Carrie & Lowell

Album: Carrie & Lowell (2015)

Songfacts®:

  • The acoustic title track of Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell album, this is named after his late mother and stepfather. Carrie died of stomach cancer in December 2012 after deserting her son when he was a child. Sufjan got to know Carrie over three summers spent visiting her and Lowell in Oregon and later spent time with her in the hospital just before she died.

    Lowell, who was married to Carrie for five years when Sufjan was growing up, now runs his label, Asthmatic Kitty.
  • Stevens wrote Carrie & Lowell in the wake of grief after losing his mother. He told Pitchfork: "I'm being explicit about really horrifying experiences in my life, but my hope has always been to be responsible as an artist and to avoid indulging in my misery, or to come off as an exhibitionist. I don't want to make the listener complicit in my vulnerable prose poem of depression, I just want to honor the experience. I'm not the victim here, and I'm not seeking other peoples' sympathy. I don't blame my parents, they did the best they could."

    "At worst, these songs probably seem really indulgent," Stevens added. "At their best, they should act as a testament to an experience that's universal: Everyone suffers; life is pain; and death is the final punctuation at the end of that sentence, so deal with it. I really think you can manage pain and suffering by living in fullness and being true to yourself and all those seemingly vapid platitudes."
  • Stevens told Uncut why he decided to return to the ballad form for Carrie & Lowell. "I just didn't feel like I needed to ....work through the death of my mother with noise," he said, "but with words."

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