As he releases new Magnetic Fields album 50 Song Memoir, Stephin Merritt doesn't delve into the past for his Baker's Dozen list but instead gives tQ an A-Z of some contemporary favourites, from Japan to Marc Almond, bawdy cockney songs and the BBC Radiophonic Workship. Pic by Marcelo Krasilcic
G: Nanci Griffith - Once In A Very Blue Moon
Texan singer-novelist Nanci Griffith doesn't compromise with her audience. I once heard her reverse-heckle a fan shouting out requests, retorting in her Tweety-Bird voice, "I don't come to where you work and yell at you!" Like all her first several albums this one is lyrics-heavy, with folk-country accompaniment (Dobros, lap steel, Bela Fleck's banjo), and the stories take precedence over the genre, to the point where she actually criticises country. The black housewife narrating 'Mary & Omie' reports "And I thank my Omie for taking me out of the South." Take that, Stephen Foster! Like the very different Mother Fist, this 1986 album is dedicated to Truman Capote (among others), and every song is a story song, full of car-jumping daredevils, lovelorn young widows, and of course touring musicians bored in buses, staring out into the endless falling snow.