"I was thinking I really ought to get into theatre. And I thought 'What can I do?' And then I thought, well, maybe I could write a revue — a musical without a story line, like [Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris] or An Evening With [Tom Lehrer], my favorite theater piece ever. Sondheim once said, jokingly, that anybody who wanted to break into theater should start with the poster. So I came up with the idea of a Warholian poster that said '100 Stephin Merritt Love Songs,' but quickly decided that would be too many, so I cut it down to 69. And then I realized I'd have to write and record the songs before they could be put into a revue.
"I wanted to say — this is what I can do. Here I am, and I made 69 songs, and I think they're all good even though they're all built on the same general theme. I like the fact that 69 Love Songs insists that there is a genre called 'love songs' that has nothing to do with instrumentation, nothing to do with conventions, nothing really to do with lyrics or melodies. The only thing that holds this collection together is something extra-musical — which is love." [Source]
In the box-set booklet, Stephin refers to having read about [Charles Ives' collection 114 Songs] on the day that he first thought of the idea of 69 Love Songs. He is also quoted in the same booklet as saying, "I threw out a lot of songs in the course of making this work. More than 31 certainly. I had another record and a half of material on the final list when I was deciding which songs to put in the third batch of 23, there were 60 or so of them left over... Maybe it was 50."
In 1999 Stephin was quoted as saying "I was done writing the songs by August of last year. We finished recording in April." (Source: interview with Don Leibold published on www.milkmag.com, but no longer available)
More Stephin Merritt Quotes.
[Further information on the story of the album] from The Magnetic Fields' official web site.