American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Stephin Merritt is to indie-pop music as Bruce Springsteen is to radio-rock. In other words, he’s very important. Though no one has ever referred to him as “The Boss,” the title would be appropriate.
In 1989, Merritt’s band, The Magnetic Fields, began crafting charming sonic worlds brimming with equal parts bitterness, existential dread and hyper-romanticism on classic albums like “The Charm of the Highway Strip,” “Get Lost” and “I.” But the Boston-born group’s most absurd, self-indulgent and celebrated album is “69 Love Songs,” for which Merritt did exactly that: He wrote 69 love songs.
This Saturday night at Cha Cha Razzi, all 69 songs will be sung karaoke-style alongside a live, six-person house band at the third annual 69 Love Songs Cover Show.
“It’s a fitting Valentine’s Day album because it’s cranky and cantankerous,” says event co-founder Sam Allingham, a first-year student in Temple University’s creative writing MFA program. “But it’s a total romantic’s record, too,” he continues. “People have very strong romantic associations with it.”
With songs such as “Absolutely Cuckoo,” “I’m Sorry I Love You,” and “I Think I Need A New Heart,” the night is as gleeful and dreamy as it is silly and lovelorn. “We hope for a superwide range of talent,” Allingham says about the singers. “It’s more about the love of the record than about skill. It’s been a giant love fest in the past and this year will be similar.”
And, believe it or not, they made it through all 69 songs the past two years. “It takes until 1 in the morning sometimes,” says Allingham. “But we make it.”