Thesis: "There's too much riding on that/there's too much writing on that."

Plot: Sufjan Stevens becomes frustrated with all the variables that life offers which disable him from experiencing the world peacefully.

In "Too Much," Sufjan begins to deal with the flaws he presented in "Futile Devices."

Instead of wanting to feel love, he wants to see it; he wants to prove it exists before he takes any risks. There's too much riding on these opportunities for him to take a leap of faith without hard evidence, going as far as using a battering ram to force his way into figuring it out.

And although he actually apologizes for this, he apologizes for the wrong reasons: he regrets trying at all, instead of regretting trying incorrectly.

The na-na-na-na's in the background are the terrifying overload of voices, both that Royal Robertson hears in his head as his schizophrenia begins to take over, and Sufjan Stevens (and the listener) hear every day; the ah-ah-ah-ah-ah's are the screams that echo in response to the overload, which themselves add to the noise. The New York Times, CNN, the Facebook News Feed, page after page of Reddit aggregations, textbooks and regular books and e-books; they all acknowledge the fact that there is "too much" in the world, too much of everything, and yet all these mediums can do is state that there is too much. Words are futile devices. They do nothing about it, and thus add further to the chaotic array of voices that attack us from all sides. The song is an embodiment of this concept: most of the song is frantic and frenzied, and yet, almost every line in the song is simply, "There's too much riding on that." Sufjan does nothing about what he is saying except continue to say it.

At the 4:12 mark, all sounds are reduced to a few beats, which then begin to build up once more. Here is where Sufjan finds peace, in his orchestral creations that layer one sound on top of another to simulate a sublime natural Earth. The flutes evoke birds which, while at first entranced by his sounds, begin to scramble in confusion as the music swells and the layers pile up as they did in his ambitious works. Finally, the words come back in when it is finally too much again. He cannot find the balance, and so, Sufjan charges into a chaotic anti-symphony, à la the ten-minute mess that was his Castanets cover of "You Are the Blood" on 2009's Dark Was the Night compilation, rather than succumbing to the pristine acoustic sounds of Seven Swans and Greetings from Michigan, which work well and sound pretty, yes, but that he also found to be too safe, too boring.

I definitely feel like, What is the point? What's the point of making music anymore? I'm tired of these grand, epic endeavours, and wanting to just make music for the joy of making music and having it be immediate and nothing to do with the industry itself, which, y'know is suffering right now of course.

And I think it has to do with a creative crisis too. I'm wondering what am I doing? What is a song even? I'm questioning, what's the point of a song? Is a song antiquated? Does it have any power any more? The format itself-- a narrative song with accompaniment-- is really beyond me now. It's so ambiguous and diversified, it seems to lack shape.

I feel like it's all related to this existential crisis: me versus what I am chronicling, or me versus my work, y'know? And I don't think I can win; I feel like it's a losing battle.

I'm at a point where I no longer have a deep desire to share my music with anyone.


Sufjan said these things, less than two years ago. He had exhausted everything; there was so much, too much, and he felt it all, created it all, and could not figure out how to truly innovate once more.

Thank God he did not give up.
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