Redford (for Yia-Yia and Pappou), and: For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti

By Sufjan Stevens


For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti
I have called you children, I have called you son
What is there to answer if I’m the only one?
Morning comes in Paradise, morning comes in light
Still I must obey, still I must invite
If there’s anything to say, if there’s anything to do
If there’s any other way, I’ll do anything for you

I was dressed embarrassment
I was dressed in wine
If you had a part of me, will you take your time?
Even if I come back, even if I die
Is there some idea to replace my life?
Like a father to impress
Like a mother’s mourning dress
If you ever make a mess, I’ll do anything for you

I have called you preacher, I have called you son
If you have a father or if you haven’t one
I’ll do anything for you, I’ll do anything for you

From composer/arranger Mark David Buckles:

I first starting listening to the music of Sufjan Stevens while working at the University of Michigan’s radio station, WCBN Radio Free Ann Arbor. Michigan, released in 2003, was one of Sufjan’s earliest albums and it quickly grew a passionate underground following. I played it all the time at the radio station. In many ways I learned more about music by being a DJ than by going to music school.

Sufjan’s music is characterized by lush and varied orchestration, odd time signatures that manage to feel normal, and mesmeric and often poignant use of repetition. I loved it.

Sufjan was fascinated by location and local histories, and his lyrics and songs are often built around these frameworks. At the time, he spoke of writing an album for each of the 50 states. He eventually abandoned this project following the success of his masterpiece, Illinois.

When I would listen to his music, I would think about the cities and places and people in Michigan. A lot of my experience of the state growing up came through Boy Scouts. We would travel to campgrounds all over the state to experience all the natural beauty of Michigan.

In high school, I attended Interlochen Arts Camp in Northern Michigan, which is where I first met Emily. It was there, surrounded by the pines and the lakes, that I first decided I was going to become a musician.

A few years into college at the University of Michigan (which is where I met Margot), I remember taking a trip with my dad to the upper peninsula to go backpacking through the Porcupine Mountains. Our destination was the appropriately named Paradise, Michigan (the subject of one of these songs). Along the way, we listened together to Michigan and talked about all our times together traveling around the state.

When Emily asked me if I could arrange some songs of Sufjan Stevens for the Michigan Recital Project, it felt like the stars had aligned. A huge thank you to her and Margot and all these fabulous musicians. And a hearty bow of gratitude to Michigan for friends, inspiration, and constancy.


Mark David Buckles is a conductor, composer, singer, music educator, and multi-instrumentalist. Mark David’s many roles include serving as the Director of Music at Arlington Street Church in Boston, Music Director of The Sanctuary Boston, and Lecturer of Music Theory at MIT.
In addition, Mark David is both a prolific composer and arranger of choral, vocal, and instrumental music, and an acclaimed performer and worship leader, leading worship and music services throughout the country with his reverent spirit and infectious energy.
When he is not making music and/or spending time with his amazing daughter, Mark David enjoys chess, hiking, bread, and geocaching.

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