Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Sufjan Stevens (III)

Last night my wife and I got to see Sufjan Stevens in concert at The Tabernacle in downtown Atlanta. The venue is relatively small, with an open floor in front of the stage and two levels of seats above and around the stage like an old playhouse or drama theatre. Somehow, we got to be on the third level, with seats on the front row in the exact center, so that we had a perfect view of the entire stage (and thus of all 11 musicians) with Sufjan directly in front of us. Remarkable!

And the show, per the high expectations, was magnificent. It was aesthetically overwhelming, presentationally bizarre, self-consciously unpopulist, and neurotically intentional; in other words, exactly what one hopes for in seeing Sufjan Stevens in person. It was one great amalgam of apocalypse, therapy session, digital bombast, and quiet harmonies. And now that he is off the "Must See Live If In Town No Matter What The Bank Account Says" list, Iron & Wine is next up -- this Tuesday!

The song below wasn't actually played Saturday night, but it is one of my favorites off the recent All Delighted People EP: the 17-minute "slow rock jam" that ends the album. The actual singing starts about 12 and a half minutes in, and reveals the song as a whole to be a kind of sequel to "Sister" on Seven Swans, both musically and lyrically.


Djohariah


By Sufjan Stevens

I know you won’t get very far
With the back seat driver in the carpetbagger
With the dagger heart grabber stuck in your car

And the yard is grown to a hilt
And the money spent money spent where it went
Embarrassment, embarrassment to pay for the car

And the man who left you for dead
He’s the heart grabber back stabber double cheater wife beater
You don’t need that man in your life

And you worked yourself to the bone
While the people say what they say
It’s the neighbors anyway
They don’t know what’s good for your life

And I see your head hangs low
In the black shadow, half shadow
Living room is fitting is sitting room is fit for your crying

Don’t be ashamed—don’t hide in your room
For the woman is, woman is the glorious victorious
The mother of the heart of the world

Djohariah, Djohariah...
Djohariah, Djohariah...
Djohariah, Djohariah...
Djohariah, Djohariah...

And the time you held to the light
When water ran water ran with the strange attic
And when the walls were wet with your life

And you pushed yourself to the floor
And the spirit went where it went
Hovering discovering uncovering your life, on the floor

And the walls were wet with your love

For the mother is, the mother is the glorious victorious
The mother of the heart of the world

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

Djohariah, Djohariah...
Djohariah, Djohariah...
Djohariah, Djohariah...
Djohariah, Djohariah...

Don’t be ashamed, don’t cry in the bath
For it’s the story of, story of, morning glory story
It’s the gloriole that comes to your path

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!
For your world is yours, world is yours
All the wilderness of world is yours to enjoy

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! 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

3 comments:

  1. Sufjan one week, Iron & Wine the next — you have no idea how jealous I am!

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  2. I just saw Sufjan at the Orpheum in Boston on 11/11/10. He encourage the audience to drop acid and smoke weed if they'd like to. A long time ago, an aged apostle wrote "Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." I don't believe in sinless perfection and I know we're all fallen and often falling. But I'm not sure how I can embrace Sufjan's new art and remain faithful to the Lord.

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  3. I was at the Atlanta show as well. It was an awesome show. Seriously glad he played Casimir Pulaski Day, but I would've loved if he'd played Djohariah. It's quickly become a new favorite of mine.

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