- 14 Mar 19
“I wish, I wish I was born a man," Martha Wainwright sang in 'Bloody Motherfuckin’ Asshole'. So she could be one, like a lot of men, was the humorous implication, amid the darkness of a song about women's vulnerability. Well, we know more about the precise nature of that vulnerability now. And maybe those assholes too. So how do we react to the recent allegations about Ryan Adams? Listening to the music some of those vulnerable women might just be a good start.
I think I owe Sufjan Stevens an apology. Around 2002, not long after he produced his magnificent breakthrough album Michigan, he declared he was going to release a record for every state in the Union. Yeah, you got it, fifty in all. It was audacious, but audacity was already the calling card of his art. Following his opus to his home state, he dropped Come on! Feel the Illinoise!, and it dawned on me that he was serious about his fifty states project.
So, I told a lot of people about it. Anybody who'd listen at college house-parties, and on road trips, and sitting atop the high stool on wet winter Saturdays. Some people bore you with what books they’ve read, others with how Manchester United are doing. Well, around 2006, I was telling anybody who’d listen that the Christian alt-rocker Sufjan Stevens was writing an album for every state in America. It was my “have you read The Slap?” moment. Looking back, I wasn’t half as much craic as I thought.
Time passed. A friend - maybe the only one who ever listened to my dirge – sent me an interview with Stevens, in which he declared the ‘50 States Project’ a ruse, nothing but a “promotional tool”. Sufjan Stevens – you bloody motherfuckin' asshole! I continued to love his music but resented him the way Italians resented Roberto Baggio for missing the penalty in the World Cup final in 1994. There was love there, but it was suddenly very conditional. He would forever have an asterisk beside his name. I stopped speaking about him to my friends.