Stevens just hit his 40th year yesterday at first of July. During his fifteen-year career in music, he has released seven studio albums, has some side projects (Sisyphus, Marzuki, etc) and has kept his effortlessly hot appearance. No, seriously. He is hot, even for a forty-year-old man, and anyone with sane mind--regardless of his gender and sexuality--should have a crush on him.
In the spirit of Stevens' 40th birthday, I am going to dig through his several catalogs (sans A Sun Came and Enjoy Your Rabbit since I haven't had the opportunity--and importantly, time--to hear them) and pick some of my favorite songs by this amazing (and hot) musician.
In no particular order, here are my favorite songs.
1. Should Have Known Better
Stevens' bitter past allows him to show the brittle and delicate side of himself. 'Should Have Known Better' recounts his childhood experience when he began to realize that his family was not as perfect as he thought. When he sings, "When I was three, three maybe four, she left us at video store", he tries to collect his memories when his mother left him and his siblings from their life. Even though this song is gloomy, but at the time when Stevens shifts the chord and sings in falsetto, Stevens is filled with hope. "Nothing can be changed. The past is still the past", he whispers, finally letting go of everything, regretting nothing. It's as if a crepuscular ray of sunlight tries to go through thick clouds and create a breathtaking scenery.
A list of Sufjan Stevens tracks will be incomplete without 'Chicago'. The biggest city in Illinois and the windiest city in America has inspired Stevens. In this youthful track, Stevens recalls his experience from his road trip to Chicago. 'Chicago' depicts the wild side of Stevens. It crushes everything we have imagined about Stevens as shown in "We slept in parking lot. I don't mind, I don't mind". Well, Stevens probably "made a lot mistake" in this song, but I can't deny that 'Chicago' is Stevens' most successful song as well as the most defining and the most salient.
3. Casimir Pulaski Day
Stevens is undoubtedly a religious person. He often inserts Christian references here and there on his songs. However, he's no saint. He's still human being. When he longs for a thing, and God doesn't grant it, as humane as he can be, he shouts, "Tuesday night at the Bible study, we lift our hands and pray over your body, but nothing every happens." 'Casimir Pulaski Day' talks about pure love, illness, death, sepulcher and higher deity. When the lover of his passes away, Stevens goes through the first state of grief, as he sings, "In the morning in the winter shade on the first of March, on the holiday, I thought I saw you breathing." But, finally he accepts everything and acknowledges that God has better plan for his lover.
4. Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickeral Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)
I admit that up until now I am struggling with my faith, and I think everyone has undergone the same phase at least once. In 'Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickeral Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?', Stevens also questions the omnipresence of God. He screams, "Oh God, hold me now. Oh Lord, hold me now. There's no other man who could raise the dead." He misses God, and really needs His help. But, sometimes God works in mysterious way or sometimes we turn deaf when God speaks His will.
5. All Of Me Wants All Of You
"You checked your texts while I masturbated. Manelich, I feel so used" is the most boldest and bravest couplet Stevens has ever written. While music critics discuss what Manelich could mean, inquire his sexuality (as Manelich is a male name), "You checked your texts while I masturbated" is a precise analogy to describe a dying relationship where the couple starts to be apathetic toward each other. Similar to the other tracks from Carrie & Lowell, 'All Of Me Wants All Of You' also talks about Stevens' mother. He misses the presence of mother when he whispers, "Traced your shadow with my shoe, empty outline changed my view."
6. I Walked
Age of Adz is the experimental album by Stevens, and I can't enjoy it as much as Stevens' other albums. But 'I Walked' is my favorite song of the album. It somehow reminisces the folk Stevens. Inspired by Royal Robertson's life, 'I Walked' is about a break of the relationship.
7. The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Heart
Illinois provide us various tunes of Sufjan Stevens, proving his genius and flair in crafting songs. A rock guitar riff starts 'The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Heart'. But it's not only that. Stevens also includes other instruments, such as marching bands, jazz instrument and electronic ambient, as if he tried to say, "Fuck music genre!" His work creates a cheerful song like this, and it has the capability to lift your mood all day.
8. All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands
Stevens is known to use several Biblical references on his songs, and Seven Swans is heavily filled with them. 'All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands'--even if the lyrics seem bland--is very rich in Biblical references. The title itself is taken from Isaiah. This song is about Stevens' preparation in welcoming the God's second coming--which gives a chill to my bone.
9. Vito's Ordination Song
This is another extraordinary song by Stevens as he wrote in point of view of Jesus. Vito is Stevens' best friend, and he asked Stevens to write a song about his ordination as a Presbyterian minister. Stevens must exceed his expectation when he finally came up with this. 'Vito's Ordination Song' reminds us the love of God, how He knows everything about us--even before we are born. "I always knew you in your mothers arms." He also knows the best plan for our life "to be a better man". This song is genuine and somehow makes me closer to Him.
10. The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us
As copied from Paste Magazine, this song relates experiences from his childhood summer camp. The beginning flute solo puts us right on the floor with the child narrator. As he writes a letter home, he ponders the nature of the living