Artist – Sufjan Stevens
Album – All Delighted People – EP
Year – 2010
Genre – Indie Folk
Before we begin, just take a moment to enjoy the cat video that I posted above that’s set to this song. I literally guarantee it will make your day better both in picture and sound.
Ok, so we’re on Sufjan Stevens Pt. deux! For the second song (and my 150th review) I chose “Heirloom.” This is as much of a straightforward song as Stevens has ever written, but it’s one of his most beautiful in my opinion. It’s a gorgeous demonstration of incredible songwriting and simple, honest musicianship.
As soon as that lush guitar starts the song, I’m totally into it; hook, line, and sinker. It’s a simple D G progression, but those are the progressions that I love and that we continue to love time after time. The finger picked melody adds a lot of texture that’s absolute bliss to experience.
Stevens’ voice is again soft and earnest, but exudes that sense of vulnerability and honesty that makes him so appealing to listen to. Every word he sings you believe with all your heart, especially a part we’ll come to at the end.
For interpretations of lyrics in this one, I was a bit torn. I couldn’t decide to myself whether I thought it was a love song or a lost love song. I think it could easily be either depending on the listener and their experiences and what they decide to bring to the song. For me, I lean more towards the lost love side. From the first verse, which displays an lovely melody that just sticks with you, Stevens’ declaration of:
When your mourning has a sound
And you hesitate to laugh
How quickly will your joy pass
seems to indicate a sense of sadness or nostalgia. The whole chorus section is just an absolutely breathtaking expression of total openness and expression of love. It’s sad and melancholic, but it’s as if Stevens is admitting his faults in love to the world and now he wants to show his lover how much he truly would do anything for her. This line is especially beautiful:
And when your legs give out just lie right down
And I will kiss you ’til your breath is found
Keep in mind that all the while this incredible guitar is just keeping the song simple and open. It’s just a man and his feelings and the music, which in my mind is the rawest and most emotional form of songwriting.
The interlude after the chorus is filled a choir of beautiful “la’s” from Stevens, and adds more atmosphere to the otherwise very simple song. But the second verse is one of the times when I’ve heard Stevens at his most vulnerable and bare. He’s finally baring his soul to his love, and he truly knows himself for who he is, and as he sings these two lines, you weep for him because you believe his love is completely true and kind:
Oh no I never meant to be a pest to anyone this time
Oh no I only meant to be a friend to everyone this time
He knows himself to be a good person, but he knows he’s made a mistake. To me, that is the most sincere form of honesty. Admitting your mistakes is never easy, but you can tell Stevens is a good, kind soul deep down. It’s an expression of someone who gives so much of himself to others, but still things never seem to work out for him and he is heartbroken. It’s a sentiment that I myself can relate to very much. Not that it’s necessarily true, but I sometimes feel like he does in this song. I think a lot of us out there feel like we give a lot of ourselves, but receive very little in return, even if we don’t expect very much. In that regard I think it’s a song we all have to hear so we can relate to it in our own way.
Not only do the words stir you, but the soaring melody for those two lines will leave you breathless. It’s a cry. It’s an outburst of pure heartache that’s been pent up inside of him. It’s chilling to hear.
The final chorus section accentuates the last verse, and the song ends as quietly and as nondescript as it began. It’s a song for the moment. The moment has passed. Life continues on.
Thanks for reading my double review! If this is something you guys would like to see in the future, let me know! Until then, let me know what you think of this song! Definitely a must listen if you ask me, and I think I picked a good one for my 150th!