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The Charm of the Highway Strip is the third studio album by The Magnetic Fields, released in 1994. It is the first Magnetic Fields album to have its original release with Merge Records. 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.
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."
This is the group's first full album in which songwriter Merritt also takes lead vocals.
The album was released on vinyl for the first time on May 6, 2008, via Merge Records, the first appearance of any Magnetic Fields album on vinyl.
Arcade Fire covered "Born on a Train" during a live performance on the KCRW program Morning Becomes Eclectic.
Lush covered "I Have the Moon" as a single B-side, and in the Japanese/Canadian released album Topolino.
The song "Dust Bowl" was used during an episode of the television series version of This American Life ("Pandora's Box").
All tracks written by Stephin Merritt.
- "Lonely Highway" – 3:06
- "Long Vermont Roads" – 3:27
- "Born on a Train" – 3:46
- "I Have the Moon" – 2:37
- "Two Characters in Search of a Country Song" – 3:33
- "Crowd of Drifters" – 3:36
- "Fear of Trains" – 3:15
- "When the Open Road Is Closing In" – 3:39
- "Sunset City" – 4:05
- "Dust Bowl" – 2:20