50 Song Memoir

Submitted by nonesuch on Wed, 11/09/2016 - 14:35
Release Date
DescriptionExcerpt

The Magnetic Fields' 50 Song Memoir chronicles the 50 years of songwriter Stephin Merritt's life with one song per year. He sings vocals on all 50 songs and plays more than 100 instruments, from ukulele to piano to drum machine to abacus. Unlike his previous work, the lyrics are nonfiction—a mix of autobiography (bedbugs, Buddhism, buggery) and documentary (hippies, Hollywood, hyperacusis). Available in five-LP and five-CD editions including a 100-page book with an extensive interview by Daniel Handler and facsimile handwritten lyrics by Merritt, and as a standalone book with a full-album download card. It's "quite an achievement," says NPR. The Wall Street Journal calls it "a highly entertaining summary of pop culture of the past half-century ... 50 Song Memoir is a treat."

Description

Nonesuch Records releases the Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir on March 10, 2017. The five-CD / five-LP set 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. On tour, the Magnetic Fields perform the 50 Song Memoir over two nights per city, beginning Friday and Saturday, November 18 and 19, 2016, at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, and continuing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on December 2 and 3. Further dates begin in spring 2017. 50 Song Memoir is available in five-LP and five-CD editions including a 100-page book with 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 his friend, the author Daniel 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 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, 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 twelve 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 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.

ProductionCredits

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by Stephin Merritt
Additional production by Thomas Bartlett and Charles Newman
Recorded by:
Stephin Merritt and Gabrielle Valenti at New Wave Life (Hudson)
Thomas Bartlett at the Dwelling (Manhattan)
Charles Newman at Mother West (Brooklyn)
Jay Pellicci, Gabriel Sheppard, JJ Wiesler, and Charles Newman at Decibelle (San Francisco)
Benny Grotto and Steph Durwin at Mad Oak (Allston)
Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering (Boston)
Assistant Mastering Engineer: Maria Rice

Cover art: Alix Merritt
Liner notes: Daniel Handler
Design: Evan Gaffney
Photography: Arnulfo Maldonado, Catalina Kulczar, Stephin Merritt

Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz

Nonesuch Selection Number

558154

ns_album_releasedate
Album Status
Artist Name
The Magnetic Fields
MusicianDetails

MUSICIANS
Stephin Merritt (in order of appearance), National resonator ukulele, bass ukulele, all lead vocals, bass drum, log drum, slit drum, cymbal, woodblock, tambourine, bells, sleigh bells, cabasa, bottle, glockenspiel, cavaquinho, Joia Tubes, Dusty Strings harp, Farfisa organ, Dusty Strings hammer dulcimer, Kazoobie kazoo, Veillette Avante Gryphon guitar, AdrenaLinn drum machine, Tempest drum machine, Andes melodica, Realistic organ, Sequential Circuits Pro One synthesizer, Danelectro baritone guitar, mandola, Rhythm Ace drum machine, Harmony bass, Almeira classical guitar, Wurlitzer electric piano, thunder sheet, Rhodes Piano Bass, Oscar Schmidt autoharp, Oberheim OB-12 synthesizer, Kamaka 8-string ukulele, feedback, Congost Xylomatic, Simcha tongs, Roland JP-8000 synthesizer, tapes, TomCat drum machine, shakers, Fender acoustic bass, Roland TB-303 bass computer, Roland TR-606 Drumatix drum machine, Vermona DRM-1, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer, Adam bell set, bowed psaltery, Roland vocoder, xylophone, EML 101 synthesizer, Roland TR-707 drum machine, Dawg electric dulcimer, Oberheim drum machine, LP Trash Snare, cowbell, bar chime, Metasonix D-1000 drum machine, Gretsch organ, Rheem Kee Bass, guiro, djembe, cajon, bell stick, LP Street Cans, electric sitar, Martin 12-string guitar, XBASE 999 drum machine, Yamaha CS-60 synthesizer, Dewanatron Keyed Melody Gin, Moog Voyager synthesizer, Schoenhut toy piano, Virus Access synthesizer, Gold Tone bass banjo, Metasonix S-1000 Wretch Machine vacuum tube synthesizer, Marxolin, metals, one-man band, Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano, charango, celeste, Fender Stratocaster, Yamaha RX21 drum machine, Fender acoustic bass, Yamaha U4 piano, hihat, wind chime, Hohner Pianet, Kilpatrick Audio Pattern Generator, Dewanatron Triple Slice, prepared piano, Korg Sigma synthesizer, zill, triangle, Suzuki Omnichord, ARP String Synthesizer, Baldwin organ, Casio VL-Tone, ocean drum, Korg KR mini drum machine, abacus

