Sufjan Performs “The Mistress Witch from McClure,” Talks Faulkner

This past Monday, Sufjan partook at Pen American Center’s “PENultimate Lit: An Evening on Music & Literature” at Southpaw in Brooklyn. When not talking books, Stevens took to the stage and played some stripped-down ditties. For instance, here’s the man sporting some ragged facial hair, tuning his banjo a while, before moving into a moving rendition of “The Mistress Witch from McClure (Or the Mind that Knows Itself).” The hula hoops and triumphal orchestras are nice, but sometimes Soof sounds best by his lonesome, scratching at the door, like the music suggests.

Folksy. Remember the shadowy Take-Away version? (Or when Soof climbed up on the roof?) Less facial hair, just as much beauty. It’s at these moments — and moments like these — that it’s clear that all good naysayers should admit the man has skills. What’s not as clear is what’s being said in his lit-panel discussion with novelist Rick Moody and Wesley Stace, aka John Wesley Harding. We kid. Find out why Sufjan fears the South after the jump.

Since they’re in Southpaw, might as well talk about Southern Fiction! Faulkner (Light In August, etc), Tennessee Williams … the mention of these small moments in language occurring in a “vast landscape” is pretty telling about Sufjan’s songwriting, actually. Dig his “Southern fetish mixed with fear” and honesty about “feeling like a foreigner” down there, but check out Stace getting all snooty-like about Tristram Shandy. Yeah, we’ve read it dude, and it doesn’t make your music any more interesting. We kid. But seriously.