#71 – “Love Is Eternity” (2004)

Venue Songs
[audio http://www.tmbg.com/mp3/LoveIsEternity.mp3]

[Song available for download from TMBG’s site here.]

A.S.: As birds chirp outside my window…

L.K.: I have such a kneejerk reaction against love songs that I actually couldn’t stand listening to this for the longest time.
A.S.: Really?
L.K.: Yeah. The stereotypical “perpetual singleton doesn’t want to listen to people in love talk about how great it is” thing. I have grown up enough to be able to appreciate the song on its own terms now though.
A.S.: Ooh.  Yeah, see I just grew up surrounded by pop music and love songs, so I was very used to that stuff.  If anything, I felt like Rob Fleming/Gordon when I was an angry/sad teenager. So “Love Is Eternity” just sounded sweet and lovely to me from day one. Then again you were surrounded by pop music/love songs too, just from a different era.
L.K.: I mean, 90% of the music I listened to (old stuff from the 20s/30s/40s) was love songs too, but they were so artificial and insincere that it was easier to ignore.
A.S.: Yeah, “Love Is Eternity” is much more in accordance with the kind of pop I grew up with.
L.K.: This is actually a really sincere love song.
A.S.: It’s extremely sincere! I love it!
L.K.: A total love letter to the idea of love and marriage itself. It’s like the opposite of “They’ll Need A Crane” or the entire discography of Elvis Costello.
A.S.: Celebrating the love of other people too, completely selfless.  Kind of like The Zombies’ “Friends of Mine”. I’ll also note now that the line “Our time on Earth is short” just absolutely fucking tears me apart every single time I hear it. I don’t know why – just sincere love and fatalism and that descending minor bassline.
L.K.: I am still amused by how it was written for some people they don’t even know.
A.S.: They just knew who they were and what their occupations were.
L.K.: And that they were in love! I’m not married so I can’t speak as to the effectiveness of the advice in this song, but everybody in TMBG seems to be pretty happily married, so I wouldn’t doubt any of it. Dan and Lisa are pretty damn lucky they got this song written for them.
A.S.: They seem like pretty lucky folks – fancy jobs n stuff.
L.K.: Yeah — Dan was a writer for Futurama! Unfortunately he also produced for American Dad
A.S.: Oof. And Lisa is a senior VP at NBC. It’s like he’s married to Liz Lemon!
L.K.: If you want They Might Be Giants to write a song for your wedding, you need to be an industry bigwig! Wait, but Liz Lemon is more like a writer… she’d be more like the Dan in this case, if Lisa were Jack Donaghy.
A.S.: Oh right. I’ve only seen a few episodes of 30 Rock anyway.  My Satan-worshipping roommate has been watching it a lot lately.
L.K.: If Liz were to ever marry Jack, except that would never happen, so this is a bad analogy.
A.S.: Yeah.
L.K.: I’ve seen all of the first three seasons but have only watched it sporadically since then, though my mom still watches it every week.
A.S.: But anyway, this song.
L.K.: Yeah, this song!
A.S.: Great song! Really pretty! Marty’s drums are surprisingly kinda loud in the beginning!
L.K.: Loud drums = not an expected component of songs about love.
A.S.: But certainly a welcome one.
L.K.: Since this is a perfectly straight love song, can I just take a minute to complain about one tendency of TMBG fans and song interpretation?
A.S.: Be my guest.
L.K.: The tendency to try to make any love songs into something morbid or cynical or nasty. They have enough perfectly straightforward anti-love songs already. Let the lyrics speak for themselves instead of trying to twist them into what you wish they were. Post-marriage, both Johns seem to have (understandably) moved away from the negative love songs. People trying to twist the words around to stuff like this song or “Never Knew Love” or even the dreaded “Another First Kiss” just seem to be in denial.
A.S.: I’ve always seen the futility of twisting around lyrics in general, or really looking too deeply in them for some sort of meaning.  I think finding out that “I Am The Walrus” was complete gobbledegook as a child did a number on me. But yeah, not every song about love needs to be miserable and cynical.
L.K.: Remember, the first rule of TMBG lyrics is that the most obvious meaning is generally the intended one.
A.S.: This isn’t Pablo Neruda or T.S. Eliot writing these songs, here.
L.K.: Just remember the essential Flansburgh quote: “We’re not into jabberwocky. I feel like we could write a song with the  title “I Wanna Fuck You” and people would still say, “I don’t  understand.explain to me what that song means.” For whatever reason, the  reputation that the band has, people just assume that we’re somehow  cryptic. But I think a lot of what we do makes quite a bit of sense at  face value.”
A.S.: I’ve never seen that before.  And now I really want them to write a song called “I Wanna Fuck You”.
L.K.: It’s probably one of my favorite quotes of his, and one that I find myself referring to frequently when wondering what any particular song is about.
A.S.: Since that wraps up our discussion of “Love Is Eternity”, it’s PLUG TIME!!!!
L.K.: Oh boy.
A.S.: Dear reader, I just wrote, recorded, and released an album.  You can find it here.  Give it a listen if you like, and if for some reason you really like it, feel free to put something other than “$0.00” in the “Name your price” option thing.
L.K.: Check it out. Oh and if you want to hear what I’ve recorded, readers, you can’t, because there hasn’t been any of it since I was in high school. I lack the technology.
A.S.: Yeah, I mean this is pretty much the first time I’ve done anything like this too, so it’s been pretty darn exciting putting it all together.  Give it a listen, why dontcha??
2 Responses to “#71 – “Love Is Eternity” (2004)”
  1. Nathan says:

    It does strike me as bizarre that so many people want to deny that TMBG could write straight-up love songs. I get the feeling that they’re bringing their own biases into it. As for the obvious meanings, however, there are a fair number of TMBG toys that don’t HAVE any obvious meanings as far as I can tell. That said, I don’t think there are necessarily any hidden meanings either.

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