― sundar subramanian, Monday, 29 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Sean, Monday, 29 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Sean, you and I must have a CD microwave party someday. Though
actually I do own three albums and have a favorite track, namely his
cover of Gary Numan's "I Die You Die," which is sublime. I resist the
69 bandwagon to this day, though, as what I've heard from it moved me
not at all.
― Ned Raggett, Monday, 29 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― keith, Monday, 29 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Also, I have very fond memories of working on a large, physical project
with a couple of other people who also knew 69LS inside and out, and
singing the songs in order, from memory, with my friends. (Well, we got
about halfway into disc 2 before we finished.)
I mean, it's mannered as fuck, and if you can't deal with that then
don't bother, but the high points are SUBLIME. (This applies even more
to the 6ths--"Waltzing Me All The Way Home" gives me shivers.)
― Douglas, Monday, 29 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― anthonyeaston, Monday, 29 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Matt Denner, Monday, 29 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― m jemmeson, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Nick, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― the pinefox, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Good: SM's voice. He also has a knack for a pretty 80s melody. (Of
course, real 80s pop records can be found for $1 second-hand.)
Dubious: Total lack of ability on any instrument. Things were
better when it was all-electronic but I'm not even convinced anymore
that the electronic pop production is that much more impressive
The stripped-down instrumentation on 69LS (which should maybe
have been called 69 Hate Songs) serves to put more focus on
the lyrics, and here comes the crux of my problem, which I find hard
to articulate. He gets compared to Morrissey but, at least with the
Smiths, Morrissey wrote about specific situations, with social
context and emotional nuance, resonant because they challenged
romantic ideals with human detail. Self-pity was usually undercut by
the illumination of the narrator's self-delusions (as in "I Know It's
Over," "Reel Around the Fountain"). With some exceptions, Stephin
Merritt's lyrics lack these qualities and I don't find them saying
much to me. For the most part, they seems to be a string of variants
on "You left me and now everything is horrible" - not that this is
intrinsically useless but one could easily hear the same thing on the
radio for no cost at all. The humour sometimes comes off as just as
facile as the pathos. On the level of craft, he relies heavily on
cliches, which are sometimes twisted cleverly and sometimes just left
to sit there.
There is, as has been widely noted, quite a bit of filler on 69
LS. I'm not saying it's a total dud but I'm not sure his entire
oeuvre amounts to as much as Pulp's much more affordable Different
Class. I feel like I've been had.
― sundar subramanian, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Kodanshi, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
his lyrics do leave me cold. There seems to me such a friggin' huge
emotional distance between his subject matter in the listener. His
words are so thick with commentary on the popular song there is no
room for left for feeling. But he does write some great melodies and
I get something out of that.
― Mark, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
But that's just my opinion. My extremely, extremely strong opinion.
― Ally, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Morrissey comparison?? red herring - no comparison, really.
Merritt all about negativity (break-up, bitterness, etc) - ? - I
can't see that this is borne out by the actual material.
Lack of playing ability: I have to disagree, at least in that the
guitar player and cellist are really talented. cf. for instance the
gtr playing on 'Boa Constrictor'. (But I accept that you don't in
general like the lo-fi sound of the LP.)
Finally - what is an 80s melody? How is it different from a 20s, 60s,
70s, 90s etc melody?
You're right that he doesn't marry rich slices of evocative, scene-setting
lyrics with lines about love in the way Morrissey used to. But no way are his
songs always bloodless and unaffecting. Off 69 Love Songs try 'Meaningless',
'Yeah! Oh Yeah!', 'Absolutely Cuckoo', 'No One Will Ever Love You', 'Washington
D.C.' (where what a cynic might see as sniggering pastiche instead comes
across to me as a wonderful reaffirmation of belief in the simple truth of love
- "It's just that's where my baby lives, that's all.."), 'All My Little Words' etc
etc. And that's not to denegrate the ones where he is just playing around with
the form either (with 'Love is Like Jazz" exceptions, of course...)
