Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stephin Merritt: Better than Happy People

Stephin Merritt: small, roundish individual. Writes and sings primarily for The Magnetic Fields. Employs ukulele and deep, rumbly voice. Crotchety. Covers ears when forced to endure applause. Gay, but only in the sense that he has sex with men. Pauses for long periods of time while speaking, thus confusing and alienating interviewers. Hates touring and beach vacations.

If you have neither seen nor heard Stephin Merritt, I would recommend watching the following video (particularly the first two minutes), during which he cruelly finds himself on a chipper morning talk show. I imagine a similar interaction would occur were Proust trapped in a glass box with Kathy Lee.

Now, I am not one to applaud a tortured artist for his depression. I don't find people more enchanting when they stop taking serotonin re-uptake inhibitors and start stabbing at their thighs with butter knives. However, Stephin Merritt isn't tortured. He is simply grumpy and filled with disdain. He reminds me fondly of curmudgeony old men, silently glaring at children.

I adore him because he so clearly doesn't fit with any reasonable stereotypes, because he creates intelligent lyrics with delightful melodies, and because though I desperately want to meet him, I imagine he would immediately find our conversation dull and wander off into a dark corner to write love songs about flesh-eating bacteria.

A few of my favorite Magnetic Fields songs:

No comments: