30-Day Song Challenge Day 23

Day 23 of the 30-day song challenge and we’re back to the head-scratching and shouting, ‘How do I pick just ONE song at the screen?!’ Today I have to decide which song I think everyone should hear, like some kind of music dictator. Sort of like Simon Cowell, but with a heart.

The 30-day song challenge for anyone unaware of what it is is a challenge to pick one song a day for 30 consecutive days based on the list below. I decided it would be a good writing exercise to write a blog post every day about my choices. I didn’t think it through, but we’re here now. So strap in and enjoy the show!

30-day song challenge

Day 23

So, being told to pick a song that everybody should listen to adds a bit of pressure I didn’t expect from this list. I know this isn’t the same pressure as performing a heart transplant or deciding on a favourite breakfast cereal but all the same, it’s a pressure I haven’t experienced since I last went to the opticians.

The song I’m picking isn’t my favourite by the artist, but it’s a song that encapsulates him very well. My hope is that after listening to the track you not only want to hear it again but that you want to hear the whole album. Then, having listened to that album, you move onto this next and his next.

Once A Great Place, Now A Prison

I think it’s an absolute travesty that more people haven’t heard Sufjan Stevens. Ok, so there are more important things to think about such as what your hair looks like before a job interview or which celebrity you would like to eat first after the apocalypse, but this is still important to me. I was introduced to Stevens by my flatmate at the time, and by the end of my first listen, I knew I had heard something different. I also knew I would be listening to it for the rest of my life.

In 2003 Sufjan Stevens released his third album, ‘Michigan’, a concept album about his home state in America. Upon its release, he announced that he planned to record an album for each American state. Two years later he released an album ‘Illinois’ about…well, I’m sure you can guess. Sadly for me, Stevens then announced that the planned 50 states inspired albums was just a promotional gimmick.

But Sufjan recorded two extraordinary albums and the one song I’m choosing from them is ‘Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)’ from the Michigan album.

All I Can Say, All I Can Do

As I say, I don’t think ‘Detroit’ is his best track, but it’s probably the best starting point as it encompasses his work so well from the softly sung lyrics, the multi-instrument sound and the change in direction halfway through the track. It’s quite beautiful. More impressive is that he recorded it himself, using relatively cheap equipment. A factor that doesn’t seem possible on listening to the album.

I think everyone should listen to this track, then the album and then spread the word. If you don’t do those three things, we may have to reevaluate this relationship we’re forming. I am a musical dictator, and you shall do what I say! Now turn it up.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another musical choice for you to decide how bad my taste is. Until then you can check out the Spotify playlist –


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Rivergirl says:

    For you, I listened to this track. Well, parts of it… because who in their right mind would listen to the whole thing? I shall neither be listening to the entire album nor spreading the word so please feel free to re-examine our relationship. I know I will.

    1. Criticizing my musical taste again? Very unlike you…

      1. Rivergirl says:

        I call ‘em like I see ‘em. Or hear ‘em as the case may be…

  2. It wasn’t a promotional gimmick. It was just like your 30-day song challenge. He committed, then realized what a mistake it had been to make that commitment. It does you great credit that you’ve stuck this out when what’s-his-face bailed after the second state. He should be promoting YOUR work! Also, I’m bitter that he never made an album called Minnesota!

    1. Ha – I have had this conversation with a friend. He did more than likely realise how long it was going to take him to all the states. On an average of one a year he’d be in his 70s by the time he finished. Sad he didn’t do it though.

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