The Magnetic Fields

50 Song Memoir

Image of The Magnetic Fields - 50 Song Memoir
Record Label

About this item

Nonesuch Records releases the Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir, a five-CD/five-LP set that chronicles the 50 years of songwriter Stephin Merritt’s life with one song per year. It was produced by Stephin Merritt with additional production by Thomas Bartlett and Charles Newman. The Magnetic Fields performed the 50 Song Memoir over two nights per city, beginning November 18 & 19 at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA, and continuing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on December 2 & 3. Further dates begin in spring 2017. 50 Song Memoir is available in five-LP and five-CD editions including an extensive interview by Daniel Handler and facsimile handwritten lyrics by Merritt, and as a standalone bound book with a full-album download card.

Merritt began recording on his 50th birthday: February 9, 2015. Unlike his previous work, the lyrics on 50 Song Memoir are nonfiction – in Merritt’s words, “a mix of autobiography (bedbugs, Buddhism, buggery) and documentary (hippies, Hollywood, hyperacusis).” As he says in the album’s liner note interview with Handler, “I am the least autobiographical person you are likely to meet. I will probably not write any more true songs after this than I did before, but it’s been interesting working on it.”

In addition to his vocals on all 50 songs, Merritt plays more than one hundred instruments on 50 Song Memoir, ranging from ukulele to piano to drum machine to abacus. In concert, the music will be played and sung by a newly expanded Magnetic Fields septet in a stage set featuring 50 years of artefacts 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, either traditional (cello, charango, clavichord) or invented in the last 50 years (Slinky guitar, Swarmatron, synthesizer). The stage extravaganza will be directed by the award-winning Jose Zayas (Love in the Time of Cholera, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter).

To date, Stephin Merritt has written and recorded eleven Magnetic Fields albums, including the popular and critically acclaimed 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 the song 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 theatre 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. 


Disc 1
1. ’66 Wonder Where I’m From
2. ’67 Come Back As A Cockroach
3. ’68 A Cat Called Dionysus
4. ’69 Judy Garland
5. ’70 They’re Killing Children Over There
6. ’71 I Think I’ll Make Another World
7. ’72 Eye Contact
8. ’73 It Could Have Been Paradise
9. ’74 No
10. ’75 My Mama Ain’t

Disc 2
1. ’76 Hustle 76
2. ’77 Life Ain’t All Bad
3. ’78 The Blizzard Of ’78
4. ’79 Rock’n’Roll Will Ruin Your Life
5. ’80 London By Jetpack
6. ’81 How To Play The Synthesizer
7. ’82 Happy Beeping
8. ’83 Foxx And I
9. ’84 Danceteria!
10. ’85 Why I Am Not A Teenager

Disc 3
1. ’86 How I Failed Ethics
2. ’87 At The Pyramid
3. ’88 Ethan Frome
4. ’89 The 1989 Musical Marching Zoo
5. ’90 Dreaming In Tetris
6. ’91 The Day I Finally…
7. ’92 Weird Diseases
8. ’93 Me And Fred And Dave And Ted
9. ’94 Haven’t Got A Penny
10. ’95 A Serious Mistake

Disc 4
1. ’96 I’m Sad!
2. ’97 Eurodisco Trio
3. ’98 Lovers’ Lies
4. ’99 Fathers In The Clouds
5. ’00 Ghosts Of The Marathon Dancers
6. ’01 Have You Seen It In The Snow?
7. ’02 Be True To Your Bar
8. ’03 The Ex And I
9. ’04 Cold-Blooded Man
10. ’05 Never Again

Disc 5
1. ’06 “Quotes”
2. ’07 In The Snow White Cottages
3. ’08 Surfin’
4. ’09 Till You Come Back To Me
5. ’10 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
6. ’11 Stupid Tears
7. ’12 You Can Never Go Back To New York
8. ’13 Big Enough For Both Of Us
9. ’14 I Wish I Had Pictures
10. ’15 Somebody’s Fetish

Back to top