Did you know...?
Songs that mention...
Covers of Stephin Merritt songs
What does Stephin listen to?
Stephin Merritt's first concert
Alternate song sequences
Sixths tidbits

Did you know...?

Several songs on The Wayward Bus show more than a nod of recognition to Phil Spector, the wonder-producer with the unmistakable wall of sound. In particular, "The Saddest Story Ever Told" borrows a tune from the Crystals song "Then He Kissed Me" and the distinctive drum beats of "Candy" are lifted from the Ronettes track "Be My Baby." "When You Were My Baby" and "Dancing in Your Eyes" (to a lesser degree) are the other two tracks displaying Spector-worship. Listen to RealAudio samples of "Then He Kissed Me" and "Be My Baby" and hear for yourself.

Stephin Merritt's favorite band of all time is ABBA, and his admiration just comes out and throttles you on the 6ths' song "Here in My Heart" and the Magnetic Fields track "Tokyo Á Go-Go." "Here in My Heart" bears a striking resemblance to ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me." He even mentions "the dancing queens" and lifts the phrase "only seventeen" in "Tokyo Á Go-Go," which is musically reminiscent of two ABBA tracks in particular: "Head over Heels" and "Angel Eyes".

Although the Magnetic Fields cover of "Heroes" is on a David Bowie tribute album, I have a suspicion that it is somewhat of an homage to Nico, also, since she too covered "Heroes" and Stephin is a fan. Listen to RealAudio samples of Nico's version of "Heroes" and David Bowie's own original.
Nico said this about "Heroes":
"Heroes was written for me. I know that as a fact. I was living in Berlin at the same time as Bowie was there. He recaptured my past, I guess. I can hear it from the lines 'Standing by the wall, the gun shots above our heads and we kissed.' That didn't happen of course. That was his fantasy."

"The Man Amplifier," the b-side of "Why I Cry," is a cover of a Young Marble Giants song, from their stark masterpiece album, Colossal Youth. The man behind the Young Marble Giants, Stuart Moxham, sings the bonus 16th song on the Wasps' Nests 6 6/6" boxed set, "Yet Another Girl."

The Mark Robinson remix of "Smoke and Mirrors" on the MRG100 EP has two more lines of lyrics than the original version from Get Lost. A trivial point, I know...but hey, this is the trivia section.

Susan Anway originally left the Magnetic Fields to pursue an education in dental sculpture, but she reconsidered and studied metalworking and silversmithing instead.

Holiday performed a song about our favorite singer/drummer entitled "Claudia's Going to Graduate School" on the Dreamboat compilation on the Cassiel label. [thanks to Gary Ruisinger]
According to the March Records site, there is a Holiday track called "Claudia Goes To Grad School" on the Childhood Friends cassette only compilation/Jaboni Youth fanzine (Brassland) - is this the same track?

 Jim Findlay provides this explanation for the track of silence between The Wayward Bus and Distant Plastic Trees:
...apparently it's a homage to John Cage's 4'33" - for the uninitiated a "song" for the piano made up completely of rests divided into 3 movements - with the lid up, with the lid down and with the lid up (the point of it being you listen to the "silence", and the inevitable random noises that are bound to occur.  Or something.  Personally, I think it's just art wank.)

What's going on between "The Tiny Goat" and "In a Cave" on The New Despair?  Listen to an MP3 sample of that passage that has been reversed and boosted in volume.  It sounds like a snippet of an alternate version of "Plant White Roses" with Susan Anway singing over a lone guitar.

Did you catch the Stephin reference in the track "Girlie Action" on Momus's 1999 double-album Stars Forever?
"Look at Dawn, she's strapped on an extra-long Stephin Merritt nose (see how it glows)"

Stephin Merritt named a Pantone® color: Carolyn Eve Green, PANTONE® 7498.  Stephin comments:  "I named this color for my friend, Carolyn Eve. She lives in the pine-addled Rocky Mountains. However dark things grow, she is still green. If vegetables were Carolyn Eve Green, children would be happier to eat them. This is a good color for camouflage, carpet, a wristwatch or the book jacket of a collection of Russian writings, for example, Chekhov's plays. It is not advisable for lampshades, eyeshadow or milk cartons. Using it in stripes on a field of pale salmon (PANTONE® 197@50%) could be quite shocking. It would be great for biotech business cards."  [thanks to John St. Denis]

Songs that mention...

Sorry, just pre-69 Love Songs stuff for now.
Sung prettily: "Give me time..."

