Sufjan Stevens and Resurrecting Small Town America
I discovered Sufjan Stevens' Illinois during a period in my life when my hometown was too small, an ill-fitting sweater. It was also a period in which I felt compelled to pin down the meaning of everything, so I spent a lot of time on songmeanings.com. I learned a lot about the album, like how Sufjan scoured historical records while also compiling personal anecdotes from friends and Internet chat room users during the album's songwriting phase. A lot of the allusions are to pretty famous events or figures—like the Sears Tower or Carl Sandburg, but I found myself drawn to reading about the localities mentioned in "Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!"