some fall in love. i shatter.


The 69 Love Stories Project is part homage, part literary experiment A, part literary experiment B, part new beginning. In 1999, the Magnetic Fields released 69 Love Songs, a three-cd set that would stand as their most ambitious undertaking. 69 Love Songs is an experiment in and about love songs – 69 songs that stretch across the genres of pop music, inflating some and stripping others, playing with what a type of song can be about and sound like. Popular music is rife with experimentation – it’s precisely what begets the popular music of the future. But this was different – this was an experiment that was also a tribute, forward thinking and backwards looking. Stephin Merritt and bandmates, standing on the precipice of the new millenium, kept one foot on the solid ground of the past and the other dangling over the pitfall of the future. Listen to the entire collection or just one disc or just a handful of songs and tell me when the recording’s from. You can’t; it’s timeless even as it traffics in genres and styles from years ago. Something as artistically audacious as 69 Love Songs deserves tribute and inspires further experimentation. For example, How Fucking Romantic is “attempting to illustrate all of the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs,” taking each song and transforming it into a small cartoon. This pays tribute to the package, the specific songs, and the lyrics more than it does the form (though one could argue that each graphic representation is a different style, a different genre). What I’m hoping to do with 69 Love Stories is to replicate the experiment that the Magnetic Fields engaged in. 69 love stories, each story an exploration of a literary genre, a literary form, pushing the boundaries of what those are. Can an invoice be a story? Can the character listing of a play? Diary entries? The rainbow of genres open themselves and their possibilities to explore the notion of the love story: mystery, sci-fi, literary, romance (obviously), etc. What is a story, what makes a story, what makes it valid – perhaps even more interesting, what doesn’t make a story and what invalidates? This is the literary experiment I hope to explore. The other experiment is in whether or not there’s a way to earn money from this and foster participation that keeps people interested in what’s going on. Would you pay $1 to name a character? Would you pay $5 to name a story? $10 for a ‘thank you’ in the printed book once it’s finished? Where does this go, how far can it go? What’s feasible and what isn’t? What feels like an investment and what feels like a cash-grab? What constitutes participation in your eyes and mine? We can discover these things together . You and I can become the future of publishing; this is free-form radio; this is indie rock; this is bypassing the mechanics of an industry to try something different and do it in a sustainable way. This is full of potential; this is exciting.




Mathew Harkins is the writer/editor/curator/brains/brawn behind the 69 Love Stories Project. If it’s on this site, he wrote it (yeah, he’s really writing that many stories). The only thing here that doesn’t come from him is the song quote at the top of each page. Every week, he takes his favorite line from the 69 Love Songs track that is the numerical equivalent of the short story being posted (so story #33 equals track #10 on disc 2) and posts it up top for people to see. This may turn out to be the best writing on the site but everyone deserves to be better acquainted with the writing of Stephin Merritt.


If you’d like to contribute in any way, check out the ‘Contribute’ page or drop Mathew an email.


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