― turner, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― gareth, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― anthonyeaston, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Tom, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Since the mid-eighties at latest, there's been this omnipresent
fallacy in the rock/pop world that "emotion" can only be conveyed
spontaneously -- that "emotion" equates to lyrics that sound like
stream-of-consciousness scribblings, and is inherently absent from
anything that anyone sat down and thought about and
wrote. You can trace this back to the whole Appolonian /
Dionysian dialectic in art, or you can just take this pithy quote
from the guy who runs Double Agent: "It's the difference between the
Smiths -- the articulate expression of emotion -- and Pearl Jam or
Soundgarden -- the emotional expression of inarticulateness." It's a
hideous fallacy -- see any emo record for evidence of this assertion -
- and it's already proven untenable, in that if it were true, the
Smiths would be the most emotionless rock band of the past two
This, in essence, seems to be Merritt's entire intellectual agenda
w/r/t the pop song -- (and I'd point out to Mark that 69 Love
Songs is far more aggressive about this agenda than most of his
other work, toward which I can't really understand the "distant"
charge being levelled). What makes Merritt valuable, in my eyes, is
that he's one of very few people today who view the text of
the pop song as something that can be whole and coherent for purposes
other than humor or distance. He writes as a songwriter --
rather than trying, like so many singers, to pretend that some screen
has been dropped and he's right there with you, rambling in your ear,
he accepts the fact that he is writing texts for your consumption and
entertainment, emotionally and intellectually, and this opens up a
whole realm of address and possibility that's completely absent from
the aspiring-poet's-diary school of lyricists. (His whole career is
worth it for one line: "You won't be happy with me, but give me one
more chance; you won't be happy anyway." Who else could do that?)
I'd argue that this same sort of approach extends to the music he
makes, as well, but this post is probably growing long enough as it
is. Suffice it to say that I feel like there's a whole complex
underlying his aims, specific fallacies that he's valuable for
refuting, and chief among them is this idea that it's more authentic
or more emotional to watch people do than it is to watch them
think -- a concept that's largely alien to me, because my
primary joy in art and words comes from the fact that they alone can
serve as a conduit of people's thoughts.
That said, Holiday is, like, the greatest thing ever, except
maybe the Dean Wareham song on the first 6ths album.
― Nitsuh, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Sean, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
For me, the emotion level doesn't enter into it in my dislike of the
Fields. I think that Merrit's lyrics are obnoxious and overreaching -
I personally don't think his overvaunted wit is much of anything. I
find the sound to be unforgivable. And Merrit's vocals are enough to
make me shoot someone (and his choices in fellow vocalists are only a
step above him). It all really boils down to the sound of it, for me -
it sounds like a perfect sonic description of everything I hate
about music. I can't describe it any more than that.
But yes, I agree that the concentration on that above all else is a
mistake. I'm a Merritt agnostic, though, and I find that, far too
often, the songs feel like an intellectual exercise. I find myself
jerked out of any engagament with them by a recognition of the
technique, which is so foregrounded in 69LS that I, like Mark, can
appreciate the thing without ever getting anywhere near to loving it.
I'm generally reluctant to talk about literature, but maybe a
parallel's with Georges Perec, whose literary career largely
concerned rules and constraints. His 'Life A User's Manual' is may
favourite novel ever: it succeeds in engaging me in both form and
content where his 'A Void' fails to overcome its constraint
(outrageously, omitting the letter e completely) amd ends up an
interesting lexical exercise.
"Strange Powers", on the other hand, has strange powers over me.
― Tim, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― anthony, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
As for Mark's comments, I'd offer the following sort of over-
theoretical explanation of what is actually a fairly obvious
concept. In aesthetics, I think, there are many instances in which
going very far in one direction actually brings you around to its
opposite -- my best examples of which are those sprightly, bouncy
Cure songs that somehow seem like the logical end-point of gloom and
frustration, toeing the inevitable line between "manic"
and "depressed." With regard to my comments above, I'd say that
Merritt, lyrically, manages to do exactly that w/r/t "emotional
connection" and "spontaneity," . . . actually, I have to do something
now, so I can't finish this thought. Suffice it to say that a line
like "come back from San Francisco / and kiss me, I've quit smoking /
I miss doing the wild thing with you" is pretty hard to call stilted
or distant or emotionless or something-you-can't-relate to -- this is
about as plain and everyday an emotional admission as you could
possibly want from a song.
― Ronan, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
I regard Merritt almost as Morrissey once used to regard himself - in
terms of finality, endings, and tying things up. The MFs mean a great
deal to me, partly because of my investment in "the pop song", which
(investment) has only been clarified and intensified (not dissipated)
by (eventually) hearing them.
From my POV, 69LS is a Very Major Event In Pop History. Holiday, on
the other hand, I think is close to his weakest work ever.
