Today, July 1, on his birthday, Sufjan Stevens is releasing two alternate versions of his song, “Fourth of July.” Listen here, or you can pre-order a red 7-inch with these two songs here or with your preferred record store. A Fourth of July T-shirt is available here, and a bundle including the shirt, the 7-inch, The Greatest Gift, the Carrie & Lowell Live 12-inch single, and of course the Carrie & Lowell LP is available here.
Both versions were recorded around 2014: “Fourth of July (April Base Version)” was recorded in Eau Claire, WI at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio, and “Fourth of July (DUMBO Version)” was recorded in Sufjan’s old studio in Brooklyn, NY.
The original version of “Fourth of July” appeared on Sufjan’s 2015 album, Carrie & Lowell. As is (and was) his custom, Sufjan would often rework different versions of his songs while recording an album, and “Fourth of July” was no exception. (Other versions & remixes of the song were released on “The Greatest Gift” mixtape and on the “Exploding Whale” 7” single.) These two latest versions were recently found on old harddrives. The refrain of the song, “We’re all gonna die,” invokes a meditation on human mortality and fragility, even as it acts as an anchor of stoic hope. Its solemnity invites listeners to feel comfort, connection — even joy — wrought from great pain and loss.
The song has recently had a resurgence with listeners — which may speak to a deep national grief and sense of loss. As we head into this Fourth of July weekend — a U.S. holiday marked by war (and death) — let us reflect on what it means to live in fullness in the face of death.
The limited run physical 7-inch in red will be released in December 2022, which marks the 10-year anniversary of Carrie’s death. Hear the songs here, or below.