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This is a page for the references and allusions found in the work of Sufjan Stevens.

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     A SUN CAME 
  • According to an ancient interview in Sound Collector, "Kill" is a retelling of Sherwood Anderson's "The Man Who Became a Woman".
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     SEVEN SWANS 
  • The album is rife with references to the works of Flannery O’Connor:
    • "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is based on her short story by the same name.
    • "In the Devil's Territory" takes its title from a line in Mystery and Manners.
    • "Size Too Small" contains the phrase "everything rises, going at it all," which could be read as a reference to O'Connor's story "Everything That Rises Must Converge".
    • The Title Track has a lot in common thematically with her two novels, The Violent Bear it Away and Wise Blood.

     ILLINOIS 
  • Songs on the album mention Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln; politician Stephen A. Douglas; Helen Keller; serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr.; black preacher A.W. Jackson; social activist Jane Addams; musician Benny Goodman; baseball player Joe Jackson; as well as the Chicago Cubs and its associated goat curse.
  • "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" is about Superman being created in Illinois. Superman was also infamously included on initial editions of the album but removed to avoid issues with copyright.
  • The title of ''Come On Feel the Illinoise!" is a play on Slade's "Cum On Feel the Noize".
    • The song uses a saxophone part from "Close to Me" by The Cure.
    • Carl Sandburg (or, rather, his ghost) appears as a character in the second part of the song.
  • "Chicago" is very loosely inspired by the Carl Sandburg poem of the same name.
  • "The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders" mentions "The Great Frontier", a book by Walter Prescott Webb on the settlement of the web.
  • "They Are Night Zombies!.." fittingly mentions Night of the Living Dead (1968).
  • "In This Temple as in the Hearts of Man for Whom He Saved the Earth" bases its name off of part of the Lincoln Memorial epitaph ("In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he [Lincoln] saved the union").

     CHRISTMAS SONGS 
  • "Christmas Unicorn" samples Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart".
  • The claymation music video for "Mr Frosty Man" pays homage to the famous chainsaw sequence from Evil Dead 2.

     ALL DELIGHTED PEOPLE 

     CARRIE & LOWELL 
  • "Death with Dignity" references the fable of the little Red Hen, wherein an industrious barnyard animal does all the hard work to make bread while the other animals laze around.
  • The indifferent partner in "All of Me Wants All of You" is compared to Poseidon, the ancient Greek god the sea.
  • "Drawn to the Blood" references the myth of Samson and Delilah.
  • "In the Shadow of the Cross" is a hymn by William J. Henry.
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     THE GREATEST GIFT 

     OTHER 
  • "Mystery of Love" mentions the relationship between Alexander & Hephaestion.
  • "Visions of Gideon" name-drops the prophet Gideon.
  • "Tonya Harding" is about (surprise!) Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding.
    • It also references figure skating contemporaries Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan, including the infamous attack on the latter.
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