Monday, May 16, 2005

There's a world where I can go and tell my secrets to

"Brian Wilson, 1960 and Vine, summer kisses
In a Pendleton shirt, songs and gentle words, granted wishes."

One of the most giddily joyful Magnetic Fields songs has to be "You and Me and the Moon," in which Merritt name-checks Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who functions as a sort of shorthand for Those Carefree Summer Days of Our Youth™. The Future Bible Heroes track "Real Summer" references the Beach Boys, but in this case, they are regarded with scorn. Their cheery representation of summer doesn't ring true with the singer, who can't recapture her one real summer, even with a new squeeze and a tall mint julep. The song is so deceptively upbeat that it took me a few listens before I realized that third verse ends with the kiss-off "Summer, my ass."

It seems wholly appropriate that Brian Wilson and Stephin Merritt are now labelmates, each having found a home with Nonesuch Records. While Merritt has frequently expressed his admiration for the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, this article in the Guardian reveals that Brian Wilson is a fan of Merritt's work, as well.

A number of groups - the High Llamas and Saturday Looks Good to Me come immediately to mind - have borrowed elements from the Beach Boys in obvious ways, but the band's influence on Merritt's music is a bit more subtle. I hear similarities between the dense, intricate arrangements on The Wayward Bus and those on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (one of Merritt's favorite albums), particularly on the former's "Dancing in Your Eyes" and "When You Were My Baby." Both acts also have a keen sense of timing, regarding when instruments should enter and depart. Listen to "Dancing in Your Eyes" and "Sloop John B" back to back, and notice when the drums come in and fall out - just perfect. Also, those "DO DO, do DO DO"s that emerge during the last chorus of "When You Were My Baby" sound like those at the one minute mark of "Sloop John B."

"In My Car" from the Magnetic Fields album Holiday may be a tip of the hat to the Beach Boys song "In My Room", since both share the theme of escaping, a theme which was explored further on the album Get Lost.


Blogger Am I Swedish said...

hey, I've been enjoying your comments and research pertaining to S. Merritt and all his endeavors. But I come to you today to ask a question: How do you post mp3's on a blog? I have one, myself, and am deseparate to get started.
Thanks for your help

ps: I have some sweet live mp3's of Merritt's I'd soon post in exchange for your help.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Ernest said...

Thanks for your encouraging words. Regarding posting mp3s on a blog, it requires server space somewhere. You can either pay for server space and bandwidth (like iDisk from Apple), or there are some free options: ask a friend who runs a server (ask around, you might be surprised) or try a service like YouSendIt.

11:32 PM  

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