Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields catalogues a life in verse with 50 songs, each dedicated to one of his years on earth – taking us through his first quarter century.
With black humour and disarming frankness, Merritt guides us on a chronological journey through his life. From his birth, via enforced beatnik Buddhist retreats, to stumbling back from glamorous excess of 80s New York discos – his deep, affectingly deadpan bass tells a personal history through understatedly theatrical Pop miniatures.
It’s not Merritt’s first time undertaking such a gargantuan and unique project. His writing for The Magnetic Fields often has a conceptual structure and focus – their breakthrough record 69 Love Songs was, as the name suggests, a collection of 69 love songs, while 2004’s i contained songs whose titles each began with the letter ‘I’. This project presents the live rendition of 50 Song Memoir, a five-disc chronicle of the songwriter’s first 50 years on earth.
Performed over two nights, this stage extravaganza is directed by the award-winning Jose Zayas (Love in the Time of Cholera, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter).
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).
The whole album will be performed over two nights:
Part A (songs 1 - 25) on Thu 7 Sep
Part B (songs 26 - 50) on Fri 8 Sep