Sunday, July 02, 2006

Acoustic Guitar (1999) – The Magnetic Fields

Quite simply one of the most clever songs ever written, “Acoustic Guitar” personifies said instrument, imploring it to “bring me back my girl,” alternating between bribery, wheedling, and threats. In between, the song ascribes virtues to the guitar, while acknowledging personal shortcomings, and humorously recalling the ex’s idiosyncrasies.

To the uninitiated listener, the song is either a tender gender bender or lesbian lament due to Claudia Gonson’s reference to her girl. It’s even more endearing, however, when one realizes that a man wrote this song, as if he is hiding behind a female voice and a guitar to further distance himself from his inadequacies. Yet, in another twist, songwriter Stephen Merritt is gay. The genius, then, is that the song succeeds despite the fact that, in order to personally relate, most listeners will impute to it characteristics which it possesses neither in form, nor in substance—the perspective of a straight male.

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