What We Talk About When We Say Nothing

A spirited non-conversation with Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt

What Merritt thinks:Why is this idiot thinking about John Ritter? He should be thinking about me.

What CP thinks:...for evidence, I cited Ritter's work inSling Blade,Tadpole, andYou Can Count on Me. Choosing those movies, and notBride of Chucky, was my attempt to position Ritter as something of a hipster, the sort of guy who turns down lucrative parts in farcical situation comedies to tackle roles in independent pictures. My argument started to disintegrate when my opponent pointed out that Mr. Ritter wasn't actually inYou Can Count on Me, thus calling into suspicion the veracity of my other contentions. "Mistakes," I said, quoting the late Ronald Reagan, "were made."

What Merritt thinks:What a jerk.

I want to love you, but you're always building a wall between us: Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields
Chris Burk
I want to love you, but you're always building a wall between us: Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields

What CP says: How about crying? Do your songs make you cry?

What Merritt says: Before I recorded them. Some songs, yeah, I've been known to burst into tears onstage.

What CP thinks:"It's Only Time" has made me cry. I should him tell him so, but I'm shy. What a beautiful song! There's Jimmy Webb in there, and the Byrds, and Sondheim, in how the melody floats and drones and then rises tremulously, the voice cracking, the heart breaking with joy. Is this a gay-marriage anthem? "Why should I stop loving you/A hundred years from now?/It's only time." As with the Beatles' "It's Only Love" or the Stones' "It's Only Rock & Roll," theonly beforetime, of course, precedes what is, or seems to be, everything. When I'm off the phone, I'll play "It's Only Time," look at my window, and watch this sad, beautiful world. I keep forgetting. It's good to be alive.

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