Stephin Merritt

With his band the Magnetic Fields, Stephin Merritt has written, produced and recorded 10 albums, including 69 Love Songs, which was named one of the 500 best albums of all time by Rolling Stone. As well as making albums with Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies, the 6ths and as a solo artist, he composed the scores for the Academy Award-nominated film Pieces of April and for Eban and Charley. He recently published his first book, 101 Two-Letter Words, illustrated by Roz Chast.
(Photo credit: Marcelo Krasilcic)


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Stephin Merritt (born 1966 in New York City, United States) is a singer-songwriter. He has created and played principal roles in the following bands: The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, The Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes. He briefly used the name The Baudelaire Memorial Orchestra as an attribution for a song written for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, entitled "Scream and Run Away". Further music was recorded for the audiobook versions of the series and is attributed to The Gothic Archies. Under his own name, he recorded and released the soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley and Pieces of April. The soundtrack to the late Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Pete & Pete featured many of his songs. He and director Chen Shi-Zheng have collaborated on three pieces of musical theatre; Orphan of Zhao (2003), Peach Blossom Fan (2004), and My Life as a Fairy Tale (2005). Select tracks from these works have been released on Nonesuch Records under the title Showtunes. Merritt is openly gay. His lyrics are known for bending and blurring the gender line; examples include the song When My Boy Walks Down The Street, sung by a male vocalist, which contains the lyric "and he's going to be my wife". He is fascinated with the undead, often making veiled or explicit references to vampires. Other frequent motifs in his lyrics include trains and railroads, the moon, dancing, eyes, and, of course, love. Merritt has a Chihuahua named Irving, after Irving Berlin. He was raised Buddhist by his counter-culture mother. He attended the progressive Massachusetts high school, The Cambridge School of Weston and briefly attended NYU before moving back to Boston. He is a smoker, and is known to light a cigarette while performing on stage. He has worked as a copy editor for Spin Magazine and Time Out New York. One of Merritt's most notable quirks is that, when interrupting his speech for thought, he does not use linguistic placeholders such as "uh" or "er" to indicate that he is not done speaking, but instead simply stops speaking. This leads many interviewers unfamiliar with this behavior to cut him off before he has finished answering a question. In a September 2005 interview conducted by The Onion's AV Club, alternative rock musician Bob Mould was reminded of an interviewer who once referred to Mould as "the most depressed man in rock." Mould's response was, "He's never met Stephin Merritt, obviously." Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.


Stephin Merritt (the Magnetic Fields) Talks with Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) for the Talkhouse Podcast

By Talkhouse Podcast | May 30, 2019

Stephin Merritt (the Magnetic Fields) Talks with Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) for the Talkhouse Podcast

The Magnetic Fields’ mastermind and accordionist Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) revisit the classic 69 Love Songs on its 20th anniversary.

Stephin Merritt (the Magnetic Fields) Talks Antonio Sanchez’s score for Birdman

By Stephin Merritt | December 1, 2014

Stephin Merritt (the Magnetic Fields) Talks Antonio Sanchez’s score for Birdman

Is this highly tuneful songwriter qualified to write a Talkhouse piece about a movie score that's basically a drum solo? The answer may surprise you.