Six months ago we heard about a pending Sufjan Stevens contribution to Red Hot’s long-gestating Arthur Russell tribute comp, which also includes covers by Robyn, Hot Chip, Blood Orange, Phosphorescent, Jose Gonzalez, and many more. The comp has been renamed Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell, and Sufjan’s take on Russell’s “A Little Lost” has emerged online. Whereas the original was a woozy, intimate chamber-pop love song, this version is a blown-out affair that pays homage to Russell but sounds distinctly Sufjan. The arrangement brilliantly bridges Stevens’ early orchestral twee-folk and latter-day electronic pop experiments; on first listen, it’s the best thing he’s done in years. Here’s what Sufjan had to say about it:
I like “A Little Lost” because it’s all about kissing. I love kissing. If I could kiss all day, I would. I can’t stop thinking about kissing. I like kissing more than sex because there’s no end to it. You can kiss forever. You can kiss yourself into oblivion. You can kiss all over the body. You can kiss yourself to sleep. And when you wake up, you can’t stop thinking about kissing. Dammit, I can’t get anything done because I’m so busy thinking about kissing. Kissing is madness! But it’s absolute paradise, if you can find a good kisser.
Arthur’s music is all over the place, but most of it seems to be about embracing darkness (loneliness) and ambiguity (confusion) with the biggest bear hug in the world. Catharsis! He didn’t give a shit about fads or fashion even as he was influenced by popular music, club music, and all that shitty art music at the Kitchen. He kind of cobbled it all together to create his own diverse musical language, He was funny as shit (a wordsmith, a master of the innuendo), but also dead serious (and blunt) about the deepness of his feelings, unafraid to express affection in his songs, without pandering or cliche. Arthur was real as shit. You can’t fake realness.
Listen to Sufjan’s cover of “A Little Lost” below.