Sufjan Stevens — Losing Faith…

November 7, 2009

“That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what is known as The Artist’s Reward.” — Ernest Hemingway

It used to be so easy to think of Sufjan Stevens as happy guy. He made great music, he sang like an angel, he loved Jesus. But a recent interview with Sufjan has shown us that Sufjan’s life is not so simple. The interview seems to show that Sufjan has lost faith in music, or at least, publicized and distributed music. He points out how the industry has changed, and how the album no longer holds up. Because of this, he feels that his concepts can never be fully realized. He goes as far as to say, “What is the point? What’s the point of making music anymore?” He then finds fault in himself, explaining that, “I’m starting to get sick of my conceptual ideas. I’m tired of these grand, epic endeavors…”

So has Sufjan maintained his faith in God as he has lost his faith in music? I know that many musicians have tried to find happiness through either medium and often switch between the two. Most notable Bob Dylan, who became a Born Again Christian during the 80’s after growing up Jewish.

I also find the comparison between Sufjan and Jeff Mangum interesting. Mangum had similar struggles with religion, and also, had the experience of creating a work of art that is considered a masterpiece. For Sufjan, Illinois is the work of a life time, much like Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. These albums are culminations of these artist’s lives. Conceptualized by one creator. Soon after the release of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, Mangum announced that Neutral Milk Hotel would not release anymore albums.

“I guess I had this idea that if we all created our dream we could live happily ever after. So when so many of our dreams had come true and yet I still saw that so many of my friends were in a lot of pain … I saw their pain from a different perspective and realized that I can’t just sing my way out of all this suffering.”

-Jeff Mangum


7 Responses to “Sufjan Stevens — Losing Faith…”

  1. Tawaine said

    That’s quite interesting and equally disppointing. A similar thing, I read in Paste Magazine recently, happened with the singer of Pedro The Lion. His name escapes me right now but i’m sure you can look up the article on the Paste website. That is certainly somethin else. I do hope Sufjan keeps it up in some fashion. I quite enjoy his music.

    • I think Pedro the Lion is David Bazan. Good Call. He had a similar struggle with faith and music and disappointment. And I agree. I would love one more great album. I hope he has it in him.

  2. Pete said

    it seems a little strange to me that stevens would have such a problem with the fact that most people don’t think of music in terms of albums anymore. i would say that the “singles” mentality mostly occurs in popular music, but Stevens i think of as a more independent artist that doesn’t really seek break into the mainstream. I feel like most of his core listeners are the type of people that do still listen to an album all the way through.

  3. Jimmy Arcade said

    I would like to think that Sufjan’s revival of songs from his Seven Swans album, as evidenced by his recent live shows, may be some indication that He continues to explore His relationship with Jesus. For instance, when he played the ATP Festival in New York, he played the entire Seven Swans album, from start to finish. That was a pretty bold move, considering most of the people at the show were likely anticipating songs from the Illinois and Michigan albums. I wonder if his current “existential crisis” may be related to a desire to centralize Jesus in the expression of his artistry…

    When my wife and I saw him live a few weeks ago, he seemed very humble and very free, as if he didn’t care what people thought of his music or performance, but still wanted to share his performance with those who cared to experience it. From what I’ve recently observed, he appears to be moving in a healthy direction.

  4. Mr. Blicero said

    Sufjan loses faith; Michelle Branch sticks to her country roots. What a wonderful world we live in.

  5. BoopBoop said

    Nope, he lost his faith in “jesus,” which is why his music is so good now. He is also being more upfront about his bisexuality, which of course, we all know, the idiotic and hypocritical Christian religion frowns upon. So…GO SUFJAN! you’re free now! Good for you, own your sexuality and dont take prejudice from the christain community anymore! ❤

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