John Wayne Gacy, Jr was a monster who raped and killed 33 boys and young men. Sufjan Stevens’ song about him like many of his songs sound sweet but the lyrics are quite different. Just like Casimir Pulaski Day, this song is quite deceptive and if you listen closely to the lyrics they are quite chilling.
His father was a drinker
And his mother cried in bed
Folding John Wayne’s T-shirts
When the swingset hit his head
The neighbors they adored him
For his humor and his conversation
Look underneath the house there
Find the few living things
Rotting fast in their sleep of the dead
Twenty-seven people, even more
They were boys with their cars, summer jobs
Oh my God
Are you one of them?
He dressed up like a clown for them
With his face paint white and red
And on his best behavior
In a dark room on the bed he kissed them all
He’d kill ten thousand people
With a sleight of his hand
Running far, running fast to the dead
He took of all their clothes for them
He put a cloth on their lips
Quiet hands, quiet kiss
On the mouth
And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid
I don’t have anything insightful to add, other than the song is probably one of his best songs from any of the albums. The last verse…woof.
The song is definitely a beautiful peice of music and that almost serves only to heighten the tragedy of the lyrics! the story of John Wayne Gacy is appauling and sick and Sufjan Stevens does have that beautiful voice and the ability to write lyrics that makes the song still beautiful! It amazing how close the original story. down to the swingset, neighbours and the boys with their cars
a beautiful song. makes you think inside the mind of a serial killer- John Wayne Gacy. Also the last verse is a perfect finish to the song. It means that we all have secrets. Like this muderer did but of course not as bad. I really do reccomend you getting a hold of this song.
What grabbed me about this song is the singing. I do believe that Sufan’s vocals on John Wayne Gacy are the deepest expression of grief that I have ever heard coming from a human being.
I’ve chosen to study this for an English module entitled ‘telling the truth’. This is such a stunning song- I was shocked, almost repulsed when I bothered to listen to the lyrics of this song- Sufjan makes a sick story so real and, yes, beautiful.
No one else could produce a song that provokes you to empathise with a killer like this. In the end, its the confronting truth that we are all human beings with faults and past mistakes that really gets to me.
I would reccomend it for so many reasons.
To me the song was not about feeling empathy for the killer but instead I felt he was sad for the boys that got killed or hurt by him and how he tricked them into trusting him. In the last lines, I felt he was saying that there are times we have all done something that someone else would feel bad about or not understand if they found out about it.