Sufjan Stevens' World

Sufjan Stevens is having a moment

Sufjan Stevens is the famously eclectic musician who’s having a big moment in pop culture. Over the course of the last decade, the 41-year old multi-instrumentalist and singer has released multiple albums featuring different styles of both music and topics, and has been the soundtrack to many famous works such as Little Miss Sunshine and This is Us. This past year, however, Sufjan Steven’s is getting a big look in the world of film and pop culture. Three of his songs were featured in the critically acclaimed film, Call Me By Your Name that has received widespread attention and love. Set in Northern Italy in 1983, the film chronicles the story of 17-year-old Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer) as their relationship develops throughout the summer. While the songs are definitely featured in the film, that isn’t an adequate description of the relationship between Stevens and this film. Rather, we’d say the film is engulfed with the voice of Sufjan Stevens, and the songs bring us through the journey of the main characters relationship. Stevens voice becomes a familiar motif in the storyline. After you see the film, as I deeply implore you to do so, you soon realize that film and song become one, completely inseparable.

The story of Stevens and Call Me By Your Name dates back to 2015, when he was approached by director Luca Guadagnino with the opportunity to collaborate. While Stevens was at first hesitant to work with anyone in Hollywood, he soon accepted Luca’s invitation as he was drawn to both the director’s past work and the plot of the movie. Stevens wrote two new songs for the film: "Mystery of Love" and "Visions of Gideon". Both were released slightly before the film debuted in theatres. Each song has gotten a significant amount of attention in the media and music sphere in response to both the quality of the music and popularity of the film. A third song, “Futile Devices”, was remixed by artist Doveman for the film. As a collective powerful tool, the three songs lead us through the story of Elio and Oliver, as each song is featured at pivotal moments in their relationship. The lyrics complement the feeling experienced in each scene well, pushing us to feel what the character is feeling at that moment in time. The songs create a mood for the viewer both sonically and lyrically, drawing them into this intimate love story. As the film ends, we’re left with a feeling of needing a lot more music from Sufjan Stevens. These songs are a strong example of the way that music can carry us through a story.