Concerning the UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois | Sufjan Stevens


Bridie McBride

An oldie but most definitely a goodie, “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois” is hauntingly beautiful. Perfect for this especially spooky time of year. The track opens Sufjan Stevens’ groundbreaking album, Illinois (2005), the one that thrust him to the forefront of sad hipsters’ minds (where he remains today).

The song begins with chilling piano pulse, almost like a fluttering heartbeat. Next come the flutes. The flutes! So feathery, so soft and naïve, so haunting. Finally, the vocals: Stevens conveys the most beautiful lyrics (dripping with imagery and symbolism) with his signature, ghostly voice sent to us from above. Both the meter and the key are somewhat ambiguous, adding yet another eerie quality to the piece.

Only Sufjan Stevens could combine aliens with biblical allusions and manage to make you cry while he is at it.

Here’s to you, Suf.