Here in the LC we pride ourselves on our ability to keep pace with popular culture, both past and present day, and we routinely pay tribute to artists who earn our stamp of approval. From first rate musicians and performers to Internet junkies with nothing better to do than create random videos of perfectly senseless hilarity to keep us entertained, we feel it is our duty as scholars and citizens to highlight worldwide talents who have left us with a better appreciation of the art of the everyday man. This is why I find it so strange — nay, I might even venture to declare it to be downright bewildering, that one particular musician has escaped our attention for so many years. Over the course of many sleepless nights spent surfing the web for some unknown source of amusement, I came across a few sample clips of songs by the singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens, a fellow Michigander turned New Yorker, who has, as I found, an amazing talent for combining folk rock with classical, and occasionally even experimental elements. Throw in some moving, narrative-style lyrics, which he does in his more recent albums, and you have one of the finest displays of symphonic mastery that has in our time come to fruition.
What I love about Sufjan Stevens is his ability to not only recognize and draw attention to the private struggles and daily means of living of the nation’s common man, but also the way in which his music, rich in an array of rare and familiar instruments and choral accompaniment, lends to the feeling that each story is beautiful in its own way, and good will and hope exist for even the simplest man, woman, and child. His lyrics are intimate and accessible, not to mention buoyed up by the the beauty of human faith and spirituality, a common theme. It is not so much the religious aspect of this message that speaks so universally. I myself am agnostic. I do not deny the existence of a god, nor would I argue if hard evidence of the existence of a supreme being were laid before me. What I can say for Sufjan Stevens’ ability to project his faith with such beauty and sincerity is that witnessing it has been enough to convince me that there must be something greater than you or me, or even The Library Club (if you can imagine), something that inspires him with the means to move us all, through the creation of such a touching, harmoniously lyrical celebration of music and life.
This November Sufjan will be performing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as he presents his interpretation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). The artist is known for his amazing live performances, which often involve vividly colored costumes and props, and this show promises to be every bit as exciting. Much to my dismay it has long been sold out, but some tickets have been listed on ebay…for any of you current or potentially future fans who are loaded with excess income. My heart breaks, as I am not.
If anyone should find themselves lucky enough to go, feel free to send us your pictures and comments so we can include them with our shout out to Sufjan Stevens. Also, if you should go, send him love from the LC.
For further reading, visit http://asthmatickitty.com/musicians.php?artistID=5