The 3 Stages of a New Love, a Song Analysis

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In the song, The Book of Love, the Magnetic Fields takes us through 3 stages of a new love.

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the whole thing
It’s full of charts and facts, some figures and instructions for dancing

Stage 1: Irritation, shielded desire, intellectual connection
Love is like a book. It has a ton of things in it that I don’t understand. Understanding this song as being spoken to a new love, we can see how the Magnetic Fields shares our first reaction. I don’t need love. Like a textbook it is heavy and difficult to understand. And yet…

But I, I love it when you read to me.
And you, You can read me anything.

We should talk about it. You’re nice.

Reading is a great conversation starter. Have you ever queried a friend with, “read any good books, lately?” I have. Reading and discussing opens the door to understand the way someone thinks and acts. It opens the door to their values. It opens the door to things you should know about a potential love.

The book of love has music in it,
In fact that’s where music comes from.
Some of it is just transcendental,
Some of it is just really dumb.

Stage 2: Vulnerability
My opinion? Well music is great, but I don’t like all of it. In this verse, the Magnetic Fields opens up a little bit. Here are my thoughts; here are my views. By opening up the conversation to things potentially controversial, I am vulnerable.

But I, I love it when you sing to me.
And you, You can sing me anything.

And I have gotten to know you well enough, I want you to vulnerable too. Your voice is beautiful, at least to me. Singing is scary, our voice is part of our body. Indeed, it is a short jump from feeling insecure about our voice to feeling insecure about who we are. We know each other now, be vulnerable, it will be ok.

The book of love is long and boring,
And written very long ago.
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes,
And things we’re all too young to know.

Stage 3: Commitment
Yes, commitment can be scary. But it is a lot less scary when you know someone well, and you know they are safe. Love is still complicated, I still don’t understand it, and there is more to it than we will ever know. But I know you, deeply, and you know me, truly. Truly enough to know that I’m a little bit of a cynic. Truly enough to know that I would rather spend forever with you than any. body. else.

But I, I love it when you give me things.
And you, You ought to give me wedding rings.

William Stonewall Monroe

The reflection of a lady

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a love love unending love happy birthday to my truest and dearest friend and wife, Alicia.

Everyday.

Everyday my love is more beautiful than the last. Everyday she grows in grace and kindness. Everyday I am a less able to live without her. Everyday I forget more of how life was prior to our wedded bliss. Everyday I know her better than the day before. Everyday our love is stronger, deeper, and infinitely more like love than our love from the day before.

I love her more today than I did yesterday, the day before, or on our wedding day. I will love her more tomorrow than I did today. I will love her more in ten years than I do tomorrow.

Everyday she is more beautiful than the last.

Everyday.

My wife requested this song, “Windows are rolled down” by Amos Lee. It was my pleasure to learn it for her. It is a great song about the emotions of a long car ride through the night.

Who do you love? Tell them. Today.

William Stonewall Monroe

One question that will refocus your art

Big Beautiful Face Statue in Tenerife
Big Beautiful Face Statue in Tenerife by epSos.de, on Flickr

Confession: When I am creating art, whether that be code, reports, dinner, or music, I sometimes forget what I’m doing. I sometimes ask the wrong question.

Will my audience like it?

Will I get more accolades, more love, more views, and so on? The problem with this, is that if this is the big question I ask myself, I miss the point of my art. For art isn’t about performing so that someone else will give me affirmation. Art is about connections, realization,

creating order out of chaos

as Madeleine L’Engle would say.

So I must refocus.

What will make my art more beautiful?

A little vague? Maybe, but not more vague than the question I had been asking myself. This question of beauty reminds me that I am not primarily creating so that I can have Facebook likes. It redefines my art’s purpose as well as my success criteria. No longer do I have to beat last week’s stats in order to be successful. I need to do what God has called me to do and make something beautiful. I can again make art that matters.

William Stonewall Monroe

This week’s song is Christina Perri’s Thousand Years. My buddy Ryan joined in. Enjoy.

PS. come out to Mayfair Women’s Apparel for a street side show put on by myself and Ryan, 4:30–6:30 PM.

My question for you, how do you refocus your art to what matters?

Is it ok to like your own art?

Mount Cook/ Aoraki, New Zealand
Mount Cook/ Aoraki, New Zealand by EmmaJG, on Flickr

Is it ok to like your own art?
Short answer? Yes.

Great chefs taste their creations, enjoying and course correcting as they go along. The first palette they please is their own. Indeed, chefs tend to be at their best when making the food they enjoy the most, the food they love the most. Can you imagine your terror if you sat down at a restaurant and the chef came personally out to your table after your meal had been served and said, “I wouldn’t eat that if I were you.” Food is art, and chefs must enjoy their art to produce at their best.

I love my own music. I get my own songs stuck in my head as I am writing and recording and I see that as a sign I am creating something worthwhile. Any time I present you with art, I want to be able to say that it touches my soul in the yearning part of my soul that is impossible to describe, in the same way that our best loved artists touch our souls. After I’m done creating, I want to have a Genesis moment and say, “It is good.” If I am excited about my art, you can be as well.

It is a good thing to love your own creations, it is even a good thing to love yourself. But where do we cross the line between this healthy self-love and narcissism? Good question, and it is a hairy one. Your going to have to have some good friends to help you figure this one out. One guideline that I can offer is that love of your self or your creations becomes unhealthy when you it becomes about you being more awesome than other people. It is these comparisons that ultimately rob us of our joy and lead down the unhealthy roads.

One of my favorite thoughts on this subject comes from CS Lewis. In his book, The Great Divorce, he describes the attitude of songwriters in heaven. He writes that a man can enjoy his own songs as if someone else had written them, and enjoy other’s writing as if he had written it himself.

This week’s music is an original that I composed. I like to call it, “the fight song.” It is a great pump up jam that I thoroughly enjoyed producing. Yes, I like it :). I hope you will too.

On the 16 of August I will again be playing at Linn St Live from 4:30 to 6:30, put it on the calendar and I will see you there!

How does enjoying your own art make that art better?

William Stonewall Monroe

A do and a don’t when covering songs

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Covered Bridge Park 6 by elviskennedy, on Flickr

Let’s face it, even if you are Bobby Dylan, some of the greatest songs were written by somebody that isn’t you. There are bound to be songs that inspire you to further greatness, songs that touch your soul. If you are a musician, cover songs! Cover songs expand your repertoire, teach you more about your craft, and allow potential fans to find you.

I have a few things I think about when I am covering songs and I hope they are helpful to you.

As the Audioslave song says, “to be yourself, is all that you can do.” Or more explicitly, don’t attempt exact reproduction. Is there a place for that? Yes! However, I am talking specifically about adding songs to your performing repertoire. If you can sound just like Beirut, great! But If I really want to hear an exact reproduction, there is always YouTube. Make the song your own! Find your voice in the song.

do maintain the intent. This is key. By maintaining the intent of a song you can play it in unforeseen ways and still rock. Example: Amanda Palmer’s Radiohead covers on the Ukulele. Yes, in her version of “Creep”, the angst is a little different, but it is still there. She captures the overall feeling of feeling weird.

There is of course much more to say on practical covering methods, but these are two important bits for me.

As an example cover, I played this Linkin Park song:

On the banjo:

events: look for me in downtown IC in front of Mayfair Apparel on Linn St at 4:30-6:30 on August 16! I’ll be rocking out some covers and originals on the sidewalk.

What is your key advice for covering a song well? Leave a comment to let me know!

William Stonewall Monroe