Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2005 : 43-44 Two tracks by Sufjan Stevens

"John Wayne Gacy. Jr."

No matter what year, I cannot think of any other song as beautiful and literally haunting. This brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Stevens crafts a look at a serial killer with none of the obvious expectations. He hints at Gacy's childhood, the accident that may have been one of the factors in his later killing spree, some of the personality traits that people admired in him, and his deadly legacy. The part that gets me the most is the look at his victims:

Even more, they were boys
With their cars, summer jobs
Oh my god.

I'm getting chills listening to this right now. There's no overt sympathy and no overt judgement. It's a painting of a distinct personality, one who killed twenty-seven people. Stevens' "fifty states project" is only two albums deep, but there's a wealth of history and meticulous detail. He takes the bad with the good in Illinois history, as evident with this track.


This has an initial vote for one of my favorite songs of all time. This is a city anthem that doesn't mention any specifics of the area, and even mentions another state, New York. It's a reflection on youth, road trips, friendship, and coming to terms with past mishaps. These mishaps and mistakes are not mentioned specifically, but one can only imagine that they're the tyical blunders associated with being young. However, this the ultimate anthem to the city of Chicago, even though the emotions can be reflective of any major city. The vocal chorus towards the end of the song is achingly beautiful. Stevens is the ultimate musician, combining beautiful melodies and evocative lyrics, and this is one of the highlights of the decade. There is no hyberbole here; just listen.

Jamie Yates

Listen: Sufjan Stevens >> "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." | "Chicago"

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