Here’s the thing . . . Sufjan is incredible. Whether or not you like his music, one has to acknowledge the astounding amount of talent the guy has. To me, he is the musical equivalent to the literary Tolkien. What I mean is this: somewhere in the deep recesses of their brains, the creative impetus for all those ideas already existed. For Tolkien it was a myriad of languages, races and lands–each with their own histories and storylines. For Stevens, it’s his complex musical compositions alternately cloaked in folk, electronica, and baroque hues. At the risk of overstating it, he is one of God’s musical gifts to humanity in our present day. One of my favorite tracks, both musically and lyrically, is Jacksonville, taken from the Illinois album. I’ve included a link to the studio version, but also a live version I recently discovered from Austin City Limits.