A blog devoted to the works of Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, Future Bible Heroes, The Gothic Archies, et al. This blog will feature news related to his work, as well as occasional fanboy gushes from the author. Thank you for stopping by, and may all your dreams come true.

Friday, February 19, 2010


If you look over there to the right, you'll see an intrusive-looking upcoming events thingy I made this morning.  In the future, I hope for it to just be a way to keep tabs on CD releases, SM-related appearances, and things of a similar ilk.  If I've missed anything or if you think it's a dumb idea, let me know.  I cherish your thoughts, sirs and madams.

Rolling Stone posted this review of Realism, straight with a video of a skinny white male expounding upon what he likes about the record.  Portland Mercury posted this interview with Mr. Merritt, and the San Francisco Gate posted this one.

And because I know you're super interested, I bought Coraline on iTunes (and on CD, but I'm impatient) and it's too marvelous for words.  "The Ballad of the Wasps" makes me cry and is a perfect summation of the play's theme, and I love it.  David Greenspan blows my fucking mind on "Falling, Falling," likewise with Julian Fleisher on "When You're A Cat."  Despite the untraditional instrumentation, I feel like Mr. Merritt is putting his theatrical ability to its best use here; his songwriting is, as ever, completely masterful and these songs translate the tale to which they relate so effortlessly...  This album was completely worth the sometimes-painstaking wait for it, and if you don't buy it, you're likely a fool!


  1. It's a silly question 'cos I'm as fanboyish as you are, but what DON'T you enjoy from Mr. Merritt's oeuvre? He's easily in my top five artists of all time, but the way I see it, there are some undeniable clinkers in his catalog:

    - Eban & Charley; sort of a waste of time.
    - Eternal Youth, after the immaculate "Losing Your Affection" (one of his very finest tunes), is remarkably short on quality stuff.
    - The Lonely Robot; it shouldn't really count, but it does and there's not really anything worth returning to on it.
    - Pieces of April; a) it's a ripoff item and b) it's not difficult to see that all the new tracks (except maybe "Dreams Anymore") pale in comparison to the 69 Love Songs & Thistles tunes.
    - The three Chinese operas work for me about as often as 69 Love Songs doesn't; rather than betraying his usual sense of craft and attention to melody it's all so unabashedly esoteric and uninviting. My favorite thing on all three discs is "In the Spring When I Was Young", which is exactly a minute long.

    I do rather enjoy the Coraline soundtrack (and adored the show), but it's no match for my top five SM masterworks:

    1) 69 Love Songs (duh)
    2) Get Lost
    3) um... Charm? Holiday? i? Hyacinths? Wasps'? Distortion? Realism? Looming in the Gloom?

    And that's my piece (or is it peace?). Let's share top 10 SM song lists sometime.

  2. That's something to chew over ryan andrew. I'll get back with my own thoughts. Well written.

  3. This is SUCH a daunting prospect..

    There really isn't a lot that I do dislike, and I feel that no bias is ever involved in that equation; Mr. Merritt just writes songs that consistently intrigue me and that's part of the reason why this blog exists in the first place. I suppose that his choice to cover "Get Carter" on the Human League tribute was frustrating, but other than that, I can think of zero things that have done the same (and the "Don't You Want Me?" and "Human" covers more than made up for that). I have joked in the past that sometimes it feels like Mr. Merritt writes songs explicitly with what I will like in mind, and sometimes, goddamn it, it feels like that MUST be the case.

    Eban and Charley is one of my faves, though, and I'm not saying that to be contrary. I think the instrumental songs show Mr. Merritt's experimental side in more vivid a way than anything else he's done, Coraline included. And, the pop songs are amongst the best he's written ("Poppyland," "This Little Ukulele").