>>> I appreciated that particular articulation more than, in the
past, I've appreciated a lot of articulations of why people *like*
the [MFs'] music.
― absolutely cuckoo, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
I can't give a technical explanation right now but Gershwin's "I'll
Build a Stairway to Paradise" sounds like a 20s melody to me, "White
Rabbit" like a 60s melody, "Bizarre Love Triangle" like an 80s melody.
When the Bangles covered "Hazy Shade of Winter," it still sounded
like a 60s melody. When Frente did an acoustic version of "BLT" in
the 90s it still sounded like an 80s melody. Has to do, I think, with
the lengths of the phrases and the intervals chosen.
Lo-fi isn't a problem for me. I don't think 69LS is more lo-fi
than my favourite Sonic Youth albums. It's definitely more hi-fi than
anything I've done! The guitar line on "Boa Constrictor," which is
probably as good as the playing gets on the set, strikes me as
competent not exceptional. I definitely think there's more musical
substance to the MF when they go electronic. "Ability" was probably a
poor choice of terms on my part - "accomplishment" maybe.
I'm assuming that the recent posts defending SM's lyrics are in
response to Mark's criticisms and not to mine because my problem
wasn't with Merritt trying to be witty and ironic and crafty and
distanced. I was in fact looking for witty, well-crafted pop
songwriting. I think I just generally find that too often they offer
romantic tropes, stock situations, and non-reflexive (is
that a real term?) self-pity. Or something like that. I like that
the Smiths could create characters with whom you could empathize but
also realize their (and your) failings and errors - I like my
self-pity with a level of self-consciousness.
I hate the Cure's lyrics for their romantic melodrama.
(Rock ballads that I like I think I usually like despite the lyrics.)
"Come back from San Fransisco/And kiss me I've quit smoking" was one
of the best moments on the set I thought -- it was too bad it had to
be followed by "I miss doing the wild thing with you."
.. "My Heart's Runnin' Round Like a Chicken With Its Head Cut Off" -
that's the tune I can't shake.
They're great live - but 69LS didn't do much for me. Not that I
thought it was drivel - I just never got into it like Holiday
or Get Lost.
― Dave225, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
Sonically I enjoy them as well. Summer Lies and Busby Berkly Dreams
are beautiful songs, even without words.
― Jeff, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Ian, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
i rather like the Magnetic Fields now. I still only own that one
album. I may have listened to the whole album, every song back to
back, once. I don't care whther it's sincere or clever. It has some
catchy little tunes for me, and i like the fact that it's a jumbled
mess, like a big box full of broken toys.
i rather like the Eggers comparison, even though i don't want to get
into the cleverness for its own sake mode, as i may have managed to
avoid thinking of the Magnetic Fields critically altogether, and been
healthier for it in this specific case.
― badger, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
― Sterling Clover, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
It might be me, but from what I can tell from a lot of lines being
quoted here in Merritt's defense, *they're* pretty melodramatic as
well. In which case, what is more important, the song or how it is
But is that enough reason to care? I realize I'm having (self-amused)
fun by bringing up these points, but still, I seem to have moved from
a point last year where I believed people really did care about the
MFs to now, where I'm actually not so sure about that anymore. I
don't doubt anyone's sincerity here, I should note, but there's
something odd about this debate that seems to be focusing less about
Merritt and his work and more about how to read him. And surely the
answer to that question is -- however the hell you want to.
But what I was about to post was this:
Actually, the more I think about it, part of the thrill of his
material is that it essentially dares you to reject his texts,
dares you to assume he's kidding -- much of the enjoyment I take from
his lyrics lies in the fact that his authorial stance allows him to
lay out lines of such straightforward clarity that they seem almost
taboo if interpreted as "sincerity." (The taboo, of course, being
the long-running post-Elvis "Thou shalt not employ formal rhetorical
devices in popular music.") I'm not levelling this charge at anyone
here, but I feel as if I've met quite a few people -- Mag Fields fans
and haters alike -- whose opinions on Merritt are solely based on
their inability to take certain tropes seriously: they either find
him wonderfully funny/clever or insufferably funny/clever because
it's not occurred to them that his more surprising metaphors may not
be intended as humor. But I'm going to resign from this thread and
take that thought home to work on it some more, because I feel like
there's something to it -- some sort of rebellion-through-structure
thing -- that is key to my appreciation of a whole lot of different
bits of music.
