Let's say you die, go to heaven (or final resting place of your choosing), and God (or deity of your choosing) meets you at the gates. He takes you to his palatial mansion where he has a feast waiting for you in the breakfast nook; pancakes, biscuits and gravy, grapefruit. As you tuck in, you notice God has music playing throughout the house via a killer stereo system he had hooked up a few years ago. You listen...
The music is amazing, with boundless drums that accompany piano movements Brubeck would have killed for. And that voice, something akin to Belle and Sebastian in a champagne jam with Sparklehorse and Burt Bacharach. The production is flawless. You overhear that the compositions were inspired by the state of Michigan and that the songwriter, a Detroit native, intends to make a record for each American puzzle piece. That would explain song titles like "Oh, Detroit!" and "Flint." It would also explain the pure celebration in the music, the revelry of Copland and Gershwin, Max Roach gliding over the kit, Ornette Coleman sneaking in from time to time to check on things, and CSN&Y held prisoner inside his voice box.
You finally ask God, "What am I listening to?" He says (in a voice not unlike a shopping-mall Santa) "Why, it's Sufjan Stevens. I haven't taken it out of the player for weeks." He then goes on to explain that you weren't supposed to be in heaven, that it was all a big mistake. The breakfast was meant to smooth things over, and a cash settlement is a possibility. You take the Sufjan Stevens CD instead and wave goodbye as you return to Earth, doggy bag in hand, God's wallet inside. When you get home, you find a note inside the bag: "That Stevens boy has a new record coming out called Seven Swans. Don't download it or I'll do that plague thing again. If you like wine, then it'll be a real bitch."
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