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Come On Feel the Illinoise

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Audio CD, July 5, 2005
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Sufjan Stevens mixes autobiography, religious fantasy, and regional history to create folk songs of grand proportions. A preoccupation with epic concepts has motivated two state records (Michigan & Illinois), an electronic album for the animals of the Chinese zodiac (Enjoy Your Rabbit), a five-disc Christmas box set (Songs for Christmas), and, more recently, a programmatic tone poem with ... Read more in Amazon's Sufjan Stevens Store

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Come On Feel the Illinoise + MICHIGAN [Vinyl] + Seven Swans
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 5, 2005)
  • Original Release Date: 2005
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Asthmatic Kitty
  • ASIN: B0009R1T7M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (326 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,155 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
2. The Black Hawk War, Or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization And Still Feel Good About Yourself In The Morning, Or, We Apologize For The Inconvenience But You're Gonna Have To Leave Now, Or, 'I Have Fought The Big Knives And Will Continue To Fight...
3. Come On! Feel The Illinoise!: Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition/Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream
4. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
5. Jacksonville
6. A Short Reprise For Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But For Very Good Reasons
7. Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!
8. One Last 'Whoo-Hoo!' For The Pullman
9. Chicago
10. Casimir Pulaski Day
11. To The Workers Of The Rock River Valley Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament
12. The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
13. Prairie Fire That Wanders About
14. A Conjunction Of Drones Simulating The Way In Which Sufjan Stevens Has An Existential Crisis In The Great Godfrey Maze
15. The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!
16. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!
17. Let's Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don't Think They Heard It All The Way Out In Bushnell
18. In This Temple As In The Hearts Of Man For Whom He Saved The Earth
19. The Seer's Tower
20. The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders: Part I: The Great Frontier/Part II: Come To Me Only With Playthings Now
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Illinois sounds like The Sea and Cake collaborating with the high-school band from a Wes Anderson film on banjo-driven, pulsing meditations on Vince Guaraldi's music for Peanuts. Sufjan Stevens, the singer-songwriter behind the endeavor, is an earnest and whimsical young man who aims to record an album based on every state in the union, though this is just his second attempt since 2003's Michigan. Lavish praise has been heaped upon this precocious twenty-something, who weaves personal recollections, historical narratives, and strange facts together to create lush portraits of Midwestern life. It's not maudlin stuff, and the atypical instrumentation (strings, choirs, trumpets, vibes) is beyond gimmick. Halfway through "John Wayne Gacy, Jr.," when Stevens has you feeling true empathy for a serial killer, it's clear that he really is an artist of the highest order. These are weird and lovely middlebrow ditties; we eagerly await the Broadway adaptation. --Mike McGonigal

Customer Reviews

The first time I listened to this album, I was baffled.
Paul J. Kulpa
I could continue, but really I just want people to hear this album all the way through, carefully.
B. P. Price
Sufjan Stevens is one of the most treasured musical story tellers of our time.
Kori's Husband

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

488 of 514 people found the following review helpful By B. P. Price on July 14, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Sufjan Stevens is a puzzling character; sometimes naive, sometimes sophisticated, somewhat rustic and yet essentially urban in outlook. But there a few things he never seems to exhibit: crassness, boredom, or jaded irony. Instead he appears defenseless and in full flower on "Illinois", an album of remarkable breadth, depth and ambition.

It is precisely his lack of sneering superiority that makes "Illinois" such a treat. These lengthy, wordy poem/songs, these complex instrumental arrangements and daunting pop structures could all be so much ego run amok, like a bad progressive rock album. But that doesn't happen. Instead, we are treated to a song cycle so fresh and honest I hardly know where to start.

From the sweet quietness of the opening number (which turns an actual UFO sighting in 2000 into a revelatory experience) to the nearly presumptuous overture that follows, one gets a glimpse of what will follow. Imagery follows tone follows place follows events both personal and public in a seamless fabric. By the time we are through the title cut on track 3, he has already taken us through a small American symphony of ideas. We have wondered about God and aliens, considered the great icons of the state of Illinois, met with the ghost of Carl Sandburg and wondered if we are being honest with our art in the first place; surely one of the most breathtaking 11 minutes I can recall on CD.

The mood is quietly shattered with "John Wayne Gacy Jr.", probably the most haunted song in recent memory. If this one doesn't make you choke a little, check your pulse. By portraying a serial killer as human after all, he draws our attention to the flaws in every heart. He understands that demons have no souls, but people - even mass murderers - do. Watch out.
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196 of 209 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Brennan VINE VOICE on August 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Is Sufjan Stevens insane?

"Illinois" is only the second stop on a planned collection of 50 state-themed albums. It's the type of project whose sheer scale and mad ambition boggle the mind, calling forth a number of rhetorical questions: Is he really going to spend the bulk of his career on such a huge project? Given the fact that "Michigan" came out two years ago, shouldn't he pick up the pace a bit? Will he really make a separate album for, say, North and South Dakota?

I hope so.

Illinois is a great album, almost certainly the best of the year so far. It opens with a delicate and beautiful piano track entitled "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois." From there, Stevens criss-crosses the state, heading to Jacksonville, Decatur and Chicago, creating a musical travelogue as thorough as any Rand McNally guidebook.

Importantly, Stevens doesn't spend all his time going from point A to point B; he also stops to get to know people, writing about everyone from John Wayne Gacy to Superman to Abraham Lincoln to Carl Sandburg. Some of the references amount to little more than name-dropping, but the beautiful Superman song and the haunting Gacy track show that, most of the time, Stevens is really trying to understand how a place could be embodied by such disparate characters.

Thematically, too, he covers a lot of ground. "Oh, God of progress, have you degraded or forgot us? Where have your walls gone? I think about it now," he asks in what is probably the only song that will ever be written about the Columbian Exposition of 1893. For good measure, he throws in a little religious imagery later in the album; though his observations here feel a little self-centered and angry, you have to give him credit for honesty and candor.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By M. Nelson on November 26, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I'll admit it, I'm a corporate tool. I bought this album for the sole reason that Amazon named it the top album of 2005. I've been aching to find something new and interesting (my Flogging Molly and Phillip Glass albums were getting worn out). Since I hadn't seen anyone named Sufjan on American Idol, and the album wasn't getting shoved down the throats of us consumers I thought that Amazon may be trying to make a statement for the betterment of music.

Thank Goodness!!

I played it first when leaving town for a 20 hour Thankgiving round trip, I didn't know that it would be the only thing played on the radio the whole trip. While previous review rant about the first couple of tracks, I think they bouced over the truely great tracks. I found "The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!" as a beautifully contradiction on itself. I told a friend about htis track, and he was shocked I used terms like innocent & lovely on something named after a bug. I love the way "The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" transitions between tempos. But my favorite track is by far "Cashmir Pulaski Day". When I fully understood what Cashmir Pulasky Day was about, I was bought to tears.

Most of the time, music shoved at us doesn't deserve our well earned money. This album is worth a listen. This artist deserves our support. This 50 state concept is a pipedream, but I am glad there are still dreamers in the music industry and if this is the result of dreams then I will keep buying.
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Topic From this Discussion
Is he really Cat stevens son
Nov 18, 2006 by Humbert Humbert |  See all 3 posts
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