"The Mistress Witch From McClure (or the mind that knows itself)" by Sufjan Stevens may just be my favorite song of all time, or at least for the past 2 years.
I'd had the album since its release in 2006. It sat in my iTunes library overshadowed by the Greetings From Michigan and Come On Feel the Illinoise albums he'd released prior. The Avalanche, the album The Mistress resides on, is an album of outtakes from Come On Feel the Illinoise. Outtakes. It doesn't make you want to put the album on repeat. But I should have known better.
Sufjan Stevens is one of those uber-prolific songwriters. I'm sure he has mountains of songs at home that are 10 times better than I could ever write. His goal was to create an album for every state. So far, he's just released Michigan and Illinois and seems to have been sidetracked lately. Which is too bad. I really want my Minnesota album.
The Avalanche album is filled with different versions of songs off of Illinois and a couple of leftover tracks. "The Mistress Witch From McClure" is one of those leftover tracks.
I don't know what it is about the song. Lyrically, it means nothing to me. It seems to be about kids who discover their father having an affair. But who knows really. It's really the melody and the vocals. Like most of his songs, their is a beautiful backing choir. It makes me stop what I'm doing and just listen. There are a couple of other songs that do this to me. The first two that come to mind are "Superman" by Dan Bern and "Second Intermission" by Ani Difranco. I have yet to research to see if there is a special note or group of notes of sort that are sung or played in each song that has some sort of mental effect on me. But with all of these songs, my mind automatically clears out and I just have to listen. It's all very strange.
So one day I was working with my headphones on and this song came on and it just caught me. I think I listened to it about 5 times in a row right then and there.
For whatever reason, "The Mistress Witch From McClure" wins my heart. I have linked a solo live version via You Tube for you to check out. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a full linkable album version online.
I hope you enjoy as much as I do!