I listen to a lot of music, I have no favorite song or artist, or even a favorite genre. However, I do have a favorite album. I’m the kind of person who’ll pick a single great song out of an entire stack and hate the rest. But just one album has seemed to hold the only spot in my favorites category every day since I first heard it in 2005. The indie album “Illinois” by Sufjan Stevens.
I’m not sure why this one album enraptured me so much. Maybe because it had been engrained in my life for so long. Now this isn’t the only album from Stevens that I love. “Carrie & Lowell” is excellent, and several songs cherry picked from a few other albums made my playlist as well. “Illinois” though, man...don’t even get me started on track 9. That’s my jam. I’ve got it on all my devises, I covet the CD, and have a backup cassette just in case ;)
Topping the charts back in 2005 doesn’t seem to do it enough justice. It should’ve stayed there, though it did make the top 100 songs of this century according to the “Rolling Stone.” Every track is so perfectly scored, and each one fits beautifully as a whole, with one another. The music itself takes a ride through contemporary orchestration and pure musical genius; drawing stories of the state and moulding them into metaphors of our country, and of the human condition.
I couldn’t talk enough about it, there’s too much packed into this 70 some minute playlist of radical composition. But that number 9, the hit song “Chicago” is probably one of the best songs produced...ever... Now I’m not dissing other music, I love classic rock. I love all those music giants, Armstrong, Sinatra, Berry, but this song is just fantastic.
Moving on from mistakes, fixing lives, whatever it’s about, the music that backs it all is phenomenal.
Of course, many of the other tracks are fantastic, but don’t quite achieve level “9”.
Track 2, “The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!’” Is probably his most creatively named track of the whole album, aside from the one about the zombies which includes the onomatopoeia of someone yelling with five “h”s at the end.
As for overall content, “the Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is our to get us,” is another great one on the track. Condemned by some for underlaying homosexual vibes, the track itself is artfully created and showcases Stevens’ vocals quite well. Another good vocal song would be his one about the infamous Chicago serial killer, John Wayne Gacy.
All in all, I couldn’t speak enough about the album. It’s been such a huge part of my musical life, and while I can’t say the Indie genre is my favorite, or he’s my favorite artist, I can say that this is my favorite album. Maybe not my favorite songs, but defiantly my favorite album.