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John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

by Sufjan Stevens

Calling Card

Sufjan Stevens' calling card has got to be his "50 albums for 50 states project." He has publicized his intention to write an album about each of the 50 states in the United States. While this may sound a bit gimmicky, the project has attracted a lot of buzz and attention. Most people probably think it sounds a little bit crazy, and indeed it is. Sufjan is now 34 years old, which means that in order to complete all 50 albums, he would have to come out with an album a year from now until the time he turns 82. And considering that he has not written any state albums since Illinois was released in 2005, time seems to be very much not on his side. Most likely Sufjan's stated intentions are a little disingenuous.

Either way, Sufjan's decision to write albums that look at the American experience through the lens of individual states has allowed him to create interesting music about subject matter that not many artists would tackle (this song being a prime example). This has also allowed Sufjan to showcase his abilities as a storyteller. Stevens has explained that the 50 states plan has acted as "a means of inspiration, by allowing me to focus on a particular subject. It's sort of like creating obstructions, giving myself certain terms within which to work." This approach has certainly been effective, allowing Sufjan to write songs that combine historical facts with other more personal elements.
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