LISTEN: Sufjan Stevens Takes Us Back to “Chicago” on Just-Released Demo
It's the fourth version of the Illinois track Sufjan has released.
Sufjan Stevens’ magisterial 2005 album Illinois will be reissued on April 1. At the time of its release, Illinois was a stunning achievement, a richly researched and presented document of American life, history, and culture that was, appropriately enough, released on July 4 of that year. And while Sufjan abandoned his Fifty States project after the album’s release, it’s hard to feel as though we’ve been slighted; there’s still enough happening on that record (and its attendant b-sides collection The Avalanche) to keep you occupied on a cross-country trek.
Now, Stevens’ label Asthmatic Kitty has announced that the Illinois vinyl reissue will come with a bonus single of a demo version of the album’s centerpiece, “Chicago.” It’s actually the fourth version of the song Stevens has released: in addition to the original, there’s also The Avalanche‘s “Chicago (Acoustic Version)” and “Chicago (Adult Contemporary Easy Listening Version).” Incredibly, all four versions of the song are radically different from one another, which demonstrates the breadth of ideas Stevens was working with at the time. (Which isn’t to say that he’s exactly going stale these days.)
The demo version of “Chicago,” which you can stream below, will be pressed on red vinyl cut in the shape of the stars on the Chicago city flag. As Pitchfork notes, 2,000 of the records have the speed misprinted as 33 1/3 R.P.M., which means 2,000 people are about to find out whether Sufjan Stevens sounds as great dramatically slowed down as Dolly Parton.
The Illinois reissue is out April 1 on Asthmatic Kitty.