A couple of weeks ago the incomparable Sufjan Stevens released a mixtape titled The Greatest Gift, which contained demos, b-sides, and remixes from his 2015 album Carrie & Lowell. It’s a surprisingly whole piece of work, well worth checking out even if you’re typically not into odds-and-ends compilations. Aside from that, Sufjan hasn’t shared any news of a full length follow up album, but he just surprise-released a brand new song. Well, technically, two brand new songs.
The new track is titled “Tonya Harding,” and instead of releasing just one version, Sufjan has given us two. One, the standard one, is in D major, while the other is in Eb major. The songs each stand on their own as original compositions, despite being essentially the same thing.
Tonya Harding, the U.S. figure skater, seems to be a totally random subject for Sufjan to write a song about, but apparently he’s been wanting to do it for a long, long time. He writes:
“I’ve been trying to write a Tonya Harding song since I first saw her skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1991. She’s a complicated subject for a song partly because the hard facts of her life are so strange, disputable, heroic, unprecedented, and indelibly American. She was one of the greatest figure skaters of her time, and the first American woman to perform a triple axle in an international competition. She was an unlikely skating star, having been raised working class in Portland, Oregon. Being a poor outsider, her rise to fame in the skating rink was seen, by some, as a blemish on a sport that favored sophistication and style.“
Check out the standard version of the song (in D major) below. Or, head over to bandcamp (right here) to stream both versions. You can also pre-order the tracks on a cassette, or on a limited blue marbled colored 7″ via Asthmatic Kitty here.