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Asthmatic Kitty Records

Illinois

by Sufjan Stevens

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1.
When the revenant came down, we couldn’t imagine what it was In the spirit of three stars the alien thing that took its form Then to Lebanon, oh God The flashing at night, the sirens grow and grow Oh, history involved itself Mysterious shade that took its form Or what it was, incarnation, three stars Delivering signs and dusting from their eyes
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Oh, great intentions I’ve got the best of interventions But when the ads come I think about it now In my infliction Entrepreneurial condition Take us to glory I think about it now Cannot conversations cull united nations? If you’ve got the patience, celebrate the ancients Cannot all creation call it celebration? Or united nation, put it to your head Oh, great white city I’ve got the adequate committee Where have your walls gone? I think about it now Chicago, in fashion The soft drinks, expansion Oh, Columbia From Paris, incentive Like Cream of Wheat invented The Ferris wheel Oh, great intentions Covenant with the imitation Have you no conscience? I think about it now Oh, God of Progress Have you degraded or forgot us? Where have your laws gone? I think about it now Ancient hieroglyphic or the South Pacific Typically terrific, busy and prolific Classical devotion, architect promotion Lacking in emotion, think about it now Chicago, the New Age But what would Frank Lloyd Wright say? Oh, Columbia Amusement or treasure These optimistic pleasures Like the Ferris wheel Cannot conversations cull united nations? If you’ve got the patience, celebrate the ancients Columbia I cried myself to sleep last night And the ghost of Carl He approached my window I was hypnotized I was asked to improvise On the attitude, the regret Of a thousand centuries of death Even with the heart of terror and the superstitious wearer I am riding all alone, I am writing all alone Even in my best condition, counting all the superstition I am riding all alone, I am running all alone And we laughed at the beatitudes of a thousand lines We were asked at the attitudes, they reminded us of death Even with the rest belated, everything is antiquated Are you writing from the heart, are you writing from the heart? Even in his heart, the Devil has to know the water level Are you writing from the heart, are you writing from the heart? And I cried myself to sleep last night For the Earth, and materials, they may sound just right to me Even with the rest belated, everything is antiquated Are you writing from the heart, are you writing from the heart? Even in his heart, the Devil has to know the water level Are you writing from the heart, are you writing from the heart?
4.
His father was a drinker And his mother cried in bed Folding John Wayne’s T-shirts When the swingset hit his head The neighbors they adored him For his humor and his conversation Look underneath the house there Find the few living things Rotting fast in their sleep of the dead Twenty-seven people, even more They were boys with their cars, summer jobs Oh my God Are you one of them? He dressed up like a clown for them With his face paint white and red And on his best behavior In a dark room on the bed he kissed them all He’d kill ten thousand people With a sleight of his hand Running far, running fast to the dead He took off all their clothes for them He put a cloth on their lips Quiet hands, quiet kiss On the mouth And in my best behavior I am really just like him Look beneath the floorboards For the secrets I have hid
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Jacksonville (free) 05:24
I’m not afraid of the black man running He’s got it right, he’s got a better life comin’ And I don’t care what the Captain said I fold it right at the top of my head I lost my sight and the state packs in I follow my heart and it leads me right to Jackson (Oh Keller, oh oh oh oh) She gave us a medal she gave us a map (Oh Canner Row, oh oh oh) If seeing is right, then look where you’re at I’m not afraid of Nichol’s Park I ride the train and I ride it after dark And I’m not afraid to get it right I turn around and I give it one more try And I said things that I meant to say The bandstand chairs and the Dewey Day Parade I go out to the Golden Age The spirit is right and the spirit doesn’t change (Oh Keller, oh oh oh oh) She gave us a mirror, she gave us a map (Oh Canner Row, oh oh oh) If seeing is right, then look where you’re at Andrew Jackson! All I’m asking Show us the wheel, and give us the wine Raise the Banner, Jackson Hammer! Everyone goes to the capitol line Colored Preacher, nice to meet you! The spirit is here, and the spirit is fine Education! Ask the nation! You gave us our sight and the hearing is fine Andrew Jackson! All I’m asking Give us the wheel, and give us the wine
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Our stepmom, we did everything to hate her She took us down to the edge of Decatur We saw the lion and the kangaroo take her Down to the river where they caught a wild alligator Sangamon River, it overflowed It caused a mudslide on the banks of the operator Civil War skeletons in their graves They came up clapping in the spirit of the aviator The sound of the engines and the smell of the grain We go riding on the abolition grain train Stephen A. Douglas was a great debater But Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator Chickenmobile with your rooster tail I had my fill, and I know how bad it feels Stay awake and watch for the data No small caterpillar, go congratulate her Denominator, go Decatur, go Decatur It’s the great I Am Abominate her, go Decatur, why did we hate her? It’s the great I Am Denominator, go Decatur, anticipate her It’s the great I Am Appreciate her, appreciate her Stand up and thank her
