General Question

BirdlegLeft's avatar

Can someone offer up some perspective on the Sufjan Stevens' albums "Michigan," and "Illinoise?"?

Asked by BirdlegLeft (811points) June 13th, 2008 from iPhone

I recently got these and two others. They are dense musically and lyrically, and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around them. Are they autobiographical? Are they news stories? Help!

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19 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

I’ve listened, but they haven’t grabbed me.

BirdlegLeft's avatar

@PupnTaco, I can’t seem to stop listening. I’ve been listening to those four albums since Wednesday.

generalspecific's avatar

they’re amazing, i love sufjan. and plus, he has a song about the godfrey corn maze, which is the town where i live. you can’t help but dig a song like that ;)

bearfair's avatar

I think they’re a mix of autobiography and state history. His stated plan is to release an album named for every state in the union.

BirdlegLeft's avatar

@bearfair, I heard that too. He is very productive, but I have my doubts as to whether or not he’ll be able to acheive his goal. None the less, I wish him good luck.

whatthefluther's avatar

He is a remarkable songwriter and musician (I believe he plays all instruments on both Illinoise and Michigan). Both albums are impressive musical travelogues containing a mix of personal recollections, historical narratives and some little known facts. I can’t wait to see what he does with California.

bearfair's avatar

@birdlegleft: yeah, i have my doubts too, especially because the last state-themed album that came out was Illinois in 2005. He’s put out two other, non-themed state albums since then, but if he wants to get to all fifty he’d better get crackin’. I read somewhere that Oregon might be the next state album, which is where I live- that would be kind of exciting.

Trustinglife's avatar

I heard about Sufjan through “Little Miss Sunshine” and downloaded a few songs. He’s grown on me some…

I absolutely love the song, “For the Windows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti.” Anyone know what the instrument is on it?

bluemukaki's avatar

Take for example the song ‘Decatur, or a round of applause for your step-mother” which is basically re-counting the history of Decatur.

Casimir Pulaski Day on the other hand sounds like a personal recount about someone dying of cancer on the 1st of March.

I want to see (hear) what he will do with Connecticut…

BirdlegLeft's avatar

@Trustinglife, I’m not I’ve heard that one yet. I’ll take half a minute and see if I can download from someplace.

BirdlegLeft's avatar

He’s got this song on “Seven Swans” called “Size Too Small.” At the beginning of the song he sounds as if he’s recounting a friend’s wedding wearing his “side too small.” But at some point he manages to sound like he’s singing about someone else. Or rather, he shifts perpective. Regardless, another great and interesting song.

Trustinglife's avatar

When I clicked “Get info,” I saw that it also said, ”(The OC 3×15).” Maybe the song played on the OC show? Did you find it, birdlegleft?

BirdlegLeft's avatar

@Trustinglife, “For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti” is from the album “Michigan.” But, I’m not sure which instrument you’re wondering about. I don’t mean to sound sarcastic but do you mean the banjo? If you listen with headphones you’ll hear that he layers a lot parts sometimes with slight variations to them and panning them left and right in the mix.

BirdlegLeft's avatar

So, banjo for certain. Also, maybe French horn? Or something similar.

Trustinglife's avatar

Thanks! I guess it’s clear I don’t know how to pick out the banjo. But maybe now I will!

dvchuck's avatar

I absolutely love his “John Wayne Gacy” piece. Way to set a mood!

dvchuck's avatar

I’m a high school band director and my marching band is playing two pieces from the “Illinois” CD. We are using “Tallest Man” and “Predatory Wasp” in our Fall show.

BirdlegLeft's avatar

I love “Predatory Wasp.” Great music, and interesting lyrics.

I think it’s pretty cool as a band director to seek out non-traditional pieces to play. I’d imagine it helps keep the students more interested and involved.

shrubbery's avatar

Casimir Pulaski Day is about ‘the problem of evil and suffering’. That is to say, if God is all loving and all powerful then how is there suffering in the world? In particular why does God ‘let’ innocent people suffer? It is about coming to terms with this.

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