My life changed a lot in 2005– I graduated high school, cut off my long hair, became a Christian, moved to Georgia, started college and Sufjan’s Illinoise was released. 

I had been in love with Sufjan’s music and Sufjan himself from the moment I heard For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti on a mix CD one of my counselors at camp made for me in the 10th grade. I would kick back in my chacos and work on AP Euro homework while listening to the Michigan album over and over. 

But Illinoise was different. When I first heard the song Chicago, a literal gasp escaped from my body– I would never be the same. This is and will remain my favorite song of all time. It was his chefs d'oeuvre; it was my prize. 

Yesterday, Sufjan released an early demo of the song, which is somehow completely different and yet totally the same pure, unadulterated mixture of poignance and adventure that the official version remains. Takes me back to 2005 when the hardest things in life were the breakups of Destiny’s Child, Brad Pitt/Jennifer Anniston, and Nick Lachey/Jessica Simpson…