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The Magnetic Fields: 'Out Late At A Bar, Writing A Song'

For more than 20 years, the indie-pop group The Magnetic Fields has been singing songs about love, though not always in the traditional sense. With a style that ranges from bitter to sincere to ironic, Stephin Merritt — the group's frontman, writer and producer — has created a growing cast of characters surviving love's vicissitudes.

In his characteristic deadpan, Merritt tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer that he owes the inspiration for many of those characters to a particular ritual of his.

"I sit around in gay bars and write with a cocktail in one hand, and a pen in the other, and a notebook in the other," he says.

In fact, some songs on the band's new album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, stemmed specifically from Merritt's nights on the town.

"I woke up one morning and saw that my car was not in the driveway," Merritt says. "And I thought, 'I must have left the car at the bar so I wouldn't kill anyone on Santa Monica Boulevard.' So I looked in my song notebook, and there was [the song] 'Andrew in Drag.' And that's all I know about the writing of 'Andrew in Drag.' "

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Ursula K. Le Guin Steers Her Craft Into A New Century

The famed novelist says that at 85 she no longer has the energy to write another book, but she's just released a revised and updated edition of her manual for aspiring writers, Steering the Craft.
NPR

#NPRreads: Middle East Air Quality, Lead Poisoning, And Jell-O

Around the newsroom and around the world, here's what we're reading this week.
NPR

New Orleans Mayor On Katrina Anniversary: 'We Saved Each Other'

The 10th anniversary of the devastating storm was marked by prayers and church bells to remember the estimated 1,800 who lost their lives in the disaster.
NPR

No More Standing By The Spigot: Messaging App Alerts Water Availability

A startup in India — where an aging, ad hoc system limits water availability — is using text messages to let people know when their faucets should work, so they don't waste hours awaiting the deluge.

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