Yes, a good cry is just the thing for a frigid, faintly nauseous Monday, and that's exactly what this new Sufjan Stevens track delivers. With references to vampires, dragons and Casper the Friendly Ghost, "No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross" manages to be cryptic and painfully relatable -- and beautiful -- all at once.
In a Pitchfork interview posted today, Stevens describes the complicated progress of his grief following the death of his mother, who suffered mental problems and hadn't been a regular participant in family affairs since Stevens' first year of life.
It was so terrifying to encounter death and have to reconcile that, and express love, for someone so unfamiliar. Her death was so devastating to me because of the vacancy within me. I was trying to gather as much as I could of her, in my mind, my memory, my recollections, but I have nothing. It felt unsolvable.... But I say make amends while you can: Take every opportunity to reconcile with those you love or those who've hurt you. It was in our best interest for our mother to abandon us. God bless her for doing that and knowing what she wasn't capable of.
He also reminds us that, despite circulating freely in the frightened-agnostic world of indie-rock, he is a true-blue Christian:
My love of God and my relationship with God is fundamental, but its manifestations in my life and the practices of it are constantly changing. I find incredible freedom in my faith. Yes, the kingdom of Christianity and the Church has been one of the most destructive forces in history, and there are levels of bastardization of religious beliefs. But the unique thing about Christianity is that it is so amorphous and not reductive to culture or place or anything. It's extremely malleable.
Hear the song, above. Carrie & Lowell is out March 31 on Asthmatic Kitty.