Sufjan Stevens has a really interesting musical story. For his first album, A Sun Came, he travelled all around the U.S. with a four-track recorder, recording each instrument in whatever location he deemed appropriate (sitar in one state, woodwinds in another, organ in another, digital samples in another, etc.). He then pieced all of those seemingly disparate parts together in songs.
Several years after that experiment, he came out with Come on Feel the Illinoise!, an album inspired by the state. The album was the second addition to his “50 States Project,” the first being Greetings from Michigan – The Great Lake State. All in all, the project represented a gigantic undertaking (50 albums is an absurd amount of material), and is unlikely to be finished. It turns out that he wrote many, many more songs for Illinoise! then could fit on the album, so after its release, he released a “B Sides” type album, entitled The Avalanche, which contained all of the material not included on Illinoise!
The remarkable thing is that both albums contain a majority of great songs. I honestly think I like The Avalanche more, oddly enough. On the album, he includes three alternate versions of the most popular single off of Illinoise!, “Chicago”, entitled “Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder Version)”, “Chicago (Adult Contemporary Easy Listening Version)” and “Chicago [Acoustic]” respectively.
They are each interesting in their own way, and, in tandem, paint a very clear picture of Sufjan’s overall style. I’ve included them all below (along with the original)…try to listen to each of them if you can. I’d also really love to know which one(s) you guys think are the best, so if you’re up to it, vote in the poll at the bottom of the post as well.
Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder Version)
Chicago (Adult Contemporary Easy Listening Version)