A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring. I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up. I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever. Enjoy!
Today’s song is “Meaningless” by Magnetic Fields from their 1999 3-CD concept album “69 Love Songs”. This particular song appears on Volume 3 of the set.
like when two fireflies fluoresce
Just like everything I guess
yes yes yes
it was utterly meaningless
I wasn’t familiar with Magnetic Fields when I first started hanging out with Emma. I remember early on in our hangouts or online chatting that she mentioned this song “Meaningless” and referenced the lyrics. At that time we were both pretty disillusioned with the idea of love/relationships and were both in the “i’m not looking for a serious relationship” mode. Of course it would be songs about the futility of love that helped bring us together.
Emma was finishing up college at the time and as you do during college, you just become aware of different bands and it was the golden age of online music sharing too, so I remember Emma having an eclectic collection of mp3’s on her computer. She had mentioned that she was really interested in hunting down this boxset that these Magnetic Fields songs were from. She had looked at several record stores and at a Borders with no luck. My brain went “Ah-ha!” and knew I could probably find it at Paul’s CD’s. Despite seemingly trying to avoid a “serious relationship”, I was in the zone for making grand romantic gestures. I went to Paul’s and sure enough they had the boxset. I bought it, wrapped it in newspaper and delivered it to the offices of The Tartan (CMU’s student newspaper where Emma was an editor). Mark this as one of the key moments in the beginning of our relationship. Not only a romantic, a resourceful romantic at that.
Emma would go on to make me a mixtape of her top 25 songs from the boxset. An Einstein sticker on the cover saying “Yeah! Oh Yeah!”
“Meaningless” is a song that occupies a similar space to the Mountain Goats’ “No Children” (see my write-up for day 25) in our relationship. The lyrics to the song are bleak — it’s all meaningless. Now that the relationship is over, let us never speak good of it: “and if some dim bulb should say / we were in love in some way / kick all his teeth in for me / and if you feel like keeping on kicking / feel free”. Yet again I think this is a song that exists to embrace the darkness of relationships and acts as a purge and helps bring it into the light.
For a fun read on the background and creation of the “69 Love Songs” records, pickup the 33 1/3 series book on the album by Magnetic Field’s contributing band member LD Beghtol.
Also, track down the documentary “Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields”, which was a pretty interesting look into the man behind The Magnetic Fields.