Saturday, February 21, 2009

Week 38: "Reno Dakota" by The Magnetic Fields

At just over 60 seconds in length, “Reno Dakota” is by far the shortest song I will write about in the course of this 52 Songs in 52 Weeks Essay Project. As I am running about a week behind, I intended to write about this song last week right after Valentine’s Day.

While “Reno Dakota” is an exceptionally short song, it is located on an exceptionally long album. In 1999 The Magnetic Fields released a three-volume concept album called 69 Love Songs. With 23 songs per volume, the album approaches 3 hours in length. The Magnetic Fields is a band fronted by Stephin Merritt, an especially prolific musician who also records with several other bands. You can read all about the album here.

“Reno Dakota” is named for an obscure documentary film-maker. It is a fun little song featuring a repetitive banjo strum and the beautiful voice of vocalist Claudia Gonson. Part of the joy of the song is its clever rhyme scheme and interesting use of words. For example, “Reno Dakota” is rhymed with iota, quota, and Nino Rota (who composed film scores for Fellini.)

You can watch a video that was set to the song here.
You can also watch a guy without a shirt attempt to cover the song here.