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It has been more than two and a half years since Sufjan Stevens released a studio album, nearly three years since he released an album of non-Christmas songs, and almost four years since he released an album that wasn’t just a compilation (albeit a compelling one) of outtakes from his previous album. The man who once pledged to write a concept album for each of the 50 U.S. states is fast becoming the prolific musician who wasn’t—and the natives are getting restless.
Normally, when a beloved artist fails to release a much-anticipated album, it leaves his votaries in the tricky situation of being swollen with frustration but, wary of biting the hand that feeds, unable to unload it on anyone. Enter Alec Duffy, a self-content theatre director from Brooklyn, winner of last winter’s Sufjan song-swap—a contest wherein Sufjan pledged to send a copy of an unreleased single to the fan who presented him with the best original song. Mr. Duffy composed a wholesome holididdy called “It’s Christmas Every Day,” and won.
On receiving his coveted prize, Mr. Duffy declined to put the song, reportedly titled “The Lonely Man of Winter,” on the Web as feverishly anticipated. Rather, he issued this coy promulgation (as quoted by The 405):
In an effort to counter the cheapening effects of Internet all-availability, and to recapture an era when to get one’s hands on a particular album or song was a real experience, we at my theater company, Hoi Polloi, would like to share this song with Sufjan fans in a special way. We would like to invite you to our Brooklyn home for an exclusive listening session of this gorgeous song, with hot beverages and cookies provided for your enjoyment. We’ll share some conversation, slip some headphones on you, and press play. Please email for more information about finding a time to come over for a special listening session.
Whether Mr. Duffy assumed that anyone who could appreciate Sufjan’s artful chamber-folk orchestrations must necessarily live in Brooklyn or simply did not give a damn about the legions of unwashed urchins who didn’t, this was not widely received in the quaint spirit with which it was proposed. Needless to say, the spurned masses have found in Mr. Duffy an outlet for their Sufjan-withdrawal angst—and an opportunity to nudge the term “douchebaggery” closer to formal nounhood.
For a more detailed version of this story, check out Eric Molinsky’s piece for Studio 360.
Sufjan, by the way, has been in the studio—just not for himself. He just got done producing the debut album of The Welcome Wagon, a Brooklyn-area reverend and his wife, and has been backing them up on banjo.