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Chicago 06:04
I fell in love again All things go, all things go Drove to Chicago All things know, all things know We sold our clothes to the state I don’t mind, I don’t mind I made a lot of mistakes In my mind, in my mind You came to take us All things go, all things go To recreate us All things grow, all things grow We had our mind set All things know, all things know You had to find it All things go, all things go I drove to New York In a van with my friend We slept in parking lots I don’t mind, I don’t mind I was in love with the place In my mind, in my mind I made a lot of mistakes In my mind, in my mind You came to take us All things go, all things go To recreate us All things grow, all things grow We had our mind set All things know, all things know You had to find it All things go, all things go If I was crying In the van with my friend It was for freedom From myself and from the land I made a lot of mistakes I made a lot of mistakes I made a lot of mistakes I made a lot of mistakes You came to take us All things go, all things go To recreate us All things grow, all things grow We had our mind set All things know, all things know You had to find it All things go, all things go
10.
Goldenrod and the 4-H stone The things I brought you When I found out you had cancer of the bone Your father cried on the telephone And he drove his car to the navy yard Just to prove that he was sorry In the morning through the window shade When the light pressed up against your shoulder blade I could see what you were reading Oh, the glory that the Lord has made And the complications you could do without When I kissed you on the mouth Tuesday night at the Bible study We lift our hands and pray over your body But nothing ever happens I remember at Michael’s house In the living room when you kissed my neck And I almost touched your blouse In the morning at the top of the stairs When your father found out what we did that night And you told me you were scared Oh, the glory when you ran outside With your shirt tucked in and your shoes untied And you told me not to follow you Sunday night when I cleaned the house I find the card where you wrote it out With the pictures of your mother On the floor at the great divide With my shirt tucked in and my shoes untied I am crying in the bathroom In the morning when you finally go And the nurse runs in with her head hung low And the cardinal hits the window In the morning in the winter shade On the first of March on the holiday I thought I saw you breathing Oh, the glory that the Lord has made And the complications when I see his face In the morning in the window Oh, the glory when he took our place But he took my shoulders and he shook my face And he takes and he takes and he takes
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Trouble falls in my home Troubled man, troubled stone Turn a mountain of lies Turn a card for my life Man of steel, man of heart Tame our ways, if we start To devise something more Something halfways Only a steel man came to recover If he had run from gold, carry over We celebrate our sense of each other We have a lot to give one another I took a bus to the lake Saw the monument face Yellow tides, golden eyes Red and white, red and wise Raise the flag, summer home Parted hair and part unknown If I knew what I read I’ll send it halfways Only a real man can be a lover If he had hands to lend us all over We celebrate our sense on each other We have a lot to give one another Took my bags, Illinois Dreamt the lake took my boy Man of steel, man of heart Turn your ear to my part There are things you have said Raise the boat and raise the dead If you take us away Still can we say Only a steel man can be a lover If he had hands to tremble all over We celebrate our sense of each other We have a lot to give one another Only a steel man can be a lover If he had hands to tremble all over We celebrate our sense of each other We have a lot to give one another
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Peoria! Destroy-a! Infinity! Divinity! For Lydia Octavia! And Jack-of-Trades! The Cubs hooray! The Opera House Where Emma sang! America! Oh will it play? And Santa Claus! The Great Parade! Peoria! You have it made! Into the crossfire Faithfully run Middle America, One on one Peoria! We saddle the fun times
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Thinking outrageously I write in cursive I hide in my bed with the lights on the floor Wearing three layers of coats and leg warmers I see my own breath on the face of the door Oh I am not quite sleeping Oh I am fast in bed There on the wall in the bedroom creeping I see a wasp with her wings outstretched North of Savanna we swim in the palisades I come out wearing my brother’s red hat There on his shoulder my best friend is bit seven times He runs washing his face in his hands Oh how I meant to tease him Oh how I meant no harm Touching his back with my hand I kiss him I see the wasp on the length of my arm Oh great sights upon this state. Hallelujah! Wonders bright, and rivers, lake. Hallelujah! Trail of Tears and Horseshoe Lake. Hallelujah! Trusting things beyond mistake. Hallelujah! We were in love. We were in love. Palisades! Palisades! I can wait. I can wait. Lamb of God, we sound the horn. Hallelujah! To us your ghost is born. Hallelujah! I can’t explain the state that I’m in The state of my heart, he was my best friend Into the car, from the back seat Oh admiration in falling asleep All of my powers, day after day I can tell you, we swaggered and swayed Deep in the tower, the prairies below I can tell you, the telling gets old (Oh great sights upon this state. Hallelujah!) Terrible sting and terrible storm I can tell you the day we were born (Wonders bright, and rivers, lake. Hallelujah!) My friend is gone, he ran away I can tell you, I love him each day (Trail of Tears and Horseshoe Lake. Hallelujah!) Though we have sparred, wrestled and raged I can tell you I love him each day (Trusting things beyond mistake. Hallelujah!) Terrible sting, terrible storm I can tell you...