As a specific response to the standard lyrical criticisms, I'd submit
69 Love Songs' "Meaningless," one of the finest fuck-you songs
I've heard in years. But then again, this thread is tending toward
a "Lyrical Aspects of 69 Love Songs" classic or dud rather
than an actual Mag Fields classic or dud, so . . . let's talk about
*adopts Bugs Bunny voice* Ain't I a STINKER? (As opposed to a
some sort of rebellion-through-structure thing
"Hey hey, you think it's a puncture/Turning rebellion into structure."
Er, anyway. A rebellion through structure? *considers* ...I'm leery
of such approaches, or rather the way of phrasing that, seems to be
the eternal problem of exchanging one ideology for another and back
Among some folks I know, that is precisely the answer. ;-) But
that's your point as well, natch. I guess anything could be
rebellion, but that implies there's something to rebel *against* --
and with me and my r.s. nature, I'd argue that's chasing at shadows.
I wouldn't so much see it as rebelling against something as reacting
to it -- the idea of rebelling being a self-contained construct.
Musician to self: "Lo! I respond to the tyranny of presumed
Outside viewpoint: "A tyranny existed?"
Maybe i'll post something longer tomorrow. i'm lost for words,
all you dud-sayers.
― Alan at home, Tuesday, 30 October 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link
We're evil that way. Death to consensus! ;-)
It might be me, but from what I can tell from a lot of lines being
quoted here in Merritt's defense, *they're* pretty melodramatic as
Well, yeah, that was sort of my point. That once you get past the
concept and the cleverness it's the same old same old.
Some very provocative titles here, though
― Paul Ponzi, Wednesday, 26 February 2020 00:41 (one year ago) link
Fido, your songs are too short.
worked for Bob Pollard
― brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 26 February 2020 01:03 (one year ago) link
I want to join a biker gangI want to be in a gang bangI like my empty life but dangI want to join a biker gang
― ... (Eazy), Saturday, 18 April 2020 03:49 (one year ago) link
― ... (Eazy), Saturday, 18 April 2020 14:34 (one year ago) link
LD Beghtol has passed:
Rest In Peace, LD Beghtol. I’m sorry we never finished our collaboration. pic.twitter.com/6zLbkAi6ZK— 50PoundNote (Jeb) (@50_pound_note) December 8, 2020
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 8 December 2020 04:13 (nine months ago) link
Oh no :(
― wet tip hen ax (egg drop mix) (morrisp), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 04:18 (nine months ago) link
Is there any other info (or context/confirmation) beyond this single tweet? I can't find anything.
― wet tip hen ax (egg drop mix) (morrisp), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 04:25 (nine months ago) link
I know Jeb and trust him as the source -- LD was apparently found in his apartment but there's no other details. Apparently he did catch COVID in summer, hopefully this wasn't something related to that.
― Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 8 December 2020 04:30 (nine months ago) link
(That further info from Jeb directly.)
Thanks... how sad
― wet tip hen ax (egg drop mix) (morrisp), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 04:33 (nine months ago) link
I will forever cherish "All My Little Words." Just too sad.
― TO BE A JAZZ SINGER YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO SCAT (Jazzbo), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 20:21 (nine months ago) link
Ah crap. One of my favorite gigs of all-time was the two-day complete "69 Love Songs". It was such an incredibly joyful experience, Claudia was radiating happiness and fun.
Any of LD's other vocal work recommended?
― Gerald McBoing-Boing, Tuesday, 8 December 2020 21:24 (nine months ago) link
You could check out Flare if you like 'twee chamber pop' of any descriptionhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPLBPOIP1xI
― Lamont Dozier Dream House (Deflatormouse), Wednesday, 9 December 2020 02:41 (nine months ago) link
His 33⅓ on 69 is good.
― huge rant (sic), Wednesday, 9 December 2020 04:13 (nine months ago) link
listened to "all my little words" for the first time in forever when i saw this news. i think there's still no one i would trust more to do a perfect 2 and a half minutes.
― call all destroyer, Wednesday, 9 December 2020 04:25 (nine months ago) link
really sad about this, it's hard to process. his voice & presence on those songs (thinking of "My Sentimental Melody" too) meant so much, more than I ever consciously realized.
