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25 June 2004

What We Talk About When We Say Nothing

This blog needs more popular culture, don't you think? Therefore, a post linking a very innovative interview with Stephen Merritt of Magnetic Fields in the Minneapolis weekly City Pages. Subtitled a spirited non-conversation, it is exactly that, with the sparse dialogue filled in with the interviewer's and interviewee's internal musings, including:
"Here, Merritt sounds a bit like Cole Porter, whom he has been absurdly compared to. The Porter comparisons have less to do with Merritt's music, which tends to be simple (more Brill Building than Broadway, more Richard Carpenter than Richard Rodgers), than with his occasional fondness for unconventional rhyme schemes. Or his persona, which is 'urbane,' which is another word for 'gay.' "
"Like most of the great Broadway composers (and like Merritt), Porter didn't much care for jazz. He didn't like singers messing with his melodies. If the song were supposed to end with a bluesy glissando, Porter might have argued, it would say so on the sheet music. Considering that Merritt as a singer has a contentious relationship with pitch, he is perhaps not in the greatest position to argue for the sacrosanctity of his tunes. Every time he applies his wonderful, froggy, flat voice to them, they're changed a little. But it's not a 'completely expressionless' voice, as he claims. His singing has a touch of Nico's flat-affect syndrome, but there's some of Ray Davies's plaintive croak, too, and he has a cunning croon, as on 'Infinitely Late at Night.' It seems to say: Come hither--wait, that's too close."

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