The Magnetic Fields

mag fields

Stephin Merritt

50 Song Memoir is the new album from songwriter Stephin Merritt’s beloved recording project, the Magnetic Fields. This personal album, containing fifty songs, one for each year of the artist’s life, is projected for a late 2016/early 2017 release on Nonesuch Records. The album commenced recording on Stephin Merritt’s fiftieth birthday, February 9, 2015.

To date, Merritt has written and recorded ten Magnetic Fields albums, including the popular and critically acclaimed album, 69 Love Songs. A song from that record, “The Book of Love,” has been covered by Peter Gabriel, and has appeared in numerous TV shows and films; notably, the Nairobi Chamber Orchestra performed it at an official state dinner in Kenya, before Presidents Barack Obama and Uhuru Kenyatta delivered their toasts. Merritt has also composed original music and lyrics for several music theater pieces, including an off-Broadway stage musical of Neil Gaiman’s novel Coraline, for which he received an Obie Award. In 2014, Merritt composed songs and background music for the first musical episode of public radio’s This American Life. Stephin Merritt also releases albums under the band names the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes.

Unlike Merritt’s previous work, the lyrics on 50 Song Memoir are nonfiction, a mix of autobiography (bedbugs, Buddhism, buggery) and documentary (hippies, Hollywood, hyperacusis). There is one song per year for the fifty years since the songwriter’s birth in 1965. Musically, the sound ranges as widely and adventurously as possible, within the context of lyrics-driven music.

In concert, the music will be played and sung by seven performers in a stage set featuring fifty years of artifacts both musical (vintage computers, reel-to-reel tape decks, newly invented instruments), and decorative (tiki bar, shag carpet, vintage magazines for the perusal of idle musicians). The seven performers each play seven different instruments, traditional (cello, charango, clavichord) or invented in the last fifty years (Slinky guitar, Swarmatron, synthesizer).

In describing his approach to writing 50 Song Memoir, Merritt states: “The first song, ‘Wonder Where I’m From,’ explains that I was conceived by barefoot beatniks on a houseboat in St Thomas, Virgin Islands; born in Yonkers, NY, but never lived there; learned to talk in Baden-Baden, in the former West Germany (then called the BRD, for Bundesrepublik Deutschland), and moved around constantly throughout my childhood, so that when someone asks me where I’m from, I have no short answer handy. The musical treatment shifts to reflect each locale, as exemplified by Alvin and the Chipmunks’ album Around the World with the Chipmunks.“


The Magnetic Fields 50 Song Memoir

'66 Wonder Where I'm From

'67 Come Back as a Cockroach

'68 A Cat Called Dionysus

'69 Judy Garland

'70 They're Killing Children Over There

'71 I Think I'll Make Another World

'72 Eye Contact

'73 It Could Have Been Paradise

'74 No

'75 My Mama Ain't

'76 Hustle 76

'77 Life Ain't All Bad

'78 The Blizzard of ’78

'79 Rock'n'Roll Will Ruin Your Life

'80 London by Jetpack

'81 How to Play the Synthesizer

'82 Happy Beeping

'83 Foxx and I

'84 Danceteria!

'85 Why I Am Not a Teenager

'86 How I Failed Ethics

'87 At the Pyramid

'88 Ethan Frome

'89 The 1989 Musical Marching Zoo

'90 Dreaming in Tetris

'91 The Day I Finally...

'92 Weird Diseases

'93 Me and Fred and Dave and Ted

'94 Haven't Got a Penny

'95 A Serious Mistake

'96 I'm Sad!

'97 Eurodisco Trio

'98 Lovers' Lies

'99 Fathers in the Clouds

'00 Ghosts of the Marathon Dancers

'01 Have You Seen It in the Snow?

'02 Be True to Your Bar

'03 The Ex and I

'04 Cold-Blooded Man

'05 Never Again

'06 "Quotes"

'07 In the Snow White Cottages

'08 Surfin'

'09 Till You Come Back to Me

'10 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

'11 Stupid Tears

'12 You Can Never Go Back to New York

'13 Big Enough for Both of Us

'14 I Wish I Had Pictures

'15 Somebody's Fetish

The Magnetic Fields Love At The Bottom Of The Sea

God Wants Us To Wait

Andrew In Drag

Your Girlfriend's Face

Born For Love

I'd Go Anywhere With Hugh

Infatuation (With Your Gyration)

The Only Boy In Town

The Machine In Your Hand

Goin' Back To The Country

I've Run Away To Join The Fairies

The Horrible Party

My Husband's Pied - A - Terre

I Don't Like Your Tone


All She Cares About Is Mariachi

The Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs