnetic Fields

With a catalog this daunting, I expect arguments about exclusions and why I included so much of 69 Love Songs: (a) it’s got sixty-nine songs, at least a third of which are superb and funny, especially as collected in the first volume (b) it’s as if he put everything he had into it and has spent the last seventeen years living off the manner, luxuriating in plenitude. Take 50-Song Memoir, released in March — a splendid concept, of which a fifth ranks with his best. Fifty songs in the age of the stream and the smartphone constitute a less onerous listen than sixty-nine when the Discman ruled, but still — no doubt I’d offend Stephen Merritt to suggest that life is long.

No American gay songwriter has shown such fluency about genre assimilation; he understands that queerness is the wearing of a mask that circumstances will replace with another.

1. Sweet-Lovin’ Man
2. The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure
3. Book of Love
4. Too Drunk to Dream
5. 100,000 Fireflies
6. I Have the Moon
7. I Thought You Were My Boyfriend
8. The Flowers She Sent and the Flowers She Said She Sent
9. Fido, Your Leash is Too Long
10. My Ex and I
11. Old Fools
12. It’s Only Time
13. I Don’t Want to Get Over You
14. Busby Berkeley Dreams
15. He Didn’t (The 6ths)
16. Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing
17. Kissing Things (The 6ths)
18. Fathers in the Clouds
19. Smoke and Mirrors
20. Acoustic Guitar

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