Thomas Bartlett, Mellotron, Clavinet, Suzuki Omnichord, Rhodes Bass, piano, Moog, iPad, Optigan, Teenage Engineering OP-1, Akai Music Production Controller
Daniel Handler, background vocals, accordion, vibraphone, Yamaha and Acrosonic pianos, Hammond B3 organ, celeste
Christopher Ewen, Altair 231, Andromeda A6, Syndrum, Heterodyne Synth, electric kazoo, anklung, Roland SH-101, Stylophone, BugBrand Synth, K-Station, Suzuki Omnichord, Polysix
Sam Davol, cello, circular saw
Johny Blood, flugelhorn, tuba, mouthpiece
Claudia Gonson, background vocals, piano
Pinky Weitzman, viola, Stroh violin, musical saw
John Woo, Martin HD-28, Truetone Speed Demon, Fender Telecaster
Shirley Simms, background vocals
Randy Walker, background vocals
Anthony Kaczynski, background vocals
Brad Gordon, trombone, pocket trumpet
Otto Handler, spoken word

Cover Art
UPC/Price
Label
5LP+MP3
Price
105.00
UPC
075597940848
Label
5CD+MP3
Price
38.00
UPC
075597940831
Label
Book+MP3
UPC
075597939385
Label
FLAC
Price
31.00
UPC
075597940879
Label
MP3
Price
30.00
UPC
075597940893
  • 558154

Track Listing

News & Reviews

  • The Magnetic Fields will tour the US next spring following a four-city tour of Latin America this December. The band closes out 2022 with concerts in Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina. The spring run of US shows starts with two nights in Denver, March 17 and 18, followed by dates in Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Austin, St. Louis (two nights), Cleveland, and Pittsburgh (two nights), culminating at City Winery Hudson Valley on April 3.

  • The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt is on the new Talkhouse podcast series Listening. On the show, curated by Elia Einhorn, artists are invited to share their perspective on how they listen to the world and how that informs the music they make. They also create a new composition for the episode and discuss the creative process behind it. “Witty, guarded, cynical, loving, heartsick, and tender—this is Stephin Merritt, or at least what we hear in the songs he pens for his acclaimed band The Magnetic Fields,” says Einhorn. You can hear their conversation and the song Merritt wrote for the show here. The Magnetic Fields kick off the next leg of their UK and European tour on August 31.

  • About This Album

    Nonesuch Records releases the Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir on March 10, 2017. The five-CD / five-LP set 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. On tour, the Magnetic Fields perform the 50 Song Memoir over two nights per city, beginning Friday and Saturday, November 18 and 19, 2016, at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, and continuing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on December 2 and 3. Further dates begin in spring 2017. 50 Song Memoir is available in five-LP and five-CD editions including a 100-page book with 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 his friend, the author Daniel 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 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, 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 twelve 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 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.

