© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

John Wayne Gacy, Jr.


by Sufjan Stevens


Like the song's subject matter, the music itself is just a little bit… well… creepy. This is a song about a serial killer, yet Sufjan Stevens' gentle, soothing voice is accompanied by a similarly calm guitar and piano melody. The song sounds precious, almost beautiful. There are points in the song in which the subject matter of the lyrics and the music seem to clash violently. How could a song about such a psychotic individual be so calm and soothing? But then again, paradoxically, the lyrics and the music seem to clash so much that they actually begin to work incredibly well together. It's almost haunting that a song about a serial killer can sound so beautiful – thereby taking the spooky factor up yet another notch.

The overall effect is quite moving. And as the song progresses, Sufjan's vocals begin to sound a little more raw and emotional. This is especially the case when the female backup vocals are added to the mix. The song concludes on an incredibly jarring note, as Sufjan advises us to look beneath his floorboards. After delivering this final line, the piano begins to slow its pace, and all you can hear is Stevens breathing slowly and intensely. It almost sounds as if writing a song about a serial killer has taken a toll on him. Or maybe a tremendous weight has been lifted as he reveals a very deep, dark secret to the world.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...