A Sufjan Stevens Primer

A few months ago I saw a headline, “Somebody ranked all 293 Sufjan Stevens songs,” and I clicked.  

I’ve loved Sufjan’s music since 2005’s Illinois. That album was an eccentric collection of songs about the U.S. state. One song explored the mythology of serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr. with sympathy. Another song, “The Seer’s Tower,” is a haunting elegy that’s cryptic and spiritual. But every Sufjan song is a symphony. Even when he strips away the instrumentation, you’re left with lyrics that are vivid and lush. 

I don’t always know what he’s talking about. But I don’t care. His music matters. It scrapes past the superficial and strokes the soul. If you’re looking to get transported, the top 20 songs in the ranking of all 293 songs (thanks to Peyton Thomas) are a great place to start. 

You can find them here: Sufjan’s Top 20 Tracks  (listed from No. 20, “Concerning the UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois” to No. 1, “The Predatory Wasp of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us”).

If it were my list, I’d add “Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid).” You can listen below. 


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