Doveman interviews Sufman for Salon.com:
THOMAS BARLETT: Why so many versions of “Chicago”? What is it particularly about that song that it needed so many incarnations?
SUFJAN STEVENS: It’s just a pop song. You know how sometimes there’ll be this great radio hit, and people will do covers of it, alternate versions — Madonna has a dance remix, a club mix, a radio mix, an acoustic version — I think it’s a part of that whole tradition. But I just did it all myself because I knew no one else would probably do it.
The curse has been that this is a song that I never really valued that much. I think the story behind the song is important to me, and the emotional intention is there, but the song itself, technically, is just so primitive: It’s just four chords, verse-chorus-verse-chorus, it’s very repetitive. There’s not much to it … which is probably why it’s so popular (laughs), because it appeals to the lowest common denominator.
TB: You’ve expressed surprise in the past that so many people have responded to your 50 states project. Do you think that’s possibly because we live in an era of singles and downloads, and in response there’s a real hunger for meaningful full-length albums?
SS: I think there’s a reduction in quality and a lowering of standards overall in art and music. I’m not sure what the cause of this is — maybe it’s television, advertising, pop culture — but there’s definitely a decrease in literacy rates and languages and endangered species lists are going up. There’s just, throughout the ages, a process of reduction and simplification. Maybe it’s a decline of civilization, and as there’s a proliferation of computers and technology, that the human mind is in decline.
TB: Are you being serious?
SS: Dude, I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Sufjan Stevens has 0 friends. ‘Sup Suf? Too cool for MySpace?