Back in February, I spoke with The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt about the band’s new album “Love at the Bottom of the Sea.” Unfortunately, it was a phone interview, so I was not in the position of asking if Merritt could whip out his ukulele for a rendition of their excellent new single, “Andrew in Drag.”
CBS News however had that luxury, and a camera to boot, so good for them. In addition to a stripped down rendition of the song (where their censoring of the word “fag” is far more shocking than hearing the actual word), Merritt also spoke with them off camera and expanded on a few more things he and I talked about. One being the concept of Merritt being a functioning alcoholic, and how that is more or less the method to his songwriting process. “I can’t really drink for hours and hours and hours and drive home. In New York one doesn’t drive home, it’s not a problem. So L.A. is definitely interfering with my alcoholism … and since I make a living off my alcoholism, it’s a little difficult.”
Merritt is always surprisingly private and then not private about his life. Not always extremely talkative, and a notorious curmudgeon, he’ll occasionally reveal small snippets of a horrifying past, like the way he matter-of-fact-ly mentions being the victim of violence during his time living in Boston, “I think of [Boston] mostly as a series of being beaten up by baseball fans. In Boston, I lived near Fenway Park, which is why my motto to this day is ‘Death to the Red Sox.’ I was actually at one point beaten up by people with baseball bats, which is no fun.”
Check out the full interview at CBS News, and the clip of Merritt performing “Andrew in Drag” below, which he apparently penned during a full black out.
Stephin Merritt — “Andrew in Drag”