A Very Sufjan Christmas
The holidays are either your favorite time of the year or the season that you dread the most. I consider myself firmly in the camp of Christmas lovers, but between the mindless consumerism and the incessant holiday music, it’s easy to see why the holidays are so divisive. As off-puttingly-cheery as some holiday songs can get, I’m still the guy that breaks out the Christmas music the second that the clock strikes midnight on October 31st. Over the last decade, there’s one artist whose holiday tunes I look forward to more than any other: Sufjan Stevens.
While you may recognize his voice from 2017’s Call Me By Your Name, Sufjan has been quietly putting out some of the best folk albums of the last two decades. His discography is massive, ranging from sparse acoustic meditations on death to electronic bombast and odes to midwestern states. As varied as his work is, one of the most fascinating pieces Sufjan’s musical persona is his massive 100-song Christmas catalog. You read that right: one-hundred Christmas songs.
Setting out to write about all one-hundred of Sufjan’s Christmas songs, I embarked on this project in the summer of 2018, reaching out to friends both online and in real life to see who would be interested in sharing their love of Sufjan’s Christmas songs with the world. The result was A Very Sufjan Christmas, a communal music blog that bloomed into an outpouring of indie-tinged Christmas spirit.
From December 1st until Christmas Day the site featured one write-up a day, each written by a different person covering a different song. It wasn't just a blog; it was a musical advent calendar that was heartfelt, heart-warming, and harrowing.
While I submitted my own write-up to kick the project off, I also spent the holiday season designing the site, running its social media, editing submissions, and wrangling twenty-four other creatives. I consider this my first brush with project management, but the massive amounts of time, effort, and money I expelled were more than worth it to share these songs and experiences with a broader audience. I like to think we helped spread a little Christmas Spirit, and I can’t wait to do it again this holiday season.