Paragraphs du jour: Sufjan Stevens on “Carrie & Lowell”

Composer-performer Sufjan Stevens, interviewed by Pitchfork‘s Ryan Dombal on Stevens’s autobiographical new album “Carrie & Lowell”:

Pitchfork: A lot of people make the kind of folky music that’s on this record, but so little of it actually feels meaningful; with music this spare, emotional extremity can seem like a requirement.

SS: Yeah. Like: Don’t listen to this record if you can’t digest the reality of it. I’m being explicit about really horrifying experiences in my life, but my hope has always been to be responsible as an artist and to avoid indulging in my misery, or to come off as an exhibitionist. I don’t want to make the listener complicit in my vulnerable prose poem of depression, I just want to honor the experience. I’m not the victim here, and I’m not seeking other peoples’ sympathy. I don’t blame my parents, they did the best they could.

At worst, these songs probably seem really indulgent. At their best, they should act as a testament to an experience that’s universal: Everyone suffers; life is pain; and death is the final punctuation at the end of that sentence, so deal with it. I really think you can manage pain and suffering by living in fullness and being true to yourself and all those seemingly vapid platitudes.

Read the whole interview here, and check back soon for a review of “Carrie & Lowell,” which is being released today.

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