― swing out sister: live in new donk city (geoffreyess), Wednesday, 9 December 2020 04:55 (nine months ago) link
"All My Little Words" is so simple but so perfect. RIP
― it bangs for thee (Simon H.), Wednesday, 9 December 2020 05:10 (nine months ago) link
I've at last fully listened to the CD of QUICKIES (2020).
An observation: every one of the 28 songs is a comedy song. We expect irony and drollery from Merritt. But amid the jokes I might also have expected a 30-second flash of plaintive pathos, or 48 seconds of surprisingly raw emotion set to a toy piano. He doesn't deliver that here. It's all black comedy.
I still rather like the way that he uses old-school syntactical precision, in a way unlike anyone else in pop - so that the words in a pop song have the grammar of, say, an article in a 1950s literary journal (if not something much older like Hazlitt or Hawthorne). Indeed I sense that this is something that's developed over Merritt's career - you really don't hear it so much in the 1990s work; it's really only noticeable more recently.
― the pinefox, Saturday, 14 August 2021 10:49 (one month ago) link
That's kind of how I described this album to a friend a few weeks ago. Every song is a little joke, but none of them are particularly funny. And maaaaybe you get a little of that old Merritt pathos in "She Says Hello," but that's the only thing close to a keeper here for me.
― Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Monday, 16 August 2021 18:08 (one month ago) link
Every song is a little joke, but none of them are particularly funny.
I feel like his stuff always had this quality tbh
― Dexter Holland's Opus (Deflatormouse), Monday, 16 August 2021 19:59 (one month ago) link
I mean I think he's brilliant but there's always been this sense that they think their jokes are a lot funnier than they actually are, that's not a recent development.
― Dexter Holland's Opus (Deflatormouse), Monday, 16 August 2021 20:02 (one month ago) link
I think it's a gradual mutation that's gotten them to this point, where the songs are all joke, no ache. They were most of the way there with Love at the Bottom of the Sea, and then Bob Hurwitz from Nonesuch pitched Merritt the 50 Song Memoir concept, which helped stall the transformation (I always imagine this was Hurwitz's intention), but now here we are with Quickies.
― Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Monday, 16 August 2021 21:44 (one month ago) link
"It's Only Time" came up on my Spotify a recently, and I played it over and over. It feels, like almost every MF song does, like a genre exercise, ironic and detached, but damn if it doesn't succeed magnificently as a straight ahead love song
― cerebral halsey (rip van wanko), Tuesday, 17 August 2021 00:28 (one month ago) link
I totally get that, it's such a beautiful song
― erasingclouds, Tuesday, 17 August 2021 03:44 (one month ago) link
I didn't know that 50 SONG MEMOIR was someone else's idea. I don't agree that it 'stalled Merritt's transformation' by being more sincere (if that's what's suggested). I'm afraid I think it's practically his worst LP, especially taken pound for pound, proportionately, or whatever - I mean it's about 20% good.
I think TMF *stage banter* has always been much less funny than they think - and people laugh along with it and think it's delightful that they're saying these actually quite dull things. That's been the case for decades. But I don't think that's true of the songs.
LOVE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, yes, it's true that that had unfunny jokes - 'I'd go anywhere with Hugh', 'I'm going back to the country' - that don't compare with anything on 69LS. (Though the LP is still not all bad.)
Again I think the odd thing is just that Merritt hasn't kept a bit of the 'ache' element along with the comedy - as we all know how well he can do it. I should play 'She Says Hello' again.
― the pinefox, Tuesday, 17 August 2021 06:59 (one month ago) link
Not suggesting 50SM is more sincere, necessarily, just that it's not primarily comedy songs. I thought it was probably his worst LP after the first time I listened to it, but it's really grown on me since then. It's almost hard to think of it as a Magnetic Fields album, though -- I like it as a musical about a weird music geek written by a weird music geek and performed in the style of the Magnetic Fields. Another way you could look at it is that even if it's only 20% good, that's still 10 good songs, which isn't bad for a latter-day Merritt record. :)
And yeah, Love at the Bottom of the Sea wasn't all bad! Also helped that it sounded really good to my ears, especially coming off of the "no synths" trilogy.
― Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Tuesday, 17 August 2021 16:13 (one month ago) link
Another way you could look at it is that even if it's only 20% good, that's still 10 good songs, which isn't bad for a latter-day Merritt record. :)
That's a good statement.
And it's notable that so many of us (?) seem to have the same feeling of a decline in quality.
