A Winner Needs A Wand

by Sufjan Stevens

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Sufjan Stevens is a pioneer in the indie-folk renaissance, noted for his evocative songwriting, use of diverse instruments from across cultures, and the string and horn arrangements that lend his music their symphonic quality.

Stevens has an MFA in fiction from The New School.  “A Winner Needs A Wand” (released on A Sun Came, Stevens’ first album) exemplifies Stevens’ mastery of internal rhyme and humorous/associative wordplay:

This bite, you bit on me
You put on me a gown

Like the fennel seed
The funny gene you found

I like the man-o-weeds
The man-o-wars abound

I might just win a war
A matador around

This life, a winner needs
A winner needs a wand

In the same way that Stevens would explore a range of musical styles in later albums—from Enjoy Your Rabbit, an electronica concept album inspired by the Chinese Zodiac, to Greetings from Michigan, a folk rock album based on the cities and people of the Great Lakes State—this first album was also a style all of its own.  These early Stevens songs were characterized by wooden flutes, sitars, and Arabic chants, and were interspersed with tracks more akin to spoken word poetry than anything else. – Zachary Greenberg and Matthew Baker


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