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25 Years Of Merge Records: What A Playlist

Merge Records

Merge Records is celebrating their 25th anniversary this weekend.

Laura Ballance & Mac McCaughan of the band Superchunk founded the label. "When I see pictures about what we looked like and what the bands that we worked with looked like then it feels like a long time," says Mac. "But it did go by quickly. It's gone by fast."

Superchunk is still releasing new stuff. They debuted"I Hate Music" last year.

Prepare to party

There's a road race this weekend that will end with a huge party to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Merge Records. Catherine Lazorko is an avid endurance athlete (and the town information officer for Chapel Hill) and she's been getting her playlist in order. She wrote this dispatch about the event:

Runners will gather on March 22 for a brand new road race that begins in Chapel Hill and meanders 25 kilometers through the community's rural buffer to Mt. Sinai Road and Duke Forest to downtown Durham. The race ends at Motorco with a musical block party to celebrate Merge Record's 25th anniversary. Bands at the finish line include Vertical Scratchers and the Love Language. This unusual spring road race should be a treat for the senses -- springtime scenery, great people from all over the country, heart-thumping miles, and auditory delights! Yes, I am getting my playlists in order.

Catherine says that her playlist will include favorite artists from Merge Records like:

Arcade Fire's "Reflektor:"

Arcade Fire's "Keep the Car Running:"

Arcade Fire's "Ready to Start:"

Superchunk's "Crossed Wires:"

And to keep up her pace, Catherine will include Superchunk's "Skip Steps 1 and 3."

Why a point-to-point road race?

Catherine Lazorko writes:

It's an interesting way to mark the history of one of the world's most respected Independent record labels, starting off in Chapel Hill, where Merge had its beginnings, and finishing in its current home of downtown Durham. Proceeds from the race will go to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and Habitat for Humanity of Durham and Orange County while marking 25 years of releasing great music. Merge Records was founded in 1989 in Chapel Hill, by Superchunk bandmates Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance. Merge represents such artists such as Grammy Award winner Arcade Fire, Spoon, M. Ward, Lambchop, the Magnetic Fields, She & Him, and more. While I know Mac and Laura won't be running the 25K -- I hear Mac will be DJ'ing the after party at the finish. Hope to see you there! Remember to note the point-to-point logistics. Prior to the start of the race, shuttles will bring runners from the finish line in Durham to the starting line in Chapel Hill. To register and look up all the race info (including yoga playlists!), visit this site. - Catherine Lazorko is the Town Information Officer for Chapel Hill. She's also an avid endurance athlete having completed more than 40 marathons.

Listen to Eric Hodge's interview with the Merge founders:

So, have we inspired you? What's on your playlist?

Carol Jackson has been with WUNC since 2006. As Digital News Editor, she writes stories for, and helps reporters and hosts make digital versions of their radio stories. She is also responsible for sharing stories on social media. Previously, Carol spent eight years with WUNC's nationally syndicated show The Story with Dick Gordon, serving as Managing Editor and Interim Senior Producer.
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