Songs that mention trains or railroads: 12
"Railroad Boy," "Babies Falling," "Living in an Abandoned Firehouse with You," "Either You Don't Love Me or I Don't Love You," "Long Vermont Roads," "Born on a Train," "Fear of Trains," "Sunset City," "Smoke and Mirrors," "Plant White Roses," "Heaven in a Black Leather Jacket," "Hopeless"

Songs that mention the moon: 14
"Living in an Abandoned Firehouse with You," "Lovers from the Moon," "Strange Powers," "Sad Little Moon," "I Have the Moon," "Crowd of Drifters," "With Whom to Dance?", "You and Me and the Moon," "Save a Secret for the Moon," "The Dreaming Moon," "In the City in the Rain," "Looking for Love (in the Hall of Mirrors)," "You Pretend to Be the Moon," "The Tiny Goat"

Songs that mention roads, streets, or highways: 15
"Kings," "When You Were My Baby," "Either You Don't Love Me or I Don't Love You," "Swinging London," "All You Ever Do Is Walk Away," "Lonely Highway," "Long Vermont Roads," "Born on a Train," "Two Characters in Search of a Country Song," "Crowd of Drifters," "When the Open Road is Closing in," "San Diego Zoo," "Puerto Rico Way," "Hopeless," "Blond Adonis"

Songs that mention dancing: 16
"Falling in Love with the Wolfboy," "When You Were My Baby," "The Saddest Story Ever Told," "Lovers from the Moon," "Tokyo Á Go-Go," "Summer Lies," "Old Orchard Beach," "Dancing in Your Eyes," "Technical (You're So)," "With Whom to Dance?", "You and Me and the Moon," "Love is Lighter than Air," "In the City in the Rain," "Puerto Rico Way," "Memories of Love," "Rats in the Garbage of the Western World"

Songs that mention rain: 17
"When You Were My Baby," "The Saddest Story Ever Told," "Jeremy," "Dancing in Your Eyes," "Torn Green Velvet Eyes," "Long Vermont Roads," "Smoke and Mirrors," "The Village in the Morning," "All the Umbrellas in London," "All Dressed up in Dreams," "Winter in July," "In the City in the Rain," "Heaven in a Black Leather Jacket," "Here in My Heart," "Lonely Days," "Hopeless," "But You're So Beautiful"

Songs that mention eyes: 29
"You Love to Fail," "Babies Falling," "Josephine," "100,000 Fireflies," "When You Were My Baby," "Tokyo Á Go-Go," "Old Orchard Beach," "Dancing in Your Eyes," "Torn Green Velvet Eyes," "Sad Little Moon," "The Trouble I've Been Looking For," "Sugar World," "All You Ever Do Is Walk Away," "Take Ecstasy with Me," "Long Vermont Roads," "Sunset City," "The Desperate Things You Made Me Do," "You and Me and the Moon," "Don't Look Away," "Winter in July," "Movies in My Head," "Here in My Heart," "Puerto Rico Way," "You Can't Break a Broken Heart," "She-Devils of the Deep," "Blond Adonis," "A You You Never Knew," "You Steal the Scene," "The Tiny Goat"

Songs that mention Pippi Longstocking: 1
"Suddenly There is a Tidal Wave"

Songs that mention love:  I think a few exist.

Covers of Stephin Merritt songs

Portastatic: "You Love to Fail" on a 7" that was included with After Hours issue #3
Portastatic: "Josephine" on the "Naked Pilseners" CDEP/7" (Matador Records)
* page with a 30 second RealAudio sample of Portastatic's cover *

Bikeride: "Josephine" on the Here Comes The Summer! CD (Choclaty)

Superchunk: "100,000 Fireflies" on the "The Question Is How Fast" CDEP
and the Incidental Music 1991-1995 compilation (Merge Records)
* 30 second RealAudio sample of Superchunk's cover *
* Audio MPEG sample (high or medium quality) of Superchunk's cover *

Buddha on the Moon: "100,000 Fireflies" on the Translucence 10" EP (Farrágo Records)

B'ehl:  "100,000 Fireflies" on the Bright Eyes CD (Endearing)

Rusty Spell:  "Lovers from the Moon" on the Experiments and Outtakes CD (Love and Letters Music)
Rusty Spell:  "Sugar World" and "Puerto Rico Way"on the Covers by Casio album (Love and Letters Music)

