Saturday, November 16, 2013

Decatur, or Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!" and Track Eight "One Last 'Whoo-Hoo!' for the Pullman/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track Seven


Part of A Series: Route 66: Sufjan Stevens: Illinois

To View the whole series as one LONG post CLICK HERE



Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track One:
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 Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track TwoCome On! Feel the Illinoise! (Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition – Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream)/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track ThreeJohn Wayne Gacy, Jr./Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track FourJacksonville/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track FiveA Short Reprise for Mary Todd, Who Went Insane But for Very Good Reasons/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track Six

Casimir Pulaski Day/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track TenRock River Valley, Superman, Peoria and Drones/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Tracks Eleven to FourteenWasps and Zombies/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Tracks Fifteen to EighteenCelebrate The Few, Celebrate The New. It Can Only Start With You/Sufjan Stevens Illinois Tracks Nineteen to Twenty Two 
    The Chickenmobile
    The Chickenmobile
    source Flickr
    As someone who spent most of my childhood in 1970's, I was one of the lucky few who did not have parents divorce. So when I listen to "Decatur, or Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!", from the Sufjan Stevens Illinois album, I can't really appreciate the emotions behind the song. When coupled with having never been to Decatur, Illinois there is not much in the song lyrics to grip me tightly. It does make reference to the Lincoln Douglas debates. Which is a subject I find interesting that  occurred near Decatur, but the rest of the song I am just too far removed from to relate to. Here are the lyrics from SongMeanings.Com:

    Our stepmom, we did everything to hate her
    She took us down to the edge of Decatur
    We saw the lion and the kangaroo take her
    Down to the river where they caught a wild alligator

    Sangamon River, it overflowed
    It caused a mudslide on the banks of the operator
    Civil War skeletons in their graves
    They came up clapping in the spirit of the aviator

    The sound of the engines and the smell of the grain
    We go riding on the abolition grain train
    Steven A. Douglas was a great debater
    But Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator

    Chickenmobile with your rooster tail
    I had my fill and I know how bad it feels
    Stay awake and watch for the data
    No small caterpillar, go congratulate her

    Denominator, go Decatur, go Decatur
    It's the great I Am
    Abominate her, go Decatur, why did we hate her?
    It's the great I Am

    Denominator, go Decatur, anticipate her
    It's the great I Am
    Appreciate her, appreciate her
    Stand up and thank her

    Stand up and thank her
    It's the great I Am
    Stand up and thank her
    It's the great I Am
    Stand up and thank her
    It's the great I Am
    Stand up and thank her 

    This song is bit like the earlier song on the album, Jacksonville. It name drops a lot of local color and history. Some of the local color referenced is the chickenmobile, a car decorated to look like a chicken that graces the front of local eatery. He mentions the Caterpillar tractor factory which is located there, the railroads, the river, floods, the Civil War graveyards and the rich history of Lincoln in Illinois.

    In the song, the narrator weaves in a yet another story of unattained dreams. Ah...but here's the twist-they were negative dreams. Dreams of hating a step mother and a new place. The lack of attaining those dreams has made the narrator who he is today. A better person than he might otherwise be. His realizes this and is expressing his gratitude via the song. Fairly clever stuff and a catchy melody. The song has a playful rollicking feel that the sing-song lyrics compliment well. This fan clip takes you around Decatur and shows you some of the spots mentioned in the song.



    Here is a link to download the track:



    Picking up speed we move through another track. At 11 seconds long "One Last 'Whoo-Hoo!' for the Pullman"  is just sort of a silly, name-dropping joke. The Pullman railway cars were designed and built just south of Chicago. And of course railroad cars go Whoo-Hoo. The title and this explanation take longer than the song which you can hear here:



    You can purchase the track here:


    Tomorrow we return to the southern tip of Highway 101, before we explore more of Illinois next week. Stay with us won't you?

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