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Monthly Archives: November 2010

I was pleasantly surprised to hear a Sufjan Stevens song on the radio (kcrw, mind you) yesterday because even though his concert I attended a few weeks ago was sold out I believe he’s an undervalued artist. If you haven’t listened to his music you should check it out. Here is a review I wrote of the show.

Sufjan Stevens @ the Wiltern- Los Angeles, CA 10/23/10

For those who love him, Sufjan Stevens is considered something of an indie-folk rock god.  And since he is not known to go on tour too often, when he does perform it’s a must-see show.  His current tour, which stopped off in Los Angeles for two nights at the beautiful Wiltern Theatre on October 23 and 24, though might not be what fans expect from this Detroit-born singer-songwriter.  This tour is a reflection of the new approach he has taken with his music on his most recent record, THE AGE OF ADZ.  It is quite a detour from his folk/indie-pop sound on some of his former records, such as ILLINOIS and MICHIGAN.  THE AGE OF ADZ is more experimental in its production and sound, which was reflected in the show Sufjan put on with his eight-piece band and two female back-up vocalists/dancers.

Stevens began his set on Saturday evening by welcoming the audience saying “Hello, I’m Sufjan and I will be your entertainment for the evening” and proceeded to jump into a beautiful old track, “Seven Swans.”  Entertaining he truly was; the show was not only sonically compelling, it was visually engaging as well.  With so much going on in the background projection screen- video, photography, and art montages-you almost didn’t notice the fact that Sufjan himself was dancing (if you can call it that) on stage along with most of the newer songs, something one wouldn’t necessarily expect of the intelligent, mild-mannered 35-year-old musician.  Between songs Sufjan explained to the audience that the artwork and theme of the album and used in the performance is partially inspired by the work and life of artist Royal Robertson, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and whose work was often apocalyptic themed.

Although some may consider his attempted use of electronics and orchestral sounds as an overzealous and failed attempt at doing something out of his norm, fans appreciate and admire his musical courage to express and push himself.  Although most of the show consisted of his more recent material, fans of his older work were pleased to hear some favorites such as “Casimir Pulaski Day,” “The Dress Looks Nice on You,” and “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” during the shows encore.  The other standouts of the show for me were “I Walk,” “Enchanting Ghost,” “Vesuvius” and “Chicago.”

THE AGE OF ADZ’ final track “Impossible Soul,” a twenty five minute eclectic masterpiece that even at one point included the use of auto-tune, is a beautiful love declaration that when witnessed live is nothing short of a wonderful and breath-taking experience; it may even very well be Sufjan’s magnum opus.  Although I wish Sufjan played more of his older songs that made me first fall in love with him years ago, his performance still managed to make it up there on my list of all-time favorites.

Sufjan Stevens- “Impossible Soul”

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The last time I remember really feeling absolute peace with my life and happy in the world is earlier this year when my two good friends and I went out to Joshua Tree National Park in Twentynine Palms, California. I wanted to go to watch the Perseid meteor shower under the clear, wide-open sky of the Mojave desert so we headed there late and settled into our campsite by about 11p. We found a spot to lay out on a giant rock and just stared up into the immense sky. We played some music from a small portable radio but once the shower started everything got silent.

To me it was something similar to how Charlie felt in the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky in the scene where he, Sam, and Patrick drive through the tunnel. Charlie, high off weed, stands up in the bed of his friend’s truck as it is going fast in a tunnel and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” is blasting from the stereo. When they come out of the tunnel all of downtown is in front of them. Charlie writes that “in that moment, i swear we were infinite.” Well, this is something like how i felt. Without being on drugs, I felt high. I felt like anything was possible and all was right because what I was witnessing was so beautiful. Being away from all the white noise of the city and in the natural surroundings of the desert made me feel, for lack of a better word, infinite.

“It was a marvelous night, the sort of night one only experiences when one is young. The sky was so bright, and there were so many stars that, gazing upward, one couldn’t help wondering how so many whimsical, wicked people could live under such a sky.” -Fyodor Dostoevsky

Here is a time-lapse video of the meteor shower from Joshua Tree: 

Alas, the feeling, like everything else, was transitory and probably won’t occur again or at least not in the same way.

The Leonid meteor shower happens tonight/this morning so catch it if you can. I wish I was somewhere where I;d be able to see it but instead I will probably be at home in bed sound asleep.

A little explanation of the title of my blog—where it comes from and what it means to me.

“I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” is the name of a documentary film about alternative country rock band Wilco. It is also the title of a song on their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The song is what made me fall in love with them. The line “I am trying to break your heart” itself is so intriguing to me. Whether we can help it or not, sadness is part of life. As people, we cause each other pain whether we mean to or not. It’s the most raw and true emotion, loving someone so much that it hurts and you want them to hurt too because you want them to feel the same. There is something absolutely beautiful in this kind of heartbreak, in completely opening up and being vulnerable.

Wilco- “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”:

Maybe I’m somewhat prone to being oversensitive but I really think that it’s something that’s lacking in humanity– compassion. Yet, as people we have managed to create some of the most beautiful art.  Some art entertains, other art educates, and some try to make you take action and think about a subject. But I think the most powerful and vital art is that which reflects life and makes you feel provokes an emotional response from you.

So my blog will consist of whatever I find beautiful, whether that be film, literature, music, fashion, photography, stories, drawings; anything that is worth something to me. The things I post here inspire and move me.