A New Voice in My Head
I never thought I would get into MySpace, anymore than I'd get into Friendster. I have more than enough friends. I mean, I'm always open to a new one, but I'm not out there looking for them. But then my friend Chris Stein, the famous guitarist from Blondie, signed me up for MySpace to promote our old TV Party DVDs. He put a twenty-year-old picture of me on it, and now I have lots of young girlfriends from all over the country, as well as lots of band friends. I think it was really bands who made MySpace such an interesting phenomenon. You can put music and videos up on your home page and the music spreads—I'm not crazy about the term, but you know what I mean—virally.
I don't know how to put music on my page, and I'm sort of too busy to deal with it, but I love how it works. Lots of MySpacers demonstrate their cool by displaying their curriculum vitae to their favorite soundtrack, either original or borrowed. Every time somebody asks to be my friend and they happen to be a girl I actually go to their page to make sure that she is not fronting for some corporation trying to sell me something, and that she is not offering to show me naked pictures. Please! I've got work to do around here, and I'm not Terry Richardson. Anyway, a sweet young thing asked to be a friend the other day and, when I clicked on her page, this great voice reached out across the Internet and spoke to me. It was a song by the Gothic Archies, called "Shipwrecked." It sounded like a collision of Tom Waits and Merle Haggard doing an impression of Cole Porter. The voice was that of Stephin Merritt, a great genius songwriter and performer, as I would soon discover.
I had some Magnetic Fields tracks on my MacBook, like the poignant, curmudgeonly, dark broken-heart anthem "I Don't Want to Get Over You." Or "Papa Was a Rodeo," a sort of perfect meld of Johnny Cash and Morrissey. But I hadn't focused on them or made the connection or really understood the gravity of this guy and his many creative fronts and/or sides, which also include Future Bible Heroes, the Three Terrors, and the 6ths. Now I see there is much to be listened to from this artist and, so far so excellent.
I guess I'm starting out with the three-volume set 69 Love Songs, which seems to provide much food for thought and tinder for feeling that should carry me well into the heat of summer. I'll let that stuff wash over my head and headquarters and then I'll still have the Gothic Archies to look forward to. I have noted from Mr. Merritt's website that "What makes this band different from The Magnetic Fields is that any glimmer of hope is absolutely extinguished." Sounds perfect for September. And just the idea of Gothic bubblegum makes me invisibly happy.
It's always inspiring to find an artist who uses words brilliantly and unexpectedly, expanding the language like lungs. Lines like, "You know you enthrall me/and yet you don't call me/It's making me blue/Pantone 292." That's a gem. Or, "I see that kiss-me pucker forming/but maybe you should plug it with a beer." This cat could be the Kaiser Soeze of lyricism.