Day 154: [THEME WEEK] Come On! Feel The Illinoise! by Sufjan Stevens

15 Nov

Hello hello!

Once again, I present SUFJAN STEVENS THEME WEEEEEEK!

Today I bring you a sweet song called “Come On! Feel The Illinoise!” off of his Illinois album. Whenever I’m down or just need a pick-me-up, I throw on this one and just smile. Even if he talks about crying himself to sleep at night…

But before I give you the song, I want to put on record why Illinois automatically jumped to my top ten favorite CDs list:

 

Sufjan in his ILLINOIS uniform

First of all, for those of you who are not familiar with Sufjan’s work, you should know this: his personal goal (about 6 years ago) was to create a unique album for each of the 50 states. He finished Greetings From Michigan: The Great Salt Lake, which was his first of the project and outlined his home state. Then, he went on to produce Illinois, and stopped there.

 

I had heard this CD before, back when it came out, but with my dad trying to force the music into my mind, and my spirit still shaken from moving to a new state, I hadn’t regarded it as any more than just strange. Of course I remember what it was, I mean it’s hard to forget a guy with a name like “Sufjan” and a project so strange as the 50 states. I also remotely remember being a little intrigued but nothing more.

So, of course, as soon as I had listened to one song off of Age of Adz, I had to go find a different song by him to kind of compare it to. And I picked a song off of Illinois

I downloaded the CD that night, and call me strange, but I haven’t been able to put it down since last Saturday. It’s got everything I love: orchestras, uplifting songs, pianos, beautiful vocals, banjos, acoustic guitars, and strange melodies that caught me off guard. Of course the first thing I thought of was how amazing it would sound live (just my luck: he came to Portland about 5 days before I found my love for him. Cue the banging my head on the table).

But there’s just so much about this album I love. “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois” is the first song, and it is incredibly strong: just a piano depicting a city-like melancholy, aided by some flutes to give sort of an exotic feel. Then his voice chimes in, soft and secure, adding to the sadness and beauty this song. It’s such a simple start to a powerful album.

The rest of the songs vary afterwards: “Come On! Feel The Illinoise!” (which is featured below), is such a happy sounding song, while the song immediately following (“John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”) fills the audience with a sorrow, discussing the life of a serial killer. Then there’s “Chicago,” which you’ll be seeing at the end of the week, and “Casmir Pulaski Day”, another song featured this week, both of which are powerful in words and mind. The rest of the album, plays on different styles, with “The Predatory Wasps Of The Palisades Are Out To Get Us!” (soothing and happy-sounding) to “The Seer’s Tower”, (dark and morose) to “The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders” (uplifting and exciting). It’s a mixed CD of lots of emotion, but they are so intense that it bursts from the seams.

This CD is a surprisingly well-crafted image of the human psyche… specifically that of a man who appears to have a lot of troubling thoughts. But the best part is how strangely optimistic it is.

I can’t stop listening to it, and I wonder if it’s because it creates a child-like world of sweetness and naivety.

So there you have it… I’m officially a strange girl who is in love with a CD. But oh well, whatever makes me happy, right?

Here is “Come On! Feel The Illinoise!” by Sufjan Stevens. Let me know what you think of it!

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