16.
I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Ring the bell and call or write us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Can you call the Captain Clitus? (Who will save it?) Logan, Grant, and Ronald Reagan (Dedicate it?) In the grave with Xylophagan (Who will praise it?) Do you know the ghost community? (Commemorate it for you?) Sound the horn, address the city We are awakened with the axe Night of the living dead at last They have begun to shake the dirt Wiping their shoulders from the earth I know, I know the nations past I know, I know they rust at last They tremble with the nervous thought Of having been, at last, forgot I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Ring the bell and call or write us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Can you call the Captain Clitus? (Who will save it?) B-U-D-A! Caledonia (Dedicate it?) S-E-C-O-R! Magnolia (Who will praise it?) B-I-R-D-S! And Kankakee (Commemorate it for you?) Evansville and Parker City Speaking their names, they shake the flag Waking the earth, it lifts and lags We see a thousand rooms to rest Helping us taste the bite of death I know, I know my time is passed I’m not so young, I’m not so fast I tremble with the nervous thought Of having been, at last, forgot I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Ring the bell and call or write us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Can you call the Captain Clitus? Comer and Potato Peelers G-R-E-E-N Ridge! Reeders M-C-V-E-Y! And Horace E-N-O-S! Start the chorus Corn and farms and tombs in Lemmon Sailor Springs and all things feminine Centerville and Old Metropolis Shawneetown, you trade and topple us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Hold your tongue and don’t divide us I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S! Land of God, you hold and guide us
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In the tower above the earth There is a view that reaches far Where we see the universe I see the fire, I see the end Seven miles above the earth There is Emmanuel of mothers With his sword, with his robe He comes dividing man from brothers In the tower above the earth, we built it for Emmanuel In the powers of the earth, we wait until it rips and rips In the tower above the earth, we built it for Emmanuel Oh my mother, she betrayed us but my father loved and bathed us Still I go to the deepest grave Where I go to sleep alone
20.
I count the days the Great Frontier Forgiving, faced the seventh year I stand in awe of gratefulness I can and call forgetfulness And when I, and when I call The Patient, the Patient fall The Spirit, the Carpenter Invites us to be with her What have we become America? Soldiers on the Great Frontier Carpenter and soldier, one on one It’s the battle, volunteer The prairie, the frontier, the perfect farm, it’s from here (Run from yourself, from your friends) The fortress, the faker, the cornerstone, the baker (Run for your life, for your friends) The dancer, the fisher, audition and the disher (America) The boxer, the fetcher, the chewing gum, dream catcher (Oh, Illinois) I count the days the Great Frontier Forgiving, faced the seventh year I stand and strain to make ends meet Five Spirits on the Grand Marquee And when I, and when I call The Patient, the Patient fall The Spirit, the Carpenter Invites us to be with her There was a man at the wall He was grateful for us all I saw the wise woman sing She wasn’t asking anything She wasn’t asking anything How she made the nations sing! What have we become America? Soldiers on the Great Frontier The mattress, the floozies, the actress at the movies (Run from yourself, from your friends) The lantern, the lotion, the wind that wakes the ocean (Run for your life, for your friends) The Standard Edition, the architect’s rendition (America) The fashion, the fevers, the house we got at Sears (Oh, Illinois) Oh Great Fire of Great Disaster Oh Great Heaven, oh Great Master Oh Great Goat, the curse you gave us Oh Great Ghost, protect and save us Oh Great River, green with envy Oh Jane Addams, spirit send thee Oh Great Trumpet and the singers (Given what you lost are you better off) Oh Great Goodman, King of Swingers (Given what you had, has it made you mad) Oh Great Bears and Bulls, Joe Jackson (Celebrate the few, celebrate the new) Oh Great Illinois (It can only start with you)
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about

Like the self-proclaimed "Spiderman" who climbed Chicago's Sears Tower with no harness, Sufjan Stevens scales dusty prairies, steel factories, and two hundred years of history in the second installment of his 50 State Project, "ILLINOIS", a 22-track anthematic tone poem to The Prairie State.

An engrossing musical road trip, "Illinois" takes you through ghost towns, grain mills, hospital rooms, and the City of Broad Shoulders, with guest appearances by a poet, a president, a serial murderer, UFOs, Superman, the goat that cursed the Cubs, and Decatur's famous Chickenmobile. Sufjan weaves variegated musical styles (jazz, funk, pop, folk, and Rodgers and Hammerstein-like flourishes) and the textures of 25 instruments into a tapestry of persons and places famous, infamous, iconic and anonymous. Invoking the muse of poet Carl Sandburg, "Illinois" ushers in trumpets on parade, string quartets, female choruses and ambient piano scales arranged around Stevens' emerging falsetto.

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released July 5, 2005

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Sufjan Stevens New York, New York

Sufjan Stevens is a singer-songwriter living in New York City.

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