Tag Archives: Sufjan Stevens

(Listen to yourself.)

Sufjan Stevens, banjo, heart, wings

Sufjan Stevens, banjo, heart, wings

Unless your heart is prepared to Feel Things, please don’t listen to Sufjan Stevens on the day when your daughter, who suddenly wakes up Very Tall, begins first grade.

Especially don’t listen to a version of this song; don’t listen to it while you’re sitting on the floor with her later that afternoon, constructing a little world from the cardboard boxes sent by her best friend away in Italy, don’t listen, because last winter you watched, with this tall girl, this specific video, heard the sweet story of the wasp…the girl was transfixed last winter by this video, by the young orchestra playing and wearing wings…asked for them again and again…if you listen to this song on this now-day, this tall day, your heart will expand, become a stretched balloon full of the breath of love that is created by biology (she’s your daughter, she’s getting taller, she’s growing so fast) and horomones (you’re older now too, approaching a later life threshold, but feeling younger than ever before in so many ways, how your heart is liberated, flying, soaring, but too, paradoxically full of the knowledge that time becomes shorter and shorter with each exhilarating breath, holding all the complexity of this, and her new shoot of life, this sprout, this girl, all the wings, and what this song means to the young man who wrote it, which has nothing to do with your daughter growing up, except that it does, because all of humanity means this, everything does, as our little interior mirrors work to show and mean what we see in them, always ourselves along with the world and work around us, and how messy and glorious that mess is)…and talk to her at night about death, help her understand what you are still trying to understand, keep telling her that no one knows everything, keep making room for it all…

(And Sufjan sings, “I can tell you, I love him each day…”)

and his earnest, beautiful, shining orchestra plays with him, their hearts in their fingers on strings and keys, telling their own stories, lips on brass, holding bows and sticks and hitting drums to make and manifest together         just           one             thing            .

Which is beauty.

 

Grateful today for the heart that can hold so much.

Wings

Sufjan Stevens, wearing them well

Sufjan Stevens, wearing them well

When I watch this video of Sufjan Stevens doing his song “Chicago” on Austin City Limits, so many things coalesce for me…semi-obvious things that my friends would recognize as important to me (theatrical performance, my recent interest in wearing wings in public) and also things that no one knows, things that float and soar in the interior of my psyche, blind, nameless things, unnamable things, things that make me do the creative work I do, things that keep my heart beating.

(Sufjan Stevens, young wispy man, young crackle-voice, young echo of Clive Owen…oh, how you would have had me swooning back in those younger years, oh, how you now have me swooning for other reasons, less stirred, more steady…)

Oh, you dark dreams of adolescence that soured as you were neglected, decades later return on such iridescent wings, wings made silently in the caves of my heart, refined and fortified over time, now landing you dreams effortlessly, carrying (still!) you old larval friends, now winged on impossibly transparent magic.  Bad metaphors don’t stand up but are somehow sustained by the sound of that old laughter, that trickster, Time.  And Breath.  And Sufjan Stevens sings:

I made a lot of mistakes

I made a lot of mistakes

I made a lot of mistakes

I made a lot of mistakes

“I love that song,” says my six-year-old daughter, who asked to watch the video on youtube, again.

(Me too, sweetie, thinks her mama, caught, deliciously, between the push and the pull of that trickster, Time.)