Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sufjan Week Day 3: Chicago


Instead of acting like I missed a day and am now making up for it, just accept that the Day numbers are arbitrary and are likely to end without notice. That being said, and in hopes of hearing from our friends in Cleveland who already saw the show we will be seeing on Friday and Saturday, the Chicago coalition is back, and in this case it just means more from me as Jonny, Ryan, Adam, and Dan are slacking or do not like Sufjan (I know this is not true).

While the first two posts represented the hard work of textual analysis, today's post is less about the actual meaning of the song and more about sweet emotions. (I will post on Sweet Emotion during Aerosmith week) Who's up for emoting?

To start, let us nominate this as at least the temporary theme song of Midwest Mindset:
"we had our mindest: all things know, all things know"

Here's to reading myself totally into a song:

I fell in love again
all things go, all things go
drove to Chicago
all things know, all things know
we sold our clothes to the state
I don't mind, I don't mind
I made a lot of mistakes
in my mind, in my mind

This verse, for me, is about the romance I have with the city of Chicago. I remember just about every single visit I made to this city before I moved here. The first time...I had moved from Dallas area to Nowhere, OH and was desperately missing the city...it wasn't like we came to visit Chicago right away either. Anyway, as soon as we did, I heard this song in my head before this song existed. Anyone who has driven to Chicago from the East (which is probably everyone reading this) knows the joy that is seeing the skyline emerge as you get past the end of Gary and near the Skyway. Coming over that bridge and having the city, fronted by the Tower, head on is amazing. Then there's the drive up Lakeshore drive, the greatness of God on your right and the greatness of humanity on your left. Repeating this wonderful experience of driving into Chicago created a desire in me to live in this city that culminated in my move. For me, the last half of this stanza is about actually moving. Selling my clothes to the state was leaving most everything I knew behind for a new place in a new time but not caring a lick about it. But this itself was a mistake, as I left some things and some people behind....

you came to take us
all things go, all things go
to recreate us
all things grow, all things grow
we had our mindset
all things know, all things know
you had to find it
all things go, all things go

Alright so here, the stanza is about me and following Jesus of course. To start, I see God calling and pushing and leading me and everyone I know into places...actual places like cities, other countries, wherever. To be a follower of Jesus is to be on the go, for me this led to Chicago. Living here with who I'm around and studying and working, I have been recreated, growing throughout. Of course coming in and throughout I have, like always, assumed that I knew just about everything. But this very mindset is challenged and reformed itself as I continue to go, living here now but also knowing that this too will likely change...all things go...

I drove to New York
in the van, with my friend
we slept in parking lots
I don't mind, I don't mind
I was in love with the place
in my mind, in my mind
I made a lot of mistakes
in my mind, in my mind

Now the chronology has to shift as Sufjan decided to mention an experience Jonny and I had a few years ago. We were on a mission to 1. see NYC 2. see Jonny's brother 3. see Beth Waterman 4. see the Yankees. Now, this trip was formative for both of us, I think, in different ways. For Jonny, well, you'll have to beg him to reprint something he wrote about him and New York that he once had somewhere on the internet. But here's a brief statement that may not be correct. Jonny loved NYC in his mind from somewhere around the beginning of high school until the presentish, as in I'm not sure if he does or does not still love NYC. Anyway, I know that for him the trip was essential for life because without this trip he would have never known the city he loved. Whether or not this was a good thing, I cannot remember. I too was going with things I was in love with in my mind, however for me this was more about the people and the Yankees and driving long distances, all of which were forced into reform by the trip (still love the people but different of course, love Yankees more, don't love long drives anymore). I am being vague on purpose here because disclosure requires reflection which is often painful....

you came to take us
all things go, all things go
to recreate us
all things grow, all things grow
we had our mindset
all things know, all things know
you had to find it
all things go, all things go

if I was crying
in the van, with my friend
it was for freedom
from myself and from the land
I made a lot of mistakes
I made a lot of mistakes
I made a lot of mistakes
I made a lot of mistakes

See, and then you have this final verse, which, apparently, Sufjan included for the sake of explaining this very pain in reflection and disclosure....There was crying for me in moving to Chicago. There was freedom but there was the difficult in reconciling the city I loved in my mind and the city itself along with the mistakes that I brought with me and the ones I left behind. There was freedom but difficulty (I think) for Jonny in reconciling his love of NYC in his mind and in reality. There is freedom but difficulty for me in loving people (not the broad concept but actual people like Jonny, parents, Pete Smith, Beth Waterman, Paco, Tina Fox, Mike Nimtz) not as they are in my mind but as they are in reality....and I have made a lot of mistakes....

you came to take us
all things go, all things go
to recreate us
all things grow, all things grow
we had our mindset
all things know, all things know
you had to find it
all things go, all things go

I'm trying to get at how this song, but really all of life, for me is about the pursuit of God which is in the pursuit of loving, whether that is God, Stella (my cat), Lake Michigan, the color brown, or Tim Furry, is always on the go, constantly forcing me to reform my concepts of people in my mind and in reality...

3 Comments:

At 9/15/2005 10:11 AM, Blogger Dan Baker said...

I have to admit that do to certain financial hindrances (Seminary, mortgage, giving to hurricane relief out side of our 'budget') I have'nt been able to purchase any ofo Sufjan's albums, much to my dismay. This is the reason for my apperent slacking in participation of sufjan week. But as I REad through teh JAke posts I find myself coming closer to teh messages of Sufjan and more dismayed at my lack of ownership.
I can relate to teh love and pursuit of God in teh Midwest/Chicago area that you speak of JAke. THis is my home and teh setting for most of my spiritual development. In Vegas tehere was uch spiritual development, and pursuit of God. But it was definitly a wandering in the desert. Upon my return to the Midwest I could actually sense my soul being refreshed. I love the Midwest and even more so as Autumn is approaching....

 
At 9/20/2005 5:16 PM, Anonymous Ryan L. said...

I have good news and bad news. First the good news. Sufjan came to Denver at the end of July and of course it was amazing. I had no one here to enjoy it with because all of my friends here think that bands like Switchfoot rock. So I was representing the MW out here for Sufjan.
The bad news is, Erika was watching some countdown on MTV or VH1 (I don't know which), and they had a special little thing about Sufjan. Although he does deserve any amount of exposure he gets because he is entirely outstanding, this will probably lead to musically illiterate fans that will make life dumb for all of us.
On another note, I'm going to see the New Pornographers in 2 weeks and I can't wait. I'm sure many of you can share my joy. Then I'm going to Death Cab the following Saturday, followed by Thrice one week later, followed by Iron & Wine three days after that. Did I mention that I like living in Denver (but hate the lack of music buddies out here)?

 
At 10/03/2005 7:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the deal with Sufjan he's the knew "savior" of christians in music. right?

 

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