Say Yes To Michigan: A Physical Exploration of Sufjan Stevens' Third Album

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One year ago I published my write-up on Sufjan Steven’s Michigan, and in the three years I’ve spent running this blog it’s still the thing I’m most proud of. It took many hours, revisions, and relistens to hone that post to a point where the words accurately captured my affection for the record, and even then my relationship with the album has evolved in the past 12 months.

This fall I accepted a job in Detroit and moved out to the Great Lake State from my hometown of Portland, Oregon. While there are plenty of reasons why taking that job was an objectively-good career move, I’d be lying if I said my love for this record didn’t influence my decision in some way. 

So back in September I packed my belongings into my car and spent five days driving across the country to a state I’d never been to, where I knew nobody, and knew almost nothing about.

On my way across the state line, I stopped at the welcome center, took photos, and (of course) queued up Sufjan’s Michigan on my phone. I also made sure to keep my physical copy of the record handy for any photo opportunities that may present themselves, and I quickly realized that there would be many. 

Using a state map from the visitor center, I sat down with Genius, Google Maps, and my copy of the record to plot out how many different locations Sufjan names throughout the course of the record’s 66-minute running time. Turns out it’s a lot.

 What the process looked liked.

What the process looked liked.

While it’s far from comprehensive, I’ve gone out of my way to visit the sights, sounds, and feelings captured on Sufjan’s third record. I’m not going to pretend this is anything more than a glorified iPhone-quality photo gallery, but I view it as an amendment to last year’s Michigan write-up. It’s a physical manifestation of my love for the record and how much it has impacted my life both spiritually and literally. 

This post is a documentation of my life and how Michigan continues to intertwine with it every step of the way. 


Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid)

 City of Flint Water Plant

City of Flint Water Plant

 City of Flint Water Plant

City of Flint Water Plant

 

For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti

 Ypsilanti City Hall

Ypsilanti City Hall

 

Say Yes! to M!ch!gan!

 Bagley Pedestrian Bridge

Bagley Pedestrian Bridge

 

Holland

 Holland

Holland

 Big Red Lighthouse

Big Red Lighthouse

 

Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)

 The Spirit of Detroit

The Spirit of Detroit

 

Romulus

 Romulus Historical Museum

Romulus Historical Museum

 

Sleeping Bear, Sault Saint Marie

 Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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They Also Mourn Who Do Not Wear Black (For the Homeless in Muskegon)

 Muskegon State Park

Muskegon State Park

 

Redford (For Yia-Yia & Pappou)

 The Redford Theater

The Redford Theater

 The Marquee of Redford Township

The Marquee of Redford Township

 
 Yours Truly Enjoying Sleeping Bear, running to the top, and only getting a little scared

Yours Truly Enjoying Sleeping Bear, running to the top, and only getting a little scared