Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jay's Playlist: Sufjan Stevens - Chicago

Welcome to my playlist, where I discuss the music which is currently entertaining me. Below you will find a video, press play to begin the song and then read my feelings on it.

Today's piece is...
Chicago by Sufjan Stevens

I have no clue who Sufjan Stevens is. My indie music friends swear by him and are appalled by that last phrase. One of them sent me some music to introduce me to the "miracle" that is Sufjan Stevens. I listened to his entire "Illinoise" album and didn't find much to like. But I love this one song. From the opening string motif to the infectious drum beat to the final chorus chant, this song hits all the right notes for me. I haven't actually sat down and listened to the lyrics (I listen to enough foreign language music and classical operas that a voice is only an instrument to me, sometimes it takes years for me to actually notice the singer is trying to force a message on me) but the voice pitch and timbre just work for me. I can't listen to the piece and not cheer up, the energy is infectious. This one attribute has put this song into a rare category: it is now a ringtone on my phone. Whenever I hear the ringtone I am energized and excited to talk to the contacts to which it is attached. Although sometimes this backfires as I end up listening to the entire rigntone and have to call the contacts back when it is over. Funny enough, I think the song's message is supposed to be somber and about searching for redemption (again, I really need to listen to the lyrics).

I've listened to the acoustic version and for once I actually like the original version over the simple guitar version (this is rare):

This version just depresses me to no end. It is beautiful in its own right, but without the drums, chorus, and spirited trumpet the music just feels so sad. Its amazing how the same lyrics and notes can create different feeling by using different instruments.

Regardless, Chicago is a great piece and in the future I plan on giving a new Sufjan Stevens song a listen to see if it is either another "Chicago" or another "Out of Egypt, into the Great Laugh of Mankind, and I shake the dirt from my sandals as I run" (seriously, its not worth listening to)

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