I began to notice that there were diminishing returns in being there, like the city itself was no longer of service to me, and I was no longer of service to it.”. There is a song on The Ascension called “Goodbye to All That,” a reference to Joan Didion’s famous essay about leaving New York; there is Sufjan Stevens autobiography still to be found. As a queer man who grew up ten minutes away from where Sufjan went to college, I can attest that the chains of Midwestern heteronormativity are a heavy burden.

“It was intentional to eliminate anything autobiographical or personal or narrative. I didn’t want anything representational,” he said. A list of fundraisers you can support right now. Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss a story. I finally gave myself license to speak like that in music. We must be, and know, and love ourselves. But the songs on The Ascension aren’t something you would mistake for, say, chill lo-fi beats. In the first two sentences of the blog, he quotes both RuPaul and Jesus Christ. “We went to Alateen meetings when we were kids because there was alcoholism in my family, and they had all these signs all over the walls at the community hall where we would go to these meetings. But his new record, The Ascension, the first he has finished in his new studio upstate, is not exactly a tribute to rural life. For our poverty. For our religion. “Sometimes I think these platitudes can speak for deeper truths in moments of crisis when you don’t have the words or the wherewithal or the resources to really fully comprehend in language what’s going on,” he said. Spotify to offer artists and labels the option to promote their music in your recommendations, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” soundtracks a new Joe Biden campaign ad, Serj Tankian on the threat of genocide in Artsakh. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/20) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 1/1/20) and Your California Privacy Rights.

But that's exactly why Sufjan's willingness to bridge queer pride and religion is inherently important. We must be born again. ", Sufjan's theory is that "failure to love is a failure to be oneself, a failure to be human," and that the concept of self-loathing stems from when Adam and Eve initially gave into temptation. "To love yourself, you must know yourself. “Some of the subject matter is pretty heavy and there’s certainly a lot of criticism and agony being expressed,” he said. This morning, he doubled down on the intention of "Love Yourself" in an essay posted to his Tumblr, which reads like his most open declaration yet. What is totally different is his lyrical approach. “I started to feel like a visitor, like a foreigner in the city,” he said. Unable to find a new one, he put his instruments into storage and felt his relationship to the place begin to change. The same idea that had made the Michigan-native artist Sufjan Stevens a 2000s indie-rock sensation was, for a few years, threatening to turn him into a punchline. Since then he’s continued his prolific output, seen mainly through collaborations; in 2019, he did his fifth composition for New York City Ballet choreographer Justin Peck, and earlier this year he released an experimental album he made with his former stepfather and label director Lowell Brams. For Stevens, the change comes a few years after he reached new heights in his career. For our wealth. To love without compromise and without equivocation.

“I started gardening, I bought an ATV, I bought a chain saw. If "Love Yourself" can convince just one kid that it's okay for them to embrace the duality of God and gayness out of respect for themselves, that's some immense power. They’re based on statements, imperatives and declaratives, platitudes.”. By Salvatore Maicki. Get the latest chatter, from Kensington Palace and beyond, straight to your inbox. Writing and recording The Ascension came as Stevens was just beginning to mull leaving New York, the city where he lived when he wrote much of the music he is known for, from his odes to Flint and Detroit on 2003’s Michigan to “Chicago,” the exuberant centerpiece on 2005’s Illinois.

© 2020 Condé Nast. The unbearable lightness of being Sufjan Stevens. The remedy for it all, according to Sufjan, is love. I want to just deal with the problems head-on, no mincing of words.”. Besides, there’s something almost tragic about living in circumstances that make a person long obsessed with nuance and detail feel moved to cast them aside. We must go back to the beginning. Last year, after nearly two decades as a resident of New York City, Sufjan Stevens moved to the Catskills, and it’s already changed him. “But at some point I just decided to own it.”. “After the election of Donald Duck, I started to feel that the song had a meaning and relevance beyond what I understood at the time,” he said. Ad Choices. The double-single arrived as a prelude to Pride Month, an affirmation punctuated by its rainbow-tinted cover art. For Sufjan Stevens, the answer has appeared to be to do as much Other Stuff as possible. “There’s a lot of catchphrases, a lot of cliches. He was referencing the way we’ve adjusted to life during a pandemic, but it’s equally applicable to some of the issues that motivated him to make the album. Our boy Sufjan has never been expressly open about his sexuality outside of his lyrics (here's looking at you, "Predatory Wasp of the Palisades"), leading fans to often lovingly speculate whether his songs are gay or about God. “Maybe we should consider that—maybe we can also change politics and change the systems of government and society.”, Unlike the record’s narrator, Stevens feels some hope. While he was planning his next move, Stevens began writing a suite of songs using the only implements he had—his computer, some synthesizers, and a drum machine. “I’m utterly no longer a city dweller, which is pretty exciting,” he said in a recent interview. Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy. It isn't that deep. For our sexuality. But upon listening, it’s almost hard to find anger that isn’t tinged with sadness or resignation. "This is our duty at every moment.

In The Ascension, he rejects that approach. He told me that he was afraid the album would come off as too angry.

Citing Jesus and RuPaul in equal measure, Stevens encourages his readers and fan-base to break the cycle of self-loathing and shame, finding the beauty in their existence: This is our calling as well: to be human again. You can read the whole essay over here. To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. The title track is accusatory and disdainful, but it ends with a repeated refrain of “What now?” Even the songs that discuss romantic love, like “Video Game” and “Landslide,” are also concerned with betrayal, pain, and defeat.

A couple weeks back, Sufjan Stevens quietly emerged with two new tracks, "Love Yourself" and "With My Whole Heart." It’s emotionally elusive and almost entirely electronic—and he sees it as a foray into making something like pop music. For being naked in a garden.". The fact that a man's undisclosed sexuality has evoked so much intrigue that it's been memed about (however affectionate the intent) is slightly unsettling, to say the least. © 2020 Paste Media Group. Sufjan Stevens continues to champion self-love. I don’t need to project a narrative onto a crisis like this. It’s a real departure for the multi-instrumentalist, whose songs can range from symphonic jaunts on Illinois to spacious acoustic folk on records like Seven Swans. To have awareness without shame, we must undo everything the world has told us about our worth. It’s somewhat preachy and a little bitchy and cynical and mean-spirited. That was evident in the singles he released to ring in Pride Month, and it’s even more clear in the new essay he’s shared on his website to celebrate Loving Day. Like, ‘Keep It Moving’ or ‘Let Go and Let God’ or ‘Easy Does It.’ ‘One Day at a Time.’ I find myself falling back on those when I’m at a loss.”, There is a song on The Ascension called “Goodbye to All That,” a reference to Joan Didion’s famous essay about leaving New York; there is Sufjan Stevens autobiography still to be found. “As deeply as I had fallen in love with it, I had suddenly fallen out of love with all the things. And he's absolutely correct.



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