Tag Archives: Sufjan Stevens

Come Back Sufjan!

1 Jul

We here at the Constitutional Phesant happen to love Sufjan Stevens. His work is awesome. It trancends any genre of music we have heard of, even if most people call it folk music. The reality is that it is simply too dynamic to be characterized by any kind of tradition, yet, at the same time it firmly takes roots in those very same regional traditions which it defies. This paragraph smells like contradiction. Let’s try a different one.

Sufjan’s music astounds me because he combines his composing chops with a rich, healthy sound. Not too classical, not to popular. Most musicians today don’t really provide an all-around musical experience like Sufjan does. He sings, composes, plays most of the instruments he features, writes all the lyrics, and is a creative/passionate performer on stage. Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Kenny Chesney don’t have that kind of talent. Sufjan is a classically trained musician who makes his work, as his website terms it, autobiographical.

Ruminating on his early songwriting efforts, Sufjan wrote this:

“My older self, glancing back over simple chords and hazardous poetry, likes to think I’m older, wiser, more mature, more eloquent, more artful, more poignant, more contemporary. But that’s unfair. The concept has changed but the approach has always been the same: to become so completely entrenched in something that it becomes a great big clumsy mummy outfit wrapped around all arms and legs: a metaphysical form of suffocation. Sure, back then, I was young, naïve, unenlightened, untraveled, virtuous, good-natured, and always on time. But the world of youth was where I tried on new ideas, new outfits, new names, and new rhyme schemes—-a world where the banjo was my journal, where Sofia Coppola was my imaginary confidant, and where singing out of tune was perfectly OK!”

Just for a little taste of Sufjan’s raw talent, I give you “Come On! Feel The Illinoise!“.

If you want something a little more emotive: “Casimir Pulaski Day“.

Anyway, this post wasn’t for me to blast on about Sufjan’s awesomeness. This post was to ask Sufjan, “Dude, where is the next CD?”

Two of Sufjan Steven’s CDs have been part of (what has been dubbed) the 50 States Project, which is an effort by Sufjan to create music about each state based on regional folklore and location-oriented themes. Michigan and Illinois were the obvious choices because those were Sufjan’s stomping grounds. The thought of 50 cds from this guy makes me pretty excited, but, let’s keep it real, I realize the infeasibility of this approach. Frankly, I am just ready for the next one. I don’t care what state is chosen, be it New York (as rumored) or New Jersey (as loathed) or Rhode Island or Oregon or California. We haven’t heard from Sufjan since 2006 (excluding Christmas songs and here-and-there singles), and that stinks.

“Rock and roll is kind of like a progression of folk music, music of the people. It’s very primitive and rebellious in nature, and that’s what’s exciting about it—it’s music based on instinct. But then I’m also like torn between that and the prestige and performance and sophistication of high art, classical music, of composition and arrangements for string quartets and woodwind quartet. And I find that I’m always trying to reconcile the two together, and I’m always disappointed when I see pop music, independent bands, and I’m disappointed when I don’t experience the level of sophistication that is inherent in classical music.”

Bring back the goodness Sufjan.

(not to rush you or anything)