Before I start this, I’d like to make something known: the first music I really obsessed over was that of the 19th century opera-writers Gilbert and Sullivan. I loved the H.M.S. Pinafore and the Pirates of Penzance with all my heart. Since then, my tastes have…matured a bit; but I still appreciate a bit of theatrics in my music. In fact, I even have a playlist of indie songs that I could see being featured in an opera.
Now, let’s get to Stephin Merritt.
Showtunes features songs written by Stephin and Chen Shi-Zheng. They were all pulled from three plays: The Orphan of Zhao, My Life as a Fairy Tale, and Peach Blossom Fan. It’s great to see the man behind the Magnetic Fields get to play up his tin pan alley strength. While some of the songs might make you smile at the sheer silliness of them (“What a F*cking Lovely Day”), they’re each very good in their own way.
MP3: Stephin Merritt – Sounds Expensive
Having not seen the place from which this song originates, I can only picture the stage in my mind. The main voice of the song, a man peddling a ring with an blood-drenched past, would come from a man standing on a slightly raised platform in front of a crowd of mixed genders. As each portion of the story gets spoken, the crowd gets more compact and focused on the man with the ring. At each death in the story, the peddler might mime something sarcastic. Can’t you just see him dragging his finger across his throat to punctuate the line, “he paid with his life”?
MP3: Stephin Merritt – At Madam Plum’s
I picked this because its song type is important to any good musical. The introduction song sets the stage (pardon the pun), without boring the audience to tears. As is typical with a lot of plays, this one introduces the setting, rather than the actual players. In this case, it’s a place called “Madam Plum’s” which seems a refuge in time of war. But rather than being a physical safe haven against death, it’s more of a shelter for the mind. Those in this song seem more concerned with forgetting that people die right outside their door.
So the article about me ran in the Kernel today. Here are some corrections I’d like to state: I am not a freshman–I’m a Sophomore. Also, the name of my site (as you can see) is You Aint No Picasso–not It Aint No Picasso. There are a couple other little errors, but nothing that I’d like to harp on. Well, maybe one more–there’s no link to my site. How annoying is that? But hey, it makes for a funny story.