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The Tragic Treasury

News & Reviews

  • Stephin Merritt, Laurie Anderson to Participate in San Francisco "Talking Music" Series

    Stephin Merritt and Laurie Anderson will each participate in the Talking Music series of conversations and performances from San Francisco's City Arts & Lectures, held at the Herbst Theatre. Stephin will open the season on September 11 in conversation and song hosted by Lemony Snicket author and fellow Gothic Archie Daniel Handler; Laurie will talk with music journalist Michael Azerrad for the season closer in April. In between are talks and performances by artists like Barbara Cook, Michael Tilson Thomas, Neko Case, and Okkervil River's Will Sheff.

  • LA Times Welcomes Stephin Merritt to Town

    Long a fixture in New York City, Stephin Merritt has recently set up home in Los Angeles as well, and, writes Los Angeles Times staff writer Richard Cromelin, in a feature profile of the songwriter in this Sunday's paper, "his presence has enhanced L.A.'s creative landscape."

About this Album

For seven years, Stephin Merritt (Magnetic Fields) has been recording songs under the band name The Gothic Archies for the audiobooks of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the popular children's series by his friend Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket). The Tragic Treasury: Songs from a Series of Unfortunate Events collects these 13 gloomy and hilarious songs, plus two bonus tracks, including a depressingly upbeat theme song, “We Are the Gothic Archies.” Merritt wrote and recorded all the music, with accordion by Lemony Snicket. The Tragic Treasury was first made available on Nonesuch October 10, 2006, in conjunction with the Friday the 13th release date of Snicket’s 13th and final book, The End, from HarperCollins Publishers. 

The Tragic Treasury includes a song for each one of the 13 books in A Series of Unfortunate Events. For example, “In the Reptile Room” accompanies Book the Second: The Reptile Room. “Things Are Not What They Appear” accompanies Book the Twelfth: The Penultimate Peril, and “Freakshow” accompanies Book the Ninth: The Carnivorous Carnival. The song “Scream and Run Away” (from Book the First: The Bad Beginning), has long been a favorite at Lemony Snicket events, with Handler performing on his accordion and the children in the audience acting out the lyrics, including pretending to fall dead in their seats. For all these songs, Merritt evokes distinct images and characters from the books to re-enact the “unfortunate events” at the core of Snicket’s stories.

The Gothic Archies, whose last release was the 1997 EP The New Despair, is the Goth-bubblegum pop band of celebrated songwriter Stephin Merritt, also of The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, and Future Bible Heroes. In 1999, the Magnetic Fields' three-CD collection 69 Love Songs established Merritt as one of this generation's most talented songwriters. i, the band's critically acclaimed seventh album, was released on Nonesuch Records in 2004. Other works include Merritt's theater music album, Showtunes (a compilation of three music theater pieces directed by Chen Shi-Zheng: The Orphan of Zhao, Peach Blossom Fan, and My Life As a Fairy Tale) the soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley, and Pieces of April.

The author Lemony Snicket is the creation of Daniel Handler, who also publishes adult books under his own name. Merritt and Handler met years ago, when Handler performed accordion on The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs. Handler felt that Merritt’s songwriting sensibilities would fit well with the Snicket books, and thus began the creative collaboration documented on this recording.


Stephin Merritt
Lemony Snicket, accordion
John Woo, electric sitar

Recorded and mixed by Charles Newman and Stephin Merritt at Mother West and Polar West, NYC
Additional editing: Robert Stevens
Mastering: Jeff Lipton at Peerless, Boston

All music written by Stephin Merritt

Designer: Rob Hult
Illustrations from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Brett Helquist, ©1999–2006 Brett Helquist. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

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