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57. Sufjan Stevens – Chicago



Sufjan Stevens can sometimes overcomplicate his songs with odd codas and overblown arrangements, but for every piece of grandiose orchestration in Chicago there’s a corresponding simplicity to bear it out, and it’s this sense of balance throughout the song that makes it so beautiful.  It opens with an overpoweringly American sense of the magnificent, of wide open highways and unbridled opportunity, but then seconds later ducks into fragile, timid story-telling mode. Similarly, the lyrics eulogise the beatnik idealism of sleeping in the car parks of New York one moment, and express a humble love for some divine creator in the next. However, the constantly alternating moods never undermine each another, and instead intertwine themselves to create a grander tapestry which, with every new twist, becomes more philosophical-sounding (if not actually particularly philosophical) and awe-inspiring. Stevens has written about plenty of backwaters and one-horse towns in his career, but Chicago shuns all that minutiae: this is his Mount Rushmore, his Statue of Liberty – it’s grand but simple, majestic but humble, and always unashamedly so.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kat Arney permalink
    29/10/2009 11:06 am

    You knows I loves it:

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