Wall Street Journal Discovers Sufjan Stevens Christmas Song in June


Back on one of the colder, more snow-choked days of February, we sent SOTC buddy Jessica Suarez deep in the wilds of Crown Heights to hear a song by Sufjan Stevens that, at the time, only a handful of other people on the planet had heard. A theater director by the name of Alec Duffy had won the 2007 Sufjan Stevens Xmas Song Exchange Contest, and in return received a for-his-ears-only recording of “The Lonely Man of Winter,” which, starting around January, become the object of some extremely twee listening sessions involving homemade chocolate cookies and loose leaf Jasmine tea. Anyway, now the Wall Street Journal has discovered these listening sessions! “Indie folk and rock singer Sufjan Stevens has avid fans in many countries who are desperate to hear one of his latest songs,” writes the Journal. “But to do that, they have to get to Alec Duffy’s apartment in Brooklyn.” It continues:

    Fans come from near and far, taking subways or timing flights to New York City to attend listening sessions. They walk through a corridor strewn with strollers to get to his corner apartment in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights. Since January, when he started the sessions, Mr. Duffy says about 60 people have come to his place to hear the tune, called “The Lonely Man of Winter.” He doesn’t charge them to hear it.

Not they wrote it, but there is an aspect to this story that is not five months old. Apparently, Duffy and his facilitating pal Dave Malloy are fully committed to their tiny franchise–less amazing that they did this in the first place is the fact that they’re still doing it 60-odd strangers and hundreds of days later. How do they pay for all those handmade cookies?

The piece doesn’t bother to actually describe what the song sounds like (entertainingly, the WSJ photographer was apparently asked to stop “clicking” on the room’s first listen, as Duffy wanted listeners “to preserve the first moment only in memory”). This is how it sounded in February:

    The song itself? It’s gorgeous. “The Lonely Man Of Winter” has one of those slow, “Chicago”-like broken chords leading the way. Stevens’ voice cracks just a little bit on some of the words. Like many of his Christmas tracks, it dwells on the self-reflection that comes with the holiday. The sleigh bells are the most joyful thing about it.

Maybe those sleigh bells were seasonally inconvenient for the Journal?

Not-So-Easy Listening: It Takes a Trek to Hear This Track [WSJl]