Tom Recommends: “Andrew In Drag” by The Magnetic Fields

In case you’ve never tried it, writing is really fucking hard!

So if you ever need to be reminded how bad you are at it relative to the abilities of others, might I suggest listening to the song Andrew In Drag by The Magnetic Fields. In two minutes (and while rhyming the end of every single line of the lyrics in a simple “-ag” stressed syllable), Stephin Merritt puts on a clinic on how to establish, develop, and pay off characters across a core narrative conflict that illuminates themes about personal identity and love.

I, on the other hand, one time was able to semi-coherently express my feelings to my wife.

Oh, and I wrote a couple of books that maybe, maaaaaybe achieve a sliver of the narrative impact and clarity this song achieves in TWO GOD-DAMN MINUTES!!! What, exactly, did I ever do to you, Stephin Merritt? Seriously. I want to know. Touché, motherfucker!

This is the part of the recommendation where it would make sense for me to synopsize the song’s narrative, but it truly cannot be said any better than it’s said in the song. So I’m not going to take the bait and drag my stank all over it. No. I’m just going to politely stand back and recommend the song with the added disclosure that listening to it and really thinking about the effortless efficiency and complexity of its storytelling might make you give up on using words ever again. In fact, if it doesn’t, then listen to it one more time. You’ll get there. And if we all listen to it, then you’ll be living in a silent world, Merritt. A lonely, desolate and silent universe just like the one my soul is now trapped in when all I wanted to do was write!

(Song recommendation by Tom Stern)