It’s easy to imagine the life of a rock star: Write a song, it becomes a big hit, everyone hears it on the radio, and you make enough money to live the rest of your life in the lap of luxury. That story might be true for a handful of musicians, but there’s a much, much bigger group of musicians out there who just spend years writing, recording, and performing, making a lot of fans but never producing a “hit” and never breaking into the mainstream.
The epitome of this type of musician might be Stephin Merritt and his band The Magnetic Fields. Since 1991 Merritt has been churning our hopelessly romantic songs and packaging them into concept albums. The highest profile Magnetic Fields album was probably 69 Love Songs. Adhering to the concept of truth in advertising, the three-CD set featured exactly 69 songs about love.
Today’s Magnetic Fields release follows on that example. For 50 Song Memoir Merritt wrote one autobiographical song for each year of his life, revealing the origins of his career-spanning and overarching themes of unrequited love.
Not all the tracks on 50 Song Memoir are great. Occasionally, Merritt pastiches the sound of music popular during the time period the song it set. These tracks can seem gimmicky and even annoying. But the batting average is pretty good. None of these songs will probably bring The Magnetic Fields into the mainstream but you’ll surely find something to love about most of 50 Song Memoir.
50 Song Memoir and a quarter million more albums are available to stream or download at hoopladigital.com. Login with your Eisenhower Library card and get started listening right away. Prefer a CD? Place a hold in the library catalog.