Sometimes I would also like to tell those people who have so much to say about what they have done for our country: “Don’t do to me what you have done to Spain”
Certain individuals are making it increasingly difficult to identify oneself as an admirer of U.S. culture and of such a defective, vulgar, arrogant and, at times, alien society as ours can be. One does not look at the culture of a place to see oneself reflected, though, but simply to see. The U.S. is currently reeling and rapper Kanye West has announced his presidential candidacy without the slightest plan for the race. It is not strange either, because he said that he would run on a TV show in 2015, and then he clarified he meant 2020 and later, 2024. It has also happened with his albums, because religious services are West’s latest quest: he presents divine gospel services on Instagram. His faith is real and that is why his next work will be called God’s Country, as though the Most High prefers human groups over individuals. Not making any splash compared to the rapper, unfortunately, one of the country’s most exceptional singers, Sufjan Stevens, just released a song. Entitled “America,” it was written six years ago, but it reads like a letter written the day before yesterday to his country that “in God trusts”– a poem in which Stevens also talks to God, from a different point of view than Kanye’s.
On the 12-minute track, Sufjan addresses a seemingly omnipotent being in the second person: “Don’t do to me what you did to America,” he says to the other person[https://genius.com/Sufjan-stevens-america-lyrics]. “I have loved you, I have grieved. I’m ashamed to admit I no longer believe,” states the artist, one of the brightest stars on the American music scene, who conceived the project of recording an album for each state in his country. Although he stopped at two – “Michigan” (2003) and “Illinois” (2005) – the second one is striking because it speaks more of serial killers than of local glories. In his new song, Stevens contemplates a world that is falling apart and the enormous disappointment he feels in the face of it. “I have loved you like a dream,” he says and we do not know if he is talking about God, America, or both. “I have put my hands in the wounds on your side/I have tasted of your blood/I have choked on the waters, I abated the flood/I am broken, I am beat,” Stevens said. He changes the refrain and ends by saying, “Don’t do to me what you do to yourself.” Sometimes I would also like to tell those people who have so much to say about what they have done for our country: “Don’t do to me what you have done to Spain.”
In any event, it would be difficult for Kanye to come up with lyrics with such a heavy poetic weight. Because God’s followers ask him for things, and West uses God to deliver his sermons and to gain greater glory for himself. In Sufjan Steven’s case, his intention is just the opposite: he is asking God to be more merciful with his destiny than with the country’s. Thus, it is with that kind of verse that “America” has been made great. Not with a red cap containing a weak written promise.