Holiday: "Candy" on the My Roommate Joe 7" EP (Tasty Bits) and Cafe Reggio CD (spinART)

Pulsars: "Deep Sea Diving Suit" on the Dig This: A Benefit Compilation for Doorika CD (Sweet Pea)
* mp3 sound file of the Pulsars' cover *

The Mnemonic Devices: "Swinging London", "100,000 Fireflies", and "Suddenly There Is A Tidal Wave"
(along with a number of borrowed motifs) on the 20th Century Literary Problem CD (Love and Letters Music)

sugar plant: "Lonely Highway" on the Whirl-Wheels compilation CD (Shelflife)

The Cat's Miaow: "Born on a Train" on the Stuff and Nonsense cassette (Fan Club Release), and it is also a
bonus song on the 10 Songs about Cars & Girls CD (Drive-In) by Bart & Friends

Lush: "I Have the Moon" on the "500 (Shake Baby Shake)" CDEP/12"/7",
Topolino compilation (4AD), and soundtrack for the film Nowhere (Polygram)

Tullycraft: "Falling Out of Love (with You)" on the Something Cool compilation CD (Cher Doll/Darla)

The Frank and Walters: "Falling Out of Love (with You)" on the Plenty Times CDEP (Setanta)
note:  this cover actually weaves "Puerto Rico Way" and "Falling Out of Love (with You)" together

White Town: "Famous" on the "Undressed CD1" CDEP (Chrysalis/EMI)
* .WAV audio file of White Town covering "Famous" *

Evelyn: "Smoke and Mirrors" on the 1998 TeenBeat Sampler compilation CD (TeenBeat)

All-Time ¡Quarterback!: "Why I Cry" on their self-titled CDEP (Elsinor)

The Divine Comedy: "Love is Lighter than Air" on the Something for the Weekend
(A Cassanova Companion No. 1) CDEP/MC/7" (Setanta)
The Divine Comedy: "The Dead Only Quickly" on the The Certainty Of Chance (#2) CDEP/MC (Setanta)
The Divine Comedy: "Famous" on the National Express (#2) CDEP (Setanta)
The Divine Comedy: "With Whom to Dance?" on the The Pop Singer's Fear of the Pollen Count (#1) CDEP (Setanta)

Linda Smith: "All the Umbrellas in London" on the Friendly Society compilation CD (Harriet)

Peter Schmidt: "All the Umbrellas in London" on the Scene, Heard Volume 3: Even More Rare &
Unreleased Tracks Compiled By The Dallas Observer compilation CD (Dallas Observer)

Various Artists: 18 songs on the Verfrumdungseffekt - the Songs of Stephin Merritt CD (Buttmunch)

Kelly Hogan & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts: "Papa Was a Rodeo" on the Beneath the Country Underdog CD (Bloodshot)
Douglas Wolk comments on this track:  Amusingly, the last chorus is sung by one Mike Geier.

Thanks to Gary Ruisinger, Pete Higgins, Rusty Spell, Kerry Mitchell, David Sim, Adam Polakoff, Dan Machold,
Patrick Rogers, Douglas Wolk, Leaf Dastardly, and John Bigboote for their kind contributions.
I sincerely appreciate all your help!

What does Stephin listen to?

From CMJ New Music Monthly, August 1995 issue:
Eartha Kitt: Earthaquake (box set)
Cole Porter: From This Moment On (box set)
Godzilla Vs. Mothra soundtrack
ABBA: Thank You for the Music (box set)
John Foxx: Metamatic

From Chickfactor #6:
ABBA: The Visitors, etc.
The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
The Bee Gees: The Bee Gees 1st
Blondie: Parallel Lines
The Chills: Kaleidoscope World
Fleetwood Mac: Tusk
John Foxx: Metamatic
Kraftwerk: Radioactivity, etc.
Monsoon: Third Eye
Nico: Chelsea Girl
The Raincoats: The Raincoats
Roxy Music: Avalon
The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World
Phil Spector: Back to Mono (box)
The Troggs: Archaeology (box)
Dionne Warwick: Rhino compilation
Weekend: La Variete
Young Marble Giants: Colossal Youth