    I suppose the album that I most frequently call my favorite is "Hyacinths & Thistles" simply because of the consistent mood to which I'm returned when I listen. Granted, what I love about most of Mr. Merritt's work is its multiple layers and the ability to listen to new sounds every time, but H&T's familiarity just soothes me more than any set of sounds on this earth. I consider it Mr. Merritt's masterpiece.

    But, then, I love it all so much. Top ten songs? That is daunting, but sounds impossible to turn down. I will give you an answer, begrudgingly, but know that I'll come back and re-read this tomorrow and call myself an idiot for leaving something off or for even thinking it was okay for me to make such a list in the first place.

    1. Give Me Back My Dreams
    2. In My Secret Place
    3. Like a Snowman
    4. Grand Canyon
    5. I'm Lonely (And I Love It)
    6. Save A Secret for the Moon
    7. Crows
    8. Falling in Love With the Wolfboy
    9. The Way You Say Goodnight
    10. Barbarians

    I threw that together in about two minutes knowing that if I spent any longer on it I'd go crazy with it. Again, this is in no way a definitive list, it's just ten songs I love a lot out of a billion I love just the same...

    I'd love to see others' lists, for sure.

  4. What?! No "Aging Spinsters"? :P

    1. Strange Powers
    2. The Dreaming Moon
    3. I Think I Need a New Heart
    4. Love is Lighter Than Air
    5. As You Turn to Go
    6. All Dressed Up in Dreams
    7. Shipwrecked
    8. Yet Another Girl
    9. Nothing Matters When We're Dancing
    10. Young and Insane

  5. Oh, David, all they myriad songs not on the list are crooning in my ear now, each one making me feel guilty for their absence. I am an idiot...

    But, I love your list! I love love love that we have not one song in common, and expect that would be a similar trend if people started submitting similar lists.

  6. I appreciate you rising to the task! And I suppose it's less fair to call Mr. Merrit's usually rather consistent albums out when the only true clinkers are those random non-album tracks that just don't happen to work (I know for a fact I never need to hear "Mr. Punch" again.)

    My top 10 Stephinsongs is a lot less esoteric than these previous two, probably because I'm trying to be as objective as possible. It hurts not to include "Give Me Back My Dreams", "Lonely Days" and "Hopeless", "Pillow Fight", "Born on a Train", "Sad Little Moon", and that 69 Love Songs sequence from "Very Funny" to "You're My Only Home". But the following are the crowningest of the crowning, I think.

    1. 100,000 Fireflies
    2. The Book of Love
    3. All the Umbrellas in London
    4. I Don't Believe in the Sun
    5. When You're Old and Lonely
    6. Love is Like a Bottle of Gin
    7. Courtesans
    8. Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring
    9. It's Only Time
    10. Losing Your Affection



  7. It is my favorite thing ever that out of three ten-song lists, there are 30 different songs. This pleases me.

    But, of course, this whole process, while fun, is sort of innocuous; Mr. Merritt's catalogue is rife with songs worthy of being on these lists.

    Brian: WHY NO LIST?! I'm interested.

  8. I can't really put it in order, and I can't even reduce it to ten songs. Anyways, here's my list... I'm trying to include only the songs I absolutely adore to bits, but it's very hard for me to do these types of things.

    Lonely Highway
    Sunset City
    When the Open Road is Closing In
    Railroad Boy
    The Village in the Morning
    The Dreaming Moon
    Swinging London
    Either You Don't Love Me Or I Don't Love You
    Summer Lies
    The Sun Goes Down and the World Goes Dancing
    How To Say Goodbye
    Falling Out of Love (With You)
    Pillow Fight
    Movies in My Head
    Night Falls Like A Grand Piano
    Ever Falls the Twilight
    It's very hard for me to choose my favorite FBH songs, but MoL and IL(AILI) are both amazing.

  9. By MoL and IL(AILI) I mean the albums, but the songs are great too.

  10. Mr. Anderson, your list is, of course, brilliant, but I find it so funny that you couldn't keep it down to ten. Of course, it is a difficult process for us all...