the magnetic fields, “world love.”
“When the rhythm calls the government falls…”
A wry imitation of the Paul Simon imitation of African “world music,” the Magnetic Fields’ “World Love” sneaks in its serious point: that music can still matter, but only if you don’t take it too seriously. The song breezes past tired, old issues of authenticity and broaches a spirit of global solidarity in the imitative and mimetic. Rather than worrying about authenticity, the song proposes a new sense of fellowship and association wrought out of the fake, the hybrid, the mutated, the mongrel, the mixed up.
“…So if you’re feeling low , stuck in some bardo / I, even I, know the solution / Love, music, wine and revolution…”
Crucially, the mode here is not satire, but rather, as one listener puts it, pastiche. The music, even the words, are a quote of a quote of a quote — slightly off and just right all at once. The references spin around so many times, a kind of gyroscopic sonic and affective revolution launches into motion.
“…This too shall pass, so raise your glass / to change and chance …”
Freedom wafts by like a melody caught askance, a guitar trill curling up the latticework, around the corner of a building, out a cafe window on the street. Music, wine, and revolution arrive by “chance,” but sometimes, this freedom opens up new spaces — funny, ironic, witty, and profoundly serious and revelatory spaces that are marked by a consciousness of time, of history (“this too shall pass”).
“…and freedom is the only law / shall we dance…”
Music, like humor, pulls us out of regimes of domination or control if we will let it, suggesting that there may be other kinds of sovereignty — other laws — to guide us.
It’s an outrageous, ridiculous claim, but also powerful and sneaky.