I Wrote The Track List For “Ohio” Because All Things Considered Sufjan Stevens Is Probably Pretty Busy

It’s time to face facts, everyone. Sufjan Stevens isn’t getting any younger, and it’s been over a decade since his last state-based concept album. He’s 41 now, so if he makes a scant two (2!) high quality ultra-sincere albums about American states per year, he can still retire by 65. But realistically, he probably can’t do it alone.

I decided to help Stevens out by writing the track listing for Ohio, so that he can stop worrying about it and can continue to do the important things, like singing and songwriting and wearing a giant angel wing harness during his Pitchfork Music Festival sets. He can thank me later with a crisp $20 bill or just by taking me out for milkshakes and putting a hand on my shoulder and going, “hey buddy…thanks for your help. Couldn’t have done it without you,” then winking warmly at me in a way that contains multitudes. Either will work.

  1. Lying in the Road Unperturbed in Mid-March, 1972 (the Loveland Frog’s Lament)
  2. Concerning the Woman in the Bumblebee Costume Who Told Me to Fuck Myself and Then Vomited on My Shoes at the Ohio University Halloween Block Party
  3. It’s OK, Cleveland — I Haven’t Won Any NBA Championships Either*
  4. The Big Bottom Massacre Has a Funny Name, but Probably Wasn’t Very Funny to Be a Part of, Or, “Continued Musings on the Northwest Indian War”
  5. Harvey Pekar/American Splendor
  6. Driving Alone at Night on 322 Looking for the Ghost Of “Mad Anthony” Wayne on the Off-Chance a Second Set of Eyes Might Help Him Locate His Bones, Or, “Come on Friends: Let’s Pitch in to Help the Old Brigadier General, He’s Worked Hard and He Deserves a Rest”
  7. A Long Final Blast of a Tugboat’s Horn in Memoriam of the Erie Canal
  8. In Which Sufjan Stevens Agonizes Over Whether to Write a Song About the River That Caught on Fire (You Know the One) and Ultimately Decides Against It (but Maintains That Michael Stipe’s Pronunciation Of “Cuyahoga” Is Pretty Funny)
  9. Late Summer Storms and Small Liberal Arts Colleges (a Lot of Both)
  10. A Series of Tones Approximating the Emotional Peaks and Valleys Sufjan Stevens Felt Trying to Get Back on the Highway From Sunbury, Which Is Really a Lovely Place, After Stopping There for Gas on His Way to Columbus
  11. The Man of Steel Steals Away (Part I: Born in a House in Shaker Heights • Part II: Superman’s Tearful Goodbye as He Leaves for Somewhere With More Opportunities in Journalism and Crimefighting)
  12. A Toast to the Humble Lake Erie Walleye!
  13. While It’s Cruel to Imply That So Many Astronauts Are From Ohio Because They’re Trying to Escape the Midwest, There Have Also Been 22 of Them, Which Seems a Little Much
  14. Dreissena Polymorpha!!! The Scourge of the Great Lakes!!! It Breeds Uncontrollably!!! What Horror!!! Eek!!!
  15. Scott Weiland’s Childhood Friend Said He (Scott) Was Really Good at Dungeons & Dragons, and I Hope Someone Says Something Just as Nice About Me If I Die Unexpectedly
  16. The Mother of Presidents
  17. Skyline Chili (Part I: Who Makes It, It’s Awful • Part II: What Sins Did We Commit to Deserve Such a Fate)
  18. To the Ownership of the Cleveland Indians: I Have Several Suggestions for New Names and Mascots and None of Them Require Cultural Appropriation in Any Way, Shape, or Form
  19. It’s Pretty Quiet in Licking County, so Let’s Play That Drum Fill a Little Louder and Faster for the Encore, Boys
  20. Whether They Were More Into Planes or Bikes, It’s Safe to Say That Wilbur and Orville Wright Would Have a Field Day With the Preponderance of Both in Modern Society
  21. Leslie Townes Hope; “Bob” to His Friends and Adoring Public
  22. Joseph Smith Addresses the Congregation of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints at the Kirtland Temple on the Eve of Their Exodus From Lake County, Ohio, Or, “Things Are Only Going to Get Worse From Here on out, Fellows, but the Lord Will See Us Through to the Promised Land!” or, the Movement That Launched a Thousand South Park Jokes
  23. A Hundred Years Ago Cincinnati Tried to Spend $6 Million to Build a Subway, and All They Have to Show for It Is a Single Lousy Streetcar Line
  24. The Lorain-Carnegie Bridge (Part I: The Industry of the Midwest Will Never Fade! • Part II: Well, Shit • Part III: Now These Art Deco Bas-Reliefs of Native Americans Holding Various Advances in Locomotion in in Their Hands Look Preposterous)

*In this fanciful little fiction I’ve created, this is the one song that Stevens can claim sole writer’s credit for, and we really have it out over whether or not to include it on the album. He’s all like “dude, come on, I wrote it before I went on hiatus with this project and it’s really funny,” and I’m like “no, fuck off, I gave you SO MANY digs at Cleveland already and that’s my fuckin’ town—I hate how everyone’s always clowning on it, plus as of this summer we DO have a championship, so there.” It gets really heated, and for a while we don’t talk, but eventually things cool off and we’re able to finish the album, even though our blossoming friendship never fully recovers.