Sufjan has stood me up twice. Once is bad, twice is just carelessness.
I'm told he has stood the rest of the UK press up twice as well, but I can't vouch for this. All I know is he had arranged to talk to me, and then didn't show. He appears such a nice guy too. I'm dissapointed. As well as not talking to me, he produced a list of things we were not to talk about, it's perhaps more revealing than a discussion could have been.
He said he's appreciate it if I did my best to stay away from the following topics:
1. The 50 States
2. What State is Next?
4. American Politics
5. George Bush
6. sufjan's family upbringing
7. the new folk movement
But he said that he would like to talk about the following topics that are relevant to the Avalanche album:
1. songwriting, craft, workmanship, mechanics
2. good editing, bad editing
3. personal history vs. general public history (how does one reconcile him/herself to the grand scheme of events?) or, Do historians (and artists) alter those events by insinuating themselves into history?
4. the use of allusion, to other texts, to pop songs, etc. Does it elevate meaning, does it undermine the value of art?
5. Do historical figures make good muses? Why are some of the best artists and writers the most cumbersome subjects for art?
6. Is there such thing as objective history?
7. Is art interesting without tension?
8. Is it necessary to always use the first person "I" in songwriting?
9. What is this "self" obsession on the new collection of outtakes? Know thyself, perpetual self, undivided self?
10. high art vs. low art. The folk aesthetic vs. the trained, classical, academic aesthetic. Does mastery get in the way of the folk aesthetic?
But I haven't got to speak to him. The interview is rescheduled but I may not be able to make it. Here's a thought about the great song-writer, poor interviewee.
Sufjan's parents were 'kind of trial-and-error when it came to religion.' They were into a Subud cult that has ties to Islam and Indonesia and Middle Eastern spiritualism when he was born, hence the name. It's a Muslim name.
His parents dabbled in many different relgions and one night hid dad came home and woke everyone up to announce that they were all converting to catholocism. sufjan later rebelled from his parents by moving away and becoming a christian.
he captured the moment his dad came home in the wonderful song, he woke me up again.
Artist: Sufjan Stevens
Album: Seven Swans
Title: He Woke Me Up Again
He was, he was in the churchyard
My father was in the first part
He came, he came to my bedroom
But I was asleep
He woke me up again to say:
Halle, Halle, Halleluiah
Holy, holy is the sound
And I hope, I hope you are tired out
And I know, I know there is joy endowed
But I was asleep
And he woke me up again
And he woke me up again to say:
Hold on, hold on to your old ways
Or put off, put off every old face
And I know, I know you are changed now
I hope, I hope you're arranged out
But I'm still asleep
And you woke me up again
And I'm still asleep
But you woke me up to be holy