[listen] Sufjan Stevens – “Which One Are You”

A flowery, cheerful, serious demo.

- Jan 4, 2013

“Which one are you?/One of earth? One of God?” It's spiritual Sufjan Stevens all the way on his leaked demo “Which One Are You?” The track was written for 2010's multi-media installation The BQE, but wasn't included due to a legal dispute. Apparently it samples “The Endless Engima (Part 1)” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, a rock band from the '70s that apparently doesn't share Jimmy Page's appreciation for the art of a good sample.

With harps, ukes and that billowing voice, “Which One Are You” captures the sprawling majesty of fairy tales and the crushing melancholy of youth, with a sound that jumps from pop, rap, to folk and back again, casting alluring new veils over ancient advice. Doesn't “In time forgetfulness will carry us away” sound so much better than “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it,” especially with a buzzing hip-hop break beat and harps underneath? But like all good counsel, the song urges the listener to “Laugh if you want, if you can, if you could.” The artist who insisted he was writing an album for each American state then backed out knows the poisoning effect of taking any bettering endeavour too seriously.

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