Sunday, February 21, 2010

Soul Coughing 5.


Current Music:
Artist: Sufjan Stevens.

Song(s): Come on! Feel the Illinoise!

Album(s): Illinois. (Sometimes referred to as Illinoise.)


Hello again, dear ones.

Today is February 21st 2010. That may not seem like a big deal to any of you... but for me, it actually marks one of the most important days of my life. A year ago today, I was baptized (and the next day confirmed) a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! :) I'm still strong and know that I will never regret this decision. I'm exactly where I need to be in this Church. It's been a wonderful experience so far.

In other news, tonight I'll be on the 10 o'clock news (Channel 6) speaking about budget cuts in education. As we all know, our economy is really struggling right now. A place that is really feeling this is education, but specifically, Alternative education. In the interview, I speak about the importance of Alternative education and how important the program has been in my life, why it has, etc. I also read my letter that I wrote to Senator Dan Newberry and Representative Fred Jordan about this crisis and urge them to refrain from cutting our budget too severely so that we continue what we do. Tomorrow, I'll be going to Oklahoma City with several other students to speak to these Senators and Representatives in person about why it's important to us and urge them further. I'm very excited about this, and have definitely stepped up and taken action to represent our program.

And finally, I'd just like to share a little bit of musical magic with you. :) I have many favorite artists and bands, as we all know. I'm quite a music connoisseur, to say the least. I shared this particular artist with you above as well... but I figured he deserved some more light shone on him. His name is Sufjan Stevens (pronounced Soof-Yawn; Despite his unique name, both he and his parents are American. His Wikipedia article has this information to share on his name: Sufjan is a Persian name that predates Islam and most famously belonged to Abu Sufyan, a figure from early Islamic history. The name was given to Stevens by the founder of Subud, an inter-faith, non-religious spiritual community to which his parents belonged when he was born. The name "Sufjan" means "comes with a sword.") and he's been a favorite of mine since I was fourteen. I discovered him the same day I discovered the equally lovely M. Ward. He was born in Detroit, Michigan and has been making music since a young age. He's known for his use of banjo, flute, piano, violin, drums, and plenty of other instruments; According to Last.FM, he is considered part of the folk revival through indie pop, but his influences are very broad, including experimental electronic music, the jazz of Vince Guaraldi, and the academic minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

Over the summer, I shared his music with Susannah and Amanda, and they fell in love. They still listen to his CD's in the car.
Perhaps one reason why I'm so drawn to him is the fact that he tells stories in his songs... and each one is very influenced by Christ and Christianity in general. In his song To Be Alone With You, he sings about what he would do to be alone with Christ, as well as acknowledging what Christ did for us during the Atonement. (I'll include the lyrics to that song below so you can read.)

I'll share some of my Sufjan Stevens favorites below. Though I love and recommend every one that he’s written, as well as every one I share below, the songs I have italicized are my favorites out of these favorites. :)

Songs from the album Seven Swans:


The Dress Looks Nice on You
To Be Alone With You
He Woke Me Up Again
Seven Swans

Songs from the album Illinois:

Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
Come on! Feel the Illinoise!
John Wayne Gacy, Jr.


Songs from the album The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras from Illinois

No Man’s Land


Songs from the album Michigan:

Say Yes! To M!ch!gan!
Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickerel Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)


Songs from the album Michigan (vinyl: disc 2):

(Extra note: This song isn’t really well known at all. But, I love the instrumental aspect of it. I also really love the message he tries to portray to us here.)


Songs from the album Peace! Songs for Christmas Vol. 5

Sister Winter
(Extra note: This is a song he wrote, rather than the covers that he usually sticks with for his Christmas albums. It really doesn’t have a lot to do with Christmas at all, actually… mostly winter, as the title indicates, and his emotions in a depressed situation. It’s really raw, and I think many of us could very easily identify with it and how we feel during tough times. Instrumentally, it’s a beautiful mix of piano and violin. His voice is very haunting in this song as well. This is the first Sufjan song I ever heard.. it’s also probably my all time favorite, if I had to pick one. I encourage everyone to listen to it, even if you don’t listen to any of the others.)

The lyrics to To Be Alone With You:
"I'd swim across Lake Michigan,
I'd sell my shoes,
I'd give my body to be back again,
In the rest of the room...
To be alone with you.
To be alone with you.
To be alone with you.
To be alone with you.

You gave your body to the lonely,
They took your clothes.
You gave up a wife and a family,
You gave your ghost...
To be alone with me.
To be alone with me.
To be alone with me,
You went up on a tree.

To be alone with me,
You went up on a tree.

I've never known a man who loved me,
I've never known a man who loved me as you."

I hope you enjoy.

Ta ta for now!

[Photo Credit: Andrew Hefter Photography.]

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