'Love is ...' here perhaps less a song, more a poetic, wry, extended metaphor, but still a lugubrious bit of loveliness from The Magnetic Fields' 1999 triple album 69 Love Songs. The prolific, lovelorn and deep-voiced Stephin Merritt wrote this alongside the rest, and here with distorted, grumbly cello and bass, the lyrics characteristically include references to some of his New York haunts, as well as rich in double-edged observations about what both love and gin give and take from you. What pours out is pleasurable while it lasts, but, inevitably is an experience that is short-lived, and contains a twist.
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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