Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I posted before about Sufjan's incredible "Djohariah". 12 minutes of guitar solo (and deconstructed guitar solo at that) is not what we've come to expect from this soft and warbly man. But the instrumental section is a perfect compliment to the subject matter of the song, which is entirely melodic and tragic and touching, if you've got the patience to wait around for it. Djohariah (the person) is Sufjan's sister, and has clearly gone through a heartbreaking experience. Has clearly suffered. The lyrics are so personal and immediate, and real. This one is for all the ladies out there (and not in the same way that "I Swear" and "Down On Bended Knee" are for all the ladies out there).

Don’t be ashamed, don’t hide from me now
For the woman is, the woman is the glorious victorious
The mother of the heart of the world

There is a time when the lights will arise
For the mother is, the mother is the glorious victorious
The mother of the heart of the world

Go on! Little sister! Go on! Little sister!
For your world is yours, world is yours
All the wilderness of world is yours

Go on! Little sister! Go on!
For you’re beautiful, beautiful
All the fullness of the world is yours

Of course, I haven't listed "Djohariah" here as number one, although I liked it in certain ways as much as anything I've heard in a long time. The song that I'm here to talk about is "Impossible Soul". And, where to even begin? Probably with a disclaimer. This little ditty is over 25 minutes long, so if the thought of investing a half hour into one song is a bit daunting, you're not alone. My heart sank when I first saw the track length. Would it be some kind of jam-bandy noodle fest? (No. Be at peace. I would ask that you not close the window and move on, but to give it a listen. If you choose otherwise, I completely understand. But I assure you, this song is a masterpiece.) "Impossible Soul" is the most impressive piece of art Sufjan has created to date. It is divided into 5 sections, with lyrics in first, second, and third person points of view. It is a window into his creative process, the psyche of Sufjan Stevens. It is introspective, it is critical, it is self-effacing, but ultimately it is hopeful, and encouraging, and motivating, and entirely joyful. Watching him play this at Kingsbury Hall a few weeks ago is right up there with my most memorable of all concert going experiences, and I've had some good ones. There was a truly genuine feeling of community, and togetherness, and confidence, and affirmation. "It's not so impossible!"

Sufjan Stevens - Impossible Soul (mp3)


Colby said...

Your list, and the month of November, have both been quite the journey for me... Thank you friend.

Anonymous said...

Impossible Soul is also my #1 pick. I've probably listened to it 15 times, which means I've spent 6.25 hours with this tune.

This song plus All Delighted People = untouchable. Best compositions in years.

Les said...

Colby. Thank you. I have issues. I know this. Thanks for sticking it out.

Les said...

Anonymous, yes, All Delighted People is amazing. The end of that song is incredible as it builds to the, "Suffer not the child among you or shall you die young."

I could have thrown 5 or 6 Sufjan songs on this list real easily, but I thought that might not be fair.