Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cover Your Tracks: The Magnetic Fields, "I Die: You Die"

Gary Numan, in the US at least, will be remembered for the immortal "Cars", and probably also for taking David Bowie's android persona further than just about anyone else. But Gary Numan always sounded like a robot with a heart, where even Bowie's greatest work—and there's a lot of great stuff—still often feels like an aesthetic statement rather than a window into Bowie the human being. The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, like Bowie, has been similarly lauded for his mastery of songwriting styles, and, like Numan, for plumbing the range of human emotions with synthesizers. But Merritt, like Bowie, has also been accused of allowing very little of his personal life into his work. This cover, perhaps, is Merritt's own brand of confessional. In the same way he has his team of Magnetic Fields vocalists inhabit the numerous personae of his songs, here he takes someone else's persona, the wounded and paranoid Numan protagonist, and makes it his own. This is from the 1997 Numan tribute album Random.

The Magnetic Fields cover Gary Numan's "I Die: You Die":

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