Stephin Merritt's "Best of 1998" list from TimeOut New York:
Various Artists: Orbitones, Spoon Harps & Bellowphones (Ellipsis Arts)
Various Artists: The Rose Grew Round the Briar: Early American Rural Love Songs, Vols. 1 & 2 (Yazoo)
High Llamas: Cold and Bouncy (V2)
Various Artists: The Alan Lomax Collection series (Smithsonian-Folkways)
The Rustavi Choir: An Oath at Khidistavi -- Heroic Songs and Hymns from Georgia (Shanachie)
Kyaw Kyaw Naing: Pat Waing: The Magic Drum Circle of Burma (Shanachie)
Various Artists: Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (Rhino)
Banda Ionica: Passione (Robi Droli)
Various Artists: Legends of Ukulele (Rhino)
Various Artists: Songs and Ballads of American History and of the Assassination of Presidents (Rounder)
Various Artists: The Great Songs of George Gershwin (Columbia Jazz)
(thanks to Bill Weber for this info)

Stephin Merritt's "100 Best Recordings of the Century" list from TimeOut New York
(thanks to Bill Weber for this link)

Stephin Merritt's first concert

From Chickfactor #6:
My evil mother and her underage boyfriend dragged me to see the Jefferson Airplane and Odetta. The Jefferson Airplane said that all the children were going to die, and I thought they meant that all the children at that show were going to die right then. The first concert I saw by choice was the Bay City Rollers.

Alternate song sequences

Use the "program" feature on your CD player to vicariously experience the track ordering for these exotic releases.

The Wasps' Nests 6 6/6" boxed set:
1. Aging Spinsters
2. Movies in My Head
3. Winter in July
4. In the City in the Rain
5. Dream Hat
6. Yet Another Girl [not on CD release]
7. Pillow Fight
8. Here in My Heart
9. When I'm Out of Town
10. Puerto Rico Way
11. Looking for Love (in the Hall of Mirrors)
12.  San Diego Zoo
13.  Heaven in a Black Leather Jacket
14. You Can't Break a Broken Heart
15. All Dressed up in Dreams
16. Falling out of Love (with You)

(note: there are actually four different sequences provided within the packaging;
the one provided corresponds to the order in which the lyrics are printed and also to the sequence of the serial numbers of the singles.)

The U.K. release of Get Lost on Setanta:
1. With Whom to Dance?
2. Smoke and Mirrors
3. All the Umbrellas in London
4. Why I Cry
5. Save a Secret for the Moon
6. Don't Look Away
7. Love Is Lighter Than Air
8. The Desperate Things You Made Me Do
9. You and Me and the Moon
10. The Village in the Morning
11. Famous
12. When You're Old and Lonely
13. The Dreaming Moon

Sixths tidbits
thanks to John St. Denis, for graciously providing these tidbits

Georgia [Hubley] wasn't Stephin's original choice to sing "Movies in My Head".  Someone else had already done it, but Stephin didn't like it enough so he asked Georgia to come in. She is a little embarrassed how it turned out because she doesn't think she sang it very well either. I think maybe it's out of her range (something Stephin has said was his mistake on the first record, having people sing in keys they aren't stellar in).

Quotes from Chris Knox during an interview shortly after the release of his last record:

John: How did it come about that you sang on 6ths record? I think it's fantastic.

Chris Knox: Yeah, I love it too. I met Claudia, his drummer manager when we first came to the states in '89 cuz she put up the Bats and us and the Clean and all sorts of people. Then when she got with Stephin she obviously played him the stuff and he obviously liked it and that's it. I was in Boston and he said 'Do you want to do this?' He gave me a tape and the tape was really lovely just him and an acoustic guitar and a beatbox and it was gorgeous. It would have been fine just as it was. He wanted me to do it. I got along there and he had this total rock arrangement that had lost the beat entirely and it was difficult. And he was doing it on computer so there wasn't the reassurance of reels of tape going round and so forth. I did about five takes and I was very conscious of the fact that I wasn't quite getting the beat one, and two that I was emulating his accent because I had gotten so familiar with the song. I was trying to do better with all these things going on and I ended up having an epileptic seizure. But it's the last one I've had, I used to have them pretty regularly and this is the last one I had. So God bless St. Stephin.

John: That's terrible.

CK: No, I got up and played a gig about two hours after.

John: That's amazing.

CK: And it was a good one too.

John: Didn't it tire you out?

CK: No, I was full of energy. I did this spontaneous song about soup of mine which I'd love to hear because it was great. It's legendary in Boston but nobody taped it.

John: Have you heard the new record FBH?

CK: No I haven't.

John: He didn't write the music, just the words and the tunes. Claudia sang a lot of the songs.

CK: Claudia sang? He such a fool. He's got such a good voice but he prefers other people doing it.

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