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[LISTEN] SUFJAN STEVENS: ‘Christmas Unicorn’

Those rumours about Sufjan Stevens’ planned Christmas release have been confirmed with the announcement that he will release a huge box set next month titled Silver & Gold: Songs For Christmas. The set includes 58 songs spread across five EPs, consisting of entries 6-10 in his long-running Songs For Christmas series. Contributors this time around include The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner as well as Arcade Fire’s Reed Parry. The physical release will include such ridiculous goodies as temporary tattoos, a colouring book, an ornament, a poster, lyrics and sheet music, and Sufjan’s psychedelic art — which you can order here. The last song on the tracklist, a 12-minute bittersweet epic called ‘Christmas Unicorn’, has been released and you can find it below as well as further details on the set.

Listen to ‘Christmas Unicorn’ below (via Stereogum).

Silver & Gold: Songs For Christmas is out November 13. Check out the tracklist and further details below.

 

1.
 Silent Night
2.
Lumberjack Christmas / No One Can Save You From Christmases Past
3.
Coventry Carol
4.
The Midnight Clear
5.
Carol of St. Benjamin The Bearded One
6.
Go Nightly Cares
7.
Barcarola (You Must Be A Christmas Tree)
8.
Auld Lang Syne
9.
Christ the Lord is Born
10.
Christmas Woman
11.
Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light
12.
Happy Family Christmas
13.
Jingle Bells
14.
Mysteries of the Christmas Mist
15.
Lift Up Your Heads Ye Mighty Gates
16.
We Wish You A Merry Christmas
17.
Ah Holy Jesus
18.
Behold the Birth of Man, the Face of Glory
19.
Ding-a-ling-a-ring-a-ling
20.
How Shall I Fitly Meet Thee?
21.
Mr. Frosty Man
22.
Make Haste To See the Baby
23.
Ah Holy Jesus (with reed organ)
24.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
25.
Morning (Sacred Harp)
26.
Idumea (Sacred Harp)
27.
Eternal Happiness Or Woe
28.
Ah Holy Jesus (a capella)
29.
I Am Santa’s Helper
30.
Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages)
31.
Even the Earth Will Perish and the Universe Give Way
32.
Angels We Have Heard On High
33.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
34.
Christmas In The Room
35.
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
36.
Good King Wenceslas
37.
Alphabet
38.
Particle Physics
39.
Joy To The World
40.
The Child With The Star On His Head
41.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas
42.
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
43.
The Sleigh In The Moon
44.
Sleigh Ride
45.
Ave Maria (featuring Cat Martino)
46.
X-mas Spirit Catcher
47.
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
48.
Holly Jolly Christmas
49.
Christmas Face
50.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
51.
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
52.
Up On The Housetop
53.
Angels We Have Heard On High
54.
We Need A Little Christmas
55.
Happy Karma Christmas
56.
We Three Kings
57.
Justice Delivers Its Death
58.
Christmas Unicorn (free) 12:28

Christmas is a drag. Year after year, winter upon winter, we find ourselves “going through the motions of merriment,” possessed by a fervent celestial fever, conquered, squandered, beaten, broken, reduced to that clammy, pre-pubescent spoiled brat kid of our childhood, throwing a fit on Santa’s lap, faced with the hard-candy facts of reality, knowing for certain we will never really get what want for Christmas. Or in life, for that matter. 

This is the true horror-show catharsis of Christmas: the existential emptiness that perseveres in the heart of modern man as he recklessly pursues his search for happiness and comes up empty handed. 

And yet, against all odds, we continue to sing our songs of Christmas. If Christmas is the holiday of “worst case scenarios” then its carol has become its most corrupted currency, intoning rhapsody and romance with mistletoe and Marshmallow Fluff, placating the public with indelible melodies propagating a message of peace, love, and venture capitalism. 

So what is it about Christmas music that continues to agitate our aging heartstrings? Is it the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen? Or the boundless Potential Energy inherent in this bastard holiday so fitfully exploited, adapted, and confounded with no regard for decency? 

Maybe this: Christmas music does justice to a criminal world, marrying sacred and profane, bellowing obtuse prophecies of a Messiah in the very same blustery breath as a candy-coated TV-jingle advertising a string of lights and a slice of fruitcake. Gloria! 

Who can save us from the infidels of Christmas commodity? Look no further, tired shopper, for your hero arrives as the diligent songwriter Sufjan Stevens: army of one, banjo in one hand, drum machine in the other, holed up in his room, surrounded by hymnals, oratorios, music charts, sacred harp books, photo-copied Readers Digest Christmas catalogs—all the weaponry of Yuletide incantations—singing his barbaric yawp above the snow-capped rooftops. 

His song is love; his song is hope; his song is peace. His song conjures the fruitcake world of his own imagination with steadfast pursuit of the inexplicable bliss of Christmas Promises—“Gloria in excelsis deo”—summoning the company of angels, the helper elves, the shepherds keeping flock, the innkeepers, the coupon-clippers, the marathon runners, the cross-country skiers, the bottom feeders, the grocery store baggers, the bridge and tunnel drivers, the construction workers, the ice cream makers, the toll booth workers, the street sweepers, the single mothers, the custodians, the rich and the poor, the walking dead, the community of saints, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, the Prince of Persia, and all the invisible hosts of heaven to participate in this absurd cosmic adventure, pursuing holly-jolly songs of hope and redemption with a sacred heart for the love of the holidays, for the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

1 ping

  1. [WATCH] SUFJAN STEVENS: ‘Mr. Frosty Man’ [Dir. Lee Hardcastle] » A FISTFUL OF CULTURE

    […] & Gold: Songs for Christmas Volumes 6-10 – from which we’ve already heard ‘Christmas Unicorn‘ — and today he has released an unexpected new video for ‘Mr. Frosty Man’. […]

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