Having said this: does it even contain 10 good songs? That would be a list worth making.
― the pinefox, Tuesday, 17 August 2021 16:47 (one month ago) link
Some of the titles are not even summoning tunes for me now. And this after playing it a lot in the past.
These songs, I think are at least OK:
Rock'n'Roll Will Ruin Your LifeFoxx and IHow I Failed EthicsEthan FromeDreaming in TetrisLovers' LiesFathers in the CloudsGhosts of the Marathon DancersHave You Seen It in the Snow?The Ex and INever AgainQuotesYou Can Never Go Back to New YorkI Wish I Had Pictures
That's 14! And there might even be one or two more ... but still I don't think I'm setting a very high bar here.
― the pinefox, Tuesday, 17 August 2021 16:52 (one month ago) link
Many of those would make my list of favorites (with Foxx and I at the very top). I'd have to include Hustle 76 (I was in Magnetic Fields cover band when 50SM came out and this is the only song from the album we worked on for possible inclusion in our set, but ultimately we dropped it), Life Ain't All Bad, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea too. I hear that last one as a bit of tribute to Scott Miller, who'd recently passed -- Merritt's said he tried to write a lot of fake Scott Miller songs in his pre-Magnetic Fields days, and it seems like he took the San Francisco setting of this song as a cue to give that another shot.
― Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Wednesday, 18 August 2021 14:10 (one month ago) link
I always thought Sweet-Lovin' Man was a Donnette-Thayer-sings-Scott-Miller pastiche.
― Halfway there but for you, Wednesday, 18 August 2021 14:36 (one month ago) link
Magnetic Fields cover band!
I'd go and see that!
― the pinefox, Wednesday, 18 August 2021 17:27 (one month ago) link
My iTunes today randomly played 'they're killing children over there'. I thought: this is actually good, in various ways, and the melody stayed with me for hours.
― the pinefox, Wednesday, 18 August 2021 17:28 (one month ago) link
I think I'm going to delve back properly into this LP, maybe playing it all at random for days. I'll try to form a better view on the songs that CAPTCHAS mentions, which I don't now remember at all.
― the pinefox, Wednesday, 18 August 2021 17:29 (one month ago) link
Cool! Yeah, I think driving around listening to it on random like I used to do with 69LS helped me appreciate it more.
That hadn't occurred to me but now that you mention it I can definitely hear a connection between it and "Wyoming."
― Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Wednesday, 18 August 2021 20:19 (one month ago) link
I have always been able to appreciate 69LS consecutively, on CD. I don't even really associate it with random play.
Whereas - 50SM seems basically lower quality or less enjoyable overall, and maybe would benefit from elements of random surprise.
Today I just played the first few songs. I was surprised how good the opener 'wonder where I'm from' is. 'Killing children' as noted, has something, and btw the intro strikes me as a joke on 'Seven Nation Army'. The highlight I think must be 'Judy Garland' - the closest thing to a major song here? With the great line 'Let's try: None of the above'.
Then again ...
"'67 Come Back as a Cockroach", "'68 A Cat Called Dionysus" and worst of all, "'72 Eye Contact" - it's hard to justify even playing these tracks.
― the pinefox, Thursday, 19 August 2021 11:09 (four weeks ago) link
Reports that Susan Amway has passed away - heartbreaking.
Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Susan Anway, vocalist with the Magnetic Fields, among others. My heart always breaks hearing this song; now for new reasons.https://t.co/YHIWPd2Xh8— Daniel Handler (@DanielHandler) September 8, 2021
― etc, Wednesday, 8 September 2021 21:33 (one week ago) link
Oh man, the version of “Take Ecstasy with Me” with her on vocals blew me away as a teenager, might still be my favorite track they ever did. That’s so sad.
― JoeStork, Wednesday, 8 September 2021 21:48 (one week ago) link
This is horrible. 100,000 Fireflies is my favorite song.
