Music: The Jolly Misanthrope

Love songs that put misery to good use

The life story of songwriter Stephin Merritt can be told in three anecdotes: 1) A few years ago, Merritt was getting out of a cab when he was struck on the head by a hailstone the size of a golf ball. He picked up the piece of ice and put it in his freezer, where it remains. 2) As a birthday present, Merritt once decided to give himself isolation. He avoided speaking to another human being for nearly 24 hours, then ventured out to a bookstore and ran smack into his ex-boyfriend. 3) Merritt was browsing in another bookstore when he...

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