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Stephin Merritt (in order of appearance), National resonator ukulele, bass ukulele, all lead vocals, bass drum, log drum, slit drum, cymbal, woodblock, tambourine, bells, sleigh bells, cabasa, bottle, glockenspiel, cavaquinho, Joia Tubes, Dusty Strings harp, Farfisa organ, Dusty Strings hammer dulcimer, Kazoobie kazoo, Veillette Avante Gryphon guitar, AdrenaLinn drum machine, Tempest drum machine, Andes melodica, Realistic organ, Sequential Circuits Pro One synthesizer, Danelectro baritone guitar, mandola, Rhythm Ace drum machine, Harmony bass, Almeira classical guitar, Wurlitzer electric piano, thunder sheet, Rhodes Piano Bass, Oscar Schmidt autoharp, Oberheim OB-12 synthesizer, Kamaka 8-string ukulele, feedback, Congost Xylomatic, Simcha tongs, Roland JP-8000 synthesizer, tapes, TomCat drum machine, shakers, Fender acoustic bass, Roland TB-303 bass computer, Roland TR-606 Drumatix drum machine, Vermona DRM-1, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer, Adam bell set, bowed psaltery, Roland vocoder, xylophone, EML 101 synthesizer, Roland TR-707 drum machine, Dawg electric dulcimer, Oberheim drum machine, LP Trash Snare, cowbell, bar chime, Metasonix D-1000 drum machine, Gretsch organ, Rheem Kee Bass, guiro, djembe, cajon, bell stick, LP Street Cans, electric sitar, Martin 12-string guitar, XBASE 999 drum machine, Yamaha CS-60 synthesizer, Dewanatron Keyed Melody Gin, Moog Voyager synthesizer, Schoenhut toy piano, Virus Access synthesizer, Gold Tone bass banjo, Metasonix S-1000 Wretch Machine vacuum tube synthesizer, Marxolin, metals, one-man band, Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano, charango, celeste, Fender Stratocaster, Yamaha RX21 drum machine, Fender acoustic bass, Yamaha U4 piano, hihat, wind chime, Hohner Pianet, Kilpatrick Audio Pattern Generator, Dewanatron Triple Slice, prepared piano, Korg Sigma synthesizer, zill, triangle, Suzuki Omnichord, ARP String Synthesizer, Baldwin organ, Casio VL-Tone, ocean drum, Korg KR mini drum machine, abacus

    Thomas Bartlett, Mellotron, Clavinet, Suzuki Omnichord, Rhodes Bass, piano, Moog, iPad, Optigan, Teenage Engineering OP-1, Akai Music Production Controller
    Daniel Handler, background vocals, accordion, vibraphone, Yamaha and Acrosonic pianos, Hammond B3 organ, celeste
    Christopher Ewen, Altair 231, Andromeda A6, Syndrum, Heterodyne Synth, electric kazoo, anklung, Roland SH-101, Stylophone, BugBrand Synth, K-Station, Suzuki Omnichord, Polysix
    Sam Davol, cello, circular saw
    Johny Blood, flugelhorn, tuba, mouthpiece
    Claudia Gonson, background vocals, piano
    Pinky Weitzman, viola, Stroh violin, musical saw
    John Woo, Martin HD-28, Truetone Speed Demon, Fender Telecaster
    Shirley Simms, background vocals
    Randy Walker, background vocals
    Anthony Kaczynski, background vocals
    Brad Gordon, trombone, pocket trumpet
    Otto Handler, spoken word

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Produced by Stephin Merritt
    Additional production by Thomas Bartlett and Charles Newman
    Recorded by:
    Stephin Merritt and Gabrielle Valenti at New Wave Life (Hudson)
    Thomas Bartlett at the Dwelling (Manhattan)
    Charles Newman at Mother West (Brooklyn)
    Jay Pellicci, Gabriel Sheppard, JJ Wiesler, and Charles Newman at Decibelle (San Francisco)
    Benny Grotto and Steph Durwin at Mad Oak (Allston)
    Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering (Boston)
    Assistant Mastering Engineer: Maria Rice

    Cover art: Alix Merritt
    Liner notes: Daniel Handler
    Design: Evan Gaffney
    Photography: Arnulfo Maldonado, Catalina Kulczar, Stephin Merritt

    Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz