“Will Anybody Ever Love Me,” by Sufjan Stevens, is a song about a quest. The ultimate aim is to experience love – an honest, authentic love – so, another journey, really.
Various landscapes are traversed in the music video, and each landscape has a portal to another landscape, and the journey goes on.
This isn’t a “Road Not Taken” story. It’s not even a “God is my Co-Pilot” story, which implies that the driver is usually in control and choosing direction, and God just kind of guides or takes over when necessary. Stevens sings, at one point, “tie me to a raft, and let me go.” The road may sometimes be chosen, but just as often involves following the current. The quest is the same, though – there’s love, just waiting for a catalyst, and, sadly, not yet finding any.
Hope remains, though.
When you stop hoping, you don’t even ask the question anymore. Without hope, you don’t sing the song. Without hope, you stop reaching out. This song is a way of reaching out, of asking someone to see the light in you, and to recognize how it may align with the light in them.
There is strength in this. A willingness to be open, to be vulnerable, to admit to yearning and having a need for love, is a sign of strength of spirit. Chances are that there are others who share the yearning for love, and among them, maybe, there may be someone who – from the center of their being – will see the invitation within the song.
I would listen to this song while on a long drive, across time zones, through prairies, on ferries, and through mountain passes, and on highways bounded by tall trees. It has a folk feel to it, with acoustic guitar in the forefront, but also some synthesizer and studio touches that help to express the idea of journey and transition, of a sense of experiencing life as much a passenger as a seeker.
It’s a songwriter’s song, as much as it is a personal song, because songwriters are seekers of love, of an audience, so that they can continue to generate their art and pursue their passion. It’s a road trip song, of the best kind – one that is honest about what lies deep within, and what truly drives a person to move forward (or be brought along).
Sufjan Stevens is not new to the music industry.
He has released 10 studio albums, over a period of more than 20 years. “Will Anybody Ever Love Me” shows that he has not allowed himself to become a cynic, he has not been jaded through the years. Although he acknowledges that people do, at times, try to forge relationships primarily for their own benefit or their perception of what will meet their needs, he still hopes for authentic relationship, for love that connects at the core.
Keeping your humanity intact, in that way, must be key to sustaining your art over time, as well.