Sufjan Stevens is and will always be one of my top favorite artists for many reasons…for one he was born in Michigan (Twinsies :p). His name is persian for “comes with a sword” and that’s pretty badass. Also he can play all sorts of instruments! My favorite that he plays is the banjo (swoon). He also plays the guitar, piano, drums, flute, the oboe and English horn! I actually listen to his lyrics which most of the time I am a rhythm kind of person. But the main reason I love love love him is for his beautiful voice. Sufjan has made 10 albums: “A Sun Came“, “Enjoy Your Rabbit“, “Michigan”, “Seven Swans”, “Illinois“, “The Avalanche”, “Songs for Christmas“, “The BQE“, “Delighted People EP”, and “The Age of Adz”. My favorite album would have to be “Illinois” and “Michigan” is my favorite (pretty funny considering I am from Michigan and am planning to move to Chicago).
My favorite of his songs is from the album “Illinois” called “Casimir Pulaski Day”. It’s the most beautifully tragic story that interweaves a fictional story of star-crossed lovers with the locally recognized holiday Casimir Pulaski Day as indicated by the lyric, “… in the morning, in the winter shade, on the first of March, on the holiday…”. The song is sung from the male’s point of view as he falls in love with the female character, finds out she has bone cancer, and mourns her day. It is really sad if you listen but I also think it’s beautiful. My favorite line from the song is “In the morning, through the window shade, when the light pressed up against your shoulder-blade, I could see what you were reading”. I even wrote a paper on the song for my English class, which was originally supposed to be a poetry analysis…but In my mind this song IS a poem, with its repetative use of the word “window” and “morning” (I will spare you my actual analysis).
Sufjan’s music uses personal history but also relies on the fiction writing techniques that he learned in school “I just know myself and my own story”. Living in Detroit has a magnificent influence on his life and a lot of his songs are about his life in Detroit, where he was born, and lived until he was 9 years old.
In my opinion Sufjan’s Stevens is a go to musician for what I like to call “mood music”. I definitely love to listen to a happy loud and upbeat song like “Come On! Feel the Illinois!” when I am in a good mood, and when I’m sad I will throw on “Romulous” or “For the Widows In Paradise” and mope a bit. Sufjan’s main sound is mostly Folk but his newest album “Age of Adz” is completely Electronic..so you can pretty much have your cake and eat it too in a sense. Mmm mmm gooooood! Please give his music a chance if you have never heard it before, and really breathe it in and revel in his lyrics, it’s positively enjoyable!!
Below are my Sufjan favorites…as always, Happy Listening 🙂
“Casimir Pulaski Day”
“For the Widows in Paradise”
“He Woke Me Up Again”
“Chicago (Adult Contemporary Version)”
“To Be Alone With You”
check out his site here!