Pop Quiz: Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields


Aidin Vaziri | After briefly stepping away from music to indulge his Scrabble obsession with the poetry-reference book “101 Two-Letter Words,” Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields will return to the stage for a short, somewhat unusual tour. Accompanied by longtime bandmate Sam Davol on cello, the prolific singer and songwriter will perform acoustic versions of exactly 26 songs from his back catalog each night, running in alphabetical order. Of course, with side projects such as Future Bible Heroes, the 6ths and the Gothic Archies, that opens the set list up to a lot of possibilities. We spoke with Merritt, 50, at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco when he was in town to promote the book. Here is a very brief excerpt from our conversation. Merritt performs next Sunday, May 10, at the Independent.

Q: Your music career was started when you were 5 and took objection to the song “Little White Duck.” What was your issue with it?

A: That’s funny — it’s never been put that way to me. I always just thought “Little White Duck” was the first song I hated. But you’re right. “Little White Duck” forced me into a musical career from an early age out of the sheer, intense savagery of its inanity.

Q: Which of your albums would you most likely buy as a fan?

A: I always tell people to buy “69 Love Songs” because it’s the one I make the most on.

Q: Do you ever worry “69 Love Songs” overshadows everything else you do?

A: I knew it was going to be “Rumors” after which I was going to have to make a “Tusk.”

Q: And you always preferred Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.”

A: I think “Tusk” is a great album. I have listened to it thousands of times.

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