The Charm of the Highway Strip

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The Charm of the Highway Strip
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 18, 1994
GenreIndie pop, synthpop
ProducerStephin Merritt
The Magnetic Fields chronology
The House of Tomorrow
The Charm of the Highway Strip
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Q4/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[4]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[5]
The Village VoiceB+[6]

The Charm of the Highway Strip is the third studio album by American indie pop band The Magnetic Fields, released in 1994. It is the first Magnetic Fields album to have its original release with record label Merge.


Its title, lyrics and musical styling are a nod to country music, though the songs of Stephin Merritt remain rooted in classic pop and synthesizers. Virtually every song deals with roads and travel, and several songs' lyrics implicitly reference vampires.[citation needed]

The title of the album comes from a quote by J. B. Jackson, 1959: "Let us hope that the merits and charm of the highway strip are not so obscure but that they will be accepted by a wider public."[citation needed]

This is the group's first full album in which songwriter Merritt also takes lead vocals. He designed the record's cover art, and has stated it is the album of his he is most satisfied with thus far in his career.[citation needed]


Arcade Fire covered "Born on a Train" during a live performance on the KCRW program Morning Becomes Eclectic.[7] Lush covered "I Have the Moon" as a B-side on their 1996 single "500 (Shake Baby Shake)". The song was also included on the B-sides collection Topolino and on the Chorus box set.

The song "Dust Bowl" was used during an episode of the television series version of This American Life ("Pandora's Box").[citation needed]

Indie rock band Country Westerns included a cover of "Two Characters in Search of a Country Song" as the final track on their self-titled debut album.

Track listing[]

All songs written by Stephin Merritt.

1."Lonely Highway"3:06
2."Long Vermont Roads"3:27
3."Born on a Train"3:46
4."I Have the Moon"2:37
5."Two Characters in Search of a Country Song"3:33
6."Crowd of Drifters"3:36
7."Fear of Trains"3:15
8."When the Open Road Is Closing In"3:39
9."Sunset City"4:05
10."Dust Bowl"2:20


The Magnetic Fields


  1. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "The Charm of the Highway Strip – Magnetic Fields". AllMusic. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  2. ^ "The Magnetic Fields: The Charm of the Highway Strip". NME. September 16, 1995. p. 50.
  3. ^ "The Magnetic Fields: The Charm of the Highway Strip". Q. No. 109. October 1995. p. 123.
  4. ^ Randall, Mac (2004). "The Magnetic Fields". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 509–10. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  5. ^ Hunter, James (1995). "Magnetic Fields". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 237–38. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (August 29, 1995). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  7. ^ Arcade Fire. Morning Becomes Eclectic. 2005-01-17. KCRW.

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