A friend of mine, whom I respect more than I can express, once said to me that Sufjan Stevens is Michigan’s favorite son. I want to add that Sufjan Stevens is also a great fit for Jalopnik. Not only because of the songwriter’s album named after the Chevy Avalanche, but also because his work explores such Jalopnik mainstays as life-affirming road trips with songs like “Chicago” and even our weird interests like Spacelopnik, with the album Planetarium — which just so happens to namedrop the Jeep Cherokee on the song “Venus,” its fourth track.
But Sufjan Stevens is a fit mostly because I’m almost obligated to play his music on any drive longer than a couple of hours — which isn’t that uncommon for me, because I live in this very flat, very wide state, Texas. And when I’m taking a drive or a motorcycle ride just to think, I’ll even play Sufjan Steven songs that remind me how “every roads lead to an end,” as the verse in this song goes.
The song I’ve linked is a remix featured on the The Greatest Gift Mixtape, released in 2017. The song was originally called “Death with Dignity,” and it was the opening track of Sufjan Stevens’ heart-wrenching album Carrie & Lowell, released in 2015. The earlier of the two albums is, more or less, how the artist worked through his mother’s death. It’s an honest, painful attempt to make sense of death and estrangement, and an effort to reconcile the anger and loss a child feels when a parent dies. In some ways, it’s like André 3000's “Me&My.”
And just like André’s song, this remix — courtesy of Helado Negro — takes the subject matter of the original song, “Death with Dignity,” and turns it into something happier than it should be. It turns the notion of dying with dignity directly on its head, and makes it about living with dignity instead. The video explains it better than I ever could. Simply put, this is one of the greatest remixes I’ve ever heard. The song, and the whole mixtape, is in the running for some of the best oneiric music for most anyone who’s lost a loved one.