Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rock River Valley, Superman, Peoria and Drones/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Tracks Eleven to Fourteen

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:
Superman Comic Book
Man Of Steel, Who Will Steal Our Hearts
Hello and welcome back to our tour of Illinois via the album of the same name by Sufjan Stevens. The eleventh track of the album is called  To The Workers of The Rock River Valley Region, I have an idea concerning your predicament, and it involves an inner tube, bath mats, and 21 able-bodied men. A short instrumental piece, it has very little to further discuss. The song doesn't explain the predicament or make any sense in the solution. The best guess I can find from poking around online is that the region has been hit hard by declines in manufacturing and has a lot of poverty as a result. What the solution is being offered has to do with that, I couldn't tell you. This image from Wikipedia shows the region:
Rock River region map
Rock River Region

It is a peasant enough little scrap of music. Here is your YouTube clip and download link to follow:

Picking up some steam, we come upon one another pretty song: The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts. In a lot of ways it is a love song. There is a bit of a sense of loss at play on this song as on so much of the album. In my opinion, he is saying in his oblique way that heartbreak in his youth over failed summer romances and lost loves have made him a harder man, a man of steel. But he is still a man.  He still has needs and he wants love despite the chance of pain. Here are the lyrics:

Trouble falls in my home
Troubled man, troubled stone
Turn a mountain of lies
Turn a card for my life
Man of Steel, Man of Heart
Tame our ways, if we start
To devise something more
Something halfways

Only a steel man came to recover
If he had run from gold, carry over
We celebrate our sense of each other
We have a lot to give one another

I took a bus to the lake
Saw the monument face
Yellow tides, golden eyes
Red and white, red and wise
Raise the flag, summer home
Parted hair, part unknown
If I knew what I read
I'll send it half ways

Only a real man can be a lover
If he had hands to lend us all over
We celebrate our sense of each other
We have a lot to give one another

Took my bags, Illinois
Dreamt the lake took my boy
Man of Steel, Man of Heart
Turn your ear to my part
There are things you have said
Raise the boat, and raise the dead
If you take us away
Still can we say:

Only a steel man can be a lover
If he had hands to tremble all over
We celebrate our sense of each other
We have a lot to give one another
My research on fan sites is that some fans find this song to be a song about Jesus. I think that is a stretch and not worth further analysis by me, but I felt it was worth mentioning in the interests of completeness.Here is an appearance by Sufjan Stevens on the always wonderful KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. Your easy Amazon download link follows.

Moving on we arrive at the track Prairie Fire That Wanders About. This is a call out to Peoria Illinois. Like a few of the other tracks that were call outs on this album, this song is mostly a list of local references to Peoria. Of course, he HAD to acknowledge the phrase "will in play in Peoria". Honestly though, I have no idea What Stevens is talking about at the beginning of the song. Maybe as you read the lyrics it will make some sense to you:

Peoria! Destroyia!
Infinity! Divinity!

For Lydia! Octavia!
And Jack-of-Trades!
The Cubs! Hooray!

The Opera House
Where Emma sang!
America! Oh will it play?

And Santa Clause!
The Great Parade!
You have it made!

Into the crossfire
Faithfully run
Middle America
One on one
We saddle the fun times


We close out this week with what is really just an outro to Prairie Fire That Wanders About. Sufjan Stevens does give it its own title: A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the Way in Which Sufjan Stevens Has an Existential Crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze. Truth in advertising here. It is a collection of droning sounds. As far as the Great Godfrey Maze, that is apparently a large corn maze that happens in the town of Godfrey in Southern Illinois near St. Louis. It must have blown Sufjan Stevens mind. With no lyrics to post we take you straight to video and the download

Well, that about does it for this week. As always I thank you for riding along on this voyage into Sufjan Stevens Illinois. Soon we will wrap this up and start looking at the city the highway starts in Chicago, That should be a rich treasure trove of musical lore so stay with us, Join us tomorrow as we continue our alternate trip and return to Tijuana Mexico for some Mexican Electronica and Hip Hop. Until then...Happy Trails!

Mileage Stats
Route 66: 0 Miles/1 State/549 Tracks/98 Videos/24 Posts
Highway 101: 13 Miles/1 State/459 Tracks/156 Videos/17 Posts
Interstate 95: 77 Miles/1 State/11 Tracks/40 Videos/6 Posts

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