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Sufjan Stevens - No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross

Now that I fell into your arms
My only lover
Give out to give in
I search for the capsule I lost

Drag me to hell in the valley of The Dalles
Like my mother
Give wings to a stone
It’s only the shadow of a cross

I slept on my back in the shade of the meadowlark
Like a champion
Get drunk to get laid
I take one more hit when you depart

I'll drive that stake through the center of my heart
Lonely vampire
Inhaling its fire
I’m chasing the dragon too far

There’s blood on that blade
Fuck me, I'm falling apart
My assassin
Like Casper the ghost
There’s no shade in the shadow of the cross

LYRICS: Now that I fell into your arms My only lover Give out to give in I search for the capsule I lost Drag me to hell In the valley of The Dalles Like my mother Give wings to a stone It’s only the shadow of a cross I slept on my back In the shade of the meadowlark Like a champion Get drunk to get laid I take one more hit when you depart I’ll drive that stake through the center of my heart Lonely vampire Inhaling its fire I’m chasing the dragon too far There’s blood on that blade Fuck me, I’m falling apart My assassin Like Casper the ghost There’s no shade in the shadow of the cross Excerpt from interview with Pitchfork, which might shed some light on the meaning of the lyrics: Pitchfork: Considering you had a distant relationship, were you at all surprised that her death hit you so hard? SS: Yeah. In the moment, I was stoic and phlegmatic and practical, but in the months following I was manic and frantic and disparaging and angry. They always talk about the science of bereavement, and how there is a measurable pattern and cycle of grief, but my experience was lacking in any kind of natural trajectory. It felt really sporadic and convoluted. I would have a period of rigorous, emotionless work, and then I would be struck by deep sadness triggered by something really mundane, like a dead pigeon on the subway track. Or my niece would point out polka-dotted tights at the playground, and I would suffer some kind of cosmic anguish in public. It's weird. I was so emotionally lost and desperate for what I could no longer pursue in regard to my mother, so I was looking for that in other places. At the time, part of me felt that I was possessed by her spirit and that there were certain destructive behaviors that were manifestations of her possession. Pitchfork: How so? SS: Oh man, it's so hard to describe what was going on. It's almost like the force, or the matrix, or something: I started to believe that I was genetically, habitually, chemically predisposed to her pattern of destruction. I think a lot of the acting-out was rebellion, or maybe it was a way for me to… ah, this is so fucked up, I should probably go to therapy. In lieu of her death, I felt a desire to be with her, so I felt like abusing drugs and alcohol and fucking around a lot and becoming reckless and hazardous was my way of being intimate with her. But I quickly learned that you don't have to be incarcerated by suffering, and that, in spite of the dysfunctional nature of your family, you are an individual in full possession of your life. I came to realize that I wasn't possessed by her, or incarcerated by her mental illness. We blame our parents for a lot of shit, for better and for worse, but it's symbiotic. Parenthood is a profound sacrifice.

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