In some Snow Patrol song that I can’t remember the lead singer states something about Sufjan Stevens “Chicago” bursting into life. That’s exactly how I felt the first time I heard “Chicago.” It sounded antiquated and new and exciting at the same time. I quickly purchased Illinois after hearing it just one time, and an obsession was born.
If you look at my Last.fm stats, you will see that Sufjan is completely ahead of any other band including The Cure and The Replacements. This isn’t entirely fair to those bands. Around the time Illinois came out, I struggled severely with insomnia. I found out that if played this album while trying to go to sleep, I would eventually enter a dream state around “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades.” While for some people they could see where his music is boring and sleep inducing, for me, it was me totally becoming immersed in the stories and the music that put me to sleep. In other words, I dreamt a lot about Illinois, a state I have yet to visit.
Lyrics is always what pulls me into music, except for in Sufjan’s case. His lyrics are great pieces of storytelling, but for me it’s the layers of music. Being a non-musical person, I akin his sound to that of Photoshop. You start with a base layer, and then compile layers and layers to create a something amazing. However, if you remove all the layers, there is still a good song there. I consumed his entire catalog. Even though he can do acoustic as well as electronic, the ideas of layers are there. Every time I listen to his albums find something new.
When I received an email from Asthmatic Kitty Records that he was going on tour, I emailed Cristina letting her know that we were going. There was nothing on the calendar, but if there would have been it would have been erased.