― treeship., Wednesday, 8 September 2021 22:13 (one week ago) link
Oh no...A quick web search turns this up: https://www.echovita.com/us/obituaries/fl/north-fort-myers/mary-susan-anway-13296211She was 70. I remember some interview with Stephin where he did mention that Susan was a bit older than the rest of them (I didn't realize it was that much.)If there was ever a life-changing song for me, "100,000 Fireflies" was it, in 1993 via the "...One Last Kiss" compilation.Years later I was at a Pauline Oliveros workshop, and she told everyone there to think of your very favorite song that you know by heart and everyone would each sing their own favorite simultaneously, one syllable at a time, using one long breath for each syllable; at that moment, I decided that "Smoke Signals" was my favorite song. Now, "Dancing in My Eyes" gets me every time, especially Susan's delivery of the rising melody of the line "We will dance in the autumn with the leaves in our hair."I remember another interview with Stephin where he said he liked the way that Susan could sound happy, sad, or blank. Then Stephin mentioned that he could only sound sad. Then he mentioned that he wanted to be able to sound blank.Ok, going to listen to those first two albums now...
― ernestp, Thursday, 9 September 2021 02:58 (one week ago) link
She also sang in the group V; (that's a "V" followed by a semicolon)."1926" is absolutely stunning:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPE2CLBvjiI"Your god hates me / He can't feel my flesh / He leaves me panting like a dog at the edge of your bed"
― ernestp, Thursday, 9 September 2021 03:03 (one week ago) link
Oh wow. Some days Distant Plastic Trees is my favourite thing ever but I never really learned anything about the vocalist before today. So sad. It's obviously time to play my old twofer CD. Much of it makes me misty-eyed at the best of times...
― Nag! Nag! Nag!, Thursday, 9 September 2021 07:50 (one week ago) link
Sad, second major Magnetic Fields contributor in two years ... RIP.
― Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 9 September 2021 12:17 (one week ago) link
The first two LPs, with her, are indeed special and magnificent - among the greatest pop achievements of their era, or, I'm inclined to say, any era.
She did something, on those records, that no-one else has ever done, and perhaps no-one else ever could do.
― the pinefox, Thursday, 9 September 2021 13:18 (one week ago) link
Yup, there really is something about them that feels magical, and a lot of it is down to her vocals.
She also sang in the group V; (that's a "V" followed by a semicolon)."1926" is absolutely stunning:
OK this is blowing my mind. I'm well acquainted with Thalia Zedek's version of "1926," but had no idea it was a cover, let alone a cover of song originally sung by Susan Anway. Thanks for sharing this!
If anyone hasn't heard the original "Crowd of Drifters" with Anway on vocals, which was, I believe, the first officially released Magnetic Fields song (on a compilation from 1990 that was apparently reissued last year: https://emergencyhearts.bandcamp.com/album/doctor-deaths-vol-iv-the-marvels-of-insect-life), it is a thing of beauty:
― Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Thursday, 9 September 2021 15:40 (one week ago) link
on a compilation from 1990 that was apparently reissued last year: https://emergencyhearts.bandcamp.com/album/doctor-deaths-vol-iv-the-marvels-of-insect-life),
I really love this particular segment of 90s indie linguistic style where on a comp like this it's impossible to tell which is the band name and which is the song title unless you're already familiar with the band
― Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 9 September 2021 15:43 (one week ago) link
Thanks for the 1926 link, Ernest.
― bobo honkin' slobo babe (sic), Thursday, 9 September 2021 16:03 (one week ago) link
I know quite a lot of TMF obscurities - but I still don't think I had heard Anway sing 'crowd of drifters'.
There's something about the very early years of this band that's to me deeply intriguing - and deeply rooted in a US indie scene that they would later, perhaps, try to disavow or at least leave behind.
― the pinefox, Friday, 10 September 2021 09:57 (one week ago) link
― the pinefox, Friday, September 10, 2021 9:57 AM
Quite regional scenes as well - I'd also not heard V; before, or taken followed other Boston indie breadrcrumbs to the original "Babies Falling":
Still embarrassed at butchering Susan's surname above. Does anyone know why her version of "Plant White Roses" was left off all the Distant Plastic Trees reissues over the years?
― etc, Saturday, 11 September 2021 03:50 (one week ago) link
Fondly remember the time she replied to a RYM thread that was asking for any information about where she had disappeared after 1992Apparently she had become a blacksmithI've never been able to say which of the first two albums I prefer but they're also my favorites
― Nabozo, Saturday, 11 September 2021 06:23 (one week ago) link
An original 'Babies Falling'! Incredible!
Yes, this kind of thing shows so much about where the extraordinary Merritt vision came from; how it was actually more rooted than it seems.
In theory perhaps 50 SONG MEMOIR is about that, but its songs are too often not interesting enough to convey it.
― the pinefox, Saturday, 11 September 2021 10:10 (one week ago) link