Indie star Sufjan Stevens’ “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” is probably the most complex song ever written about a serial killer. The song, from Stevens’ Illinois album, presents the Chicago killer as a multidimensional character and, while not openly sympathetic, definitely plays in shades of gray rather than black and white. In the end, Stevens’ confession that, with the secrets in his own closet, “I am really just like him,” is creepy enough to produce goosebumps.
Brooklyn indie dance group Rubblebucket recently decided to cover the gem for The Voice Project. Although they were hesitant to play such a sad song for the peace movement project, they felt that Stevens’ attempt “to penetrate to the humanity of the situation” is similar to the understanding needed for real change in Africa. The song starts with a sax/trumpet part that is a little overpowering due to the live recording, but after that initial blast the harmonies of Annakalmia Traver and Alex Toth take over. Toth in particular bolsters Traver’s voice with a strong falsetto. When Traver and Toth return to their instruments the sound is much better, leading nicely into the final stanza. The song has a jazzy feel and loses the punch of Stevens’ dark original, but it’s definitely a pleasant-sounding adaptation. Watch the video below to hear for yourself.
Rubblebucket – John Wayne Gacy Jr. (Sufjan Stevens cover)