"Futile Devices" as written by and Sufjan Stevens....
It's been a long, long time
Since I've memorized your face
It's been four hours now
Since I've wandered through your place
And when I sleep on your couch
I feel very safe
And when you bring the blankets
I cover up my face

I do
Love you
I do
Love you

And when you play guitar
I listen to the strings buzz
The metal vibrates underneath your fingers
And when you crochet
I feel mesmerized and proud

And I would say I love you
But saying it out loud is hard
So I won't say it at all
And I won't stay very long

But you are life I needed all along
I think of you as my brother
Although that sounds dumb

And words are futile devices


Lyrics submitted by gupac

"Futile Devices" as written by Sufjan Stevens

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Futile Devices song meanings
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35 Comments

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  • +12
    General CommentMy first impression was that this was about a former lover, or even an estranged lover. Now I wonder if he is singing to someone who has always been a platonic friend. For many single people, the most important relationships in their lives are friendships, not love affairs. How many of us fail to tell our best friends how much we love them?

    This song, this whole album, is just beautiful.
    sushisouschefon October 12, 2010   Link
  • +6
    General Commenti think he is gay but doesn't want to be too precise about it, since as an artist you get easily reduced to your homosexuality and before you know it, "gay" is the first thing that comes to people's minds when they hear your name, not your music.
    but he still doesn't want to completely deny his identity and probably finds it goofy to write a song about a boy and then to just replace every "he" with a "she".

    i'm just wondering if he wouldn't try to avoid all this ambiguity, if he was actually straight. but maybe it's just too much fun for him to follow such silly discussions as this one ;)

    the age of adz is beautiful, btw.
    LaszloPanaflexon October 17, 2010   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationI do not think this song is written from the perspective of a lover to Sufjan, and that it is definitely written from Sufjan's perspective. The speaker has great admiration for the subject of the song. He is "mesmerized" by the person, "proud" of him/her, and is completely in love with this person. It would seem quite conceited if Sufjan wrote this song from the perspective of someone else to himself. Just because Sufjan palys guitar and crochets does not mean he is the object of admiration. Rather, his love of guitar and crocheting would make his admiration of this lover even greater.

    On a side note: Sufjan's sexuality is irrelevant in this song. The theme is Sufjan's inability to express his love and admiration of another person with words because they are only futile devices. Whether or not his lover is a man or a woman has no affect on the theme.
    drinkinghorchataon January 25, 2011   Link
  • +5
    General CommentWhy are you all in such denial that Sufjan could be gay or bisexual? Obviously no one can know for sure unless he comes out, but do you really think he would make so many of his lyrics so sexually ambiguous if he was straight? You guys seem really desperate to rationalize away the gay undertones in this and several other of his songs.

    The theory that Futile Devices is about platonic love directly contradicts some of the heavily romantic lyrics. If you love someone in a platonic way, why would you "memorize their face"? That clearly indicates physical attraction.

    I also disagree with the theory that the song is written from someone else's perspective or that the perspective changes midway through the song. Sufjan does crochet, yes, but don't you think that the reason he's "proud" could be because he taught the other person how to crochet? Also -- lots of people play guitar besides Sufjan. There is simply not enough information provided for anyone to reasonably assume that line is written about Sufjan from his lover's perspective.

    I think I've made my point -- y'all should at least entertain the possibility that he could be gay.
    elephanteyelashon October 30, 2010   Link
  • +5
    General Commentbeing happy and almost satisfied enough with just a secret unrequited love.

    BECAUSE YOU ARE THE LIFE THAT I NEEDED ALL ALONG

    that's what it means to me.
    ireallylikebagelson November 03, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI realize that a lot of the conversation on this song deals with Sufjan's sexual orientation. Yet, while this album is supposed to be much more deeply personal than his "state albums," I don't feel that this is entirely what is important in the song. This song marks an abrupt change in the style of his lyrics. Yes, on the surface, the comment to the person being referred to as a brother consists of the words being referred to as "futile," but I think that what this song is indicating is the reason for the change in his lyrics. We have all read that he suffered an existential crisis between Illinois and Age of Adz, and I think what is being indicated is his loss of confidence in the power of words, which is why this record is so much more sparsely written than his older ones--he is sick of people talking so much and saying nothing. Words have become futile in some way. And it would also explain the drastic change in the style of the song titles.
    adonnellyron November 18, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIt's incredibly homophobic that people freak out at the mere suggestion that Sufjan's songs contain homosexual desire.
    Saying it out loud is hard.
    snailsandacokeon October 24, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentPeople are having such a hard time denying all homoerotic interpretation Sufjan's songs could have. If they're not from the perspective of a woman it's about Jesus. Come on!
    CoobyMXon October 14, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentit's an outing, guys. accept it.
    LaszloPanaflexon October 14, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSo regardless of which sex he is referencing in the song, I think it is about being with someone for quite some time and in the beginning you memorize their face, where beauty marks are, etc. And this song is a realization that after some time, he is still very much in love with this person but cannot express it as it is useless even trying. So he writes this song instead to express. And as for the brother part, maybe it is because he has been with the individual for a lengthy amount of time so it feels like they've grown up together in many ways. Like they have always been there. Like a sibling. I don't think this song is about Jesus and it shouldn't matter about which gender it is about though the obvious use of brother gives it a male connotation.
    Lovelylaikaon November 06, 2010   Link

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