The Magnetic Fields: A Life Story In Song

Photo by Marcelo Krasilcic For 50 Song Memoir, The Magnetic Fields’ latest project, singer/songwriter/frontman Stephin Merritt took on the daunting task of writing and recording 50 songs, one for each year of the first half-century of his life. One might think that this project led to a certain amount of self-discovery for Merritt, but, as he told American Songwriter in a recent lengthy interview, that wasn’t the case. “I’m sure everyone is going to ask me that,” Merritt says. “I learned absolutely nothing. I didn’t expect to learn anything. I think when people say that they have learned things they’re generally lying. I think you learn things about yourself until you’re maybe 15 years old and then you stop. If you ever want to learn more about yourself, making a 50-song musical memoir is not the way to go.” Listeners will discover a lot, however, about both Merritt and the tumultuous 50 years in the rear-view mirror. Autobiographical details mix with documentary bulletins to form an unforgettable musical journey, at times witty and at times moving, but always unmistakably Merritt, who decided to make 50 Song Memoir at the behest of Nonesuch Records president Bob Hurwitz. That it wasn’t his original idea actually helped Merritt to initiate a project with the same kind of scope, inventiveness and daring of The Magnetic Fields’ 1999 masterwork 69 Love Songs. “I still don’t think I have the youthful hubris to think of it and then decide to do it,” Merritt says. “But I didn’t think of it. The record label thought of it and then told me to do it. And I was delighted to do it.” Merritt originally gave himself a year to finish the... Sign In to Keep Reading

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