Musical Odyssey (Pt. 1)

OK: back to the Over the Rhine tangent. This all began a little over a year ago, as I was exploring my brand new (free) subscription to Paste Magazine, one of those things that begins arriving at your door when you move, even when you don't ask for it. And it included this sampler CD, offering some 25 tracks from artists, most of whom I had never heard of. I devoured it, but it was the last track that grabbed my attention: someone named Sufjan Stevens who was doing an instrumental arrangement, ending with a choir singing a verse of "All Creatures of Our God and King." Intrigued, I dug further, and ran across an album of his called Seven Swans, full of songs about the Transfiguration, Revelation, the binding of Isaac. Besides which, critics seemed to have nothing but wonderful things to say about this odd genius. I wanted the album for my birthday, and got it. I couldn't stop listening. "To Be Alone with You" is a stand-out from that album. (There don't seem to be any official Sufjan videos out there, so what follows are fan-made ones, of varying quality; but the whole song is there)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5BHdxUraj0]

From there, I devoured his entire catalog; most of the music wasn't overtly religious like that of Seven Swans, but had religiously-tinged themes. His album Illinoise was next (yes, that's how it's spelled). And two songs stood out in particular:

  • "John Wayne Gacy, Jr.", a beautiful, haunting, disturbing¬†track about the serial killer, which ends with the singer daring someone to unearth the secrets beneath his floor boards. "All have sinned..."

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otx49Ko3fxw]

  • "Casimir Pulaski Day", a gorgeous song about the death of a close friend which ends with cryptic images of redemption.

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGYdThGaDks]

Elizabeth and I went to see him at the Fox Theater when he came to town, the most aesthetically beautiful show I have ever seen. We were mesmerized in the third row. He's at the top of my current musical awakening list.

More to come...