Righteous men of the earth
Oh have you been patient
I suppose our thoughts about United Nations

Adlai, Adlai
What did he say
And what is the answer

1952 the heart was not your master
The accident you knew
Would carry with your laughter

Evidence, evidence
I've heard of it
And what is the answer

Adlai, Adlai
What did he say
And what is the answer

Lyrics submitted by artblot, edited by studaman

"Adlai Stevenson" as written by Sufjan Stevens

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Adlai Stevenson song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commentwho is this? well doesn't sound very good but P.S. whoever
    these people are I love them awesome music (even if i've never herd it) I LOVE THIS SONG!!!!!
    Icantspellon April 17, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFirst off, I want to say what an amazing artist Sufjan Stevens is, if he keeps this up he will be the Bob Dylan of our generation. I have spent all summer in Germany and if there is one artist I can give them that best describes what America really is all about, it's Mr. Stevens.

    This song though also happens to be about one of my favorite politicans of all time. Artblot was right when saying the accident was about when he accidently shot a friend that he forever haunted him for the rest of his life and willed him to do great things in his life.

    I believe the lines "What did he say? What is the answer?" refer to when he was asking Soviet Leaders during a conference if they had built Nuclear Missles in Cuba. When he asked the question, he did not wait for a translation but demanded an outright answer from the Soviets themselves.

    I'm a Republican, and I still think he was an amazing man.

    One quote that sticks out showing his complete honesty was when one person came up to him and said "That any thinking man would vote for you." and Mr. Stevenson said back "Thank you, but I need a majority to win."
    IamSteveTayloron July 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this man....the meaning is fairly obvious just by looking up Adlai Stevenson, and it's a beautiful first look at the upcoming outtakes album! All Sufjan fans rejoice!
    tybeeson April 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHear it now Free! iguessimfloating.blogspot.com/2006/04/…
    tybeeson April 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe accident mentioned in the song is probably referring to Adlai accidently shooting someone when he was young. Supposedly the immense guilt he felt from this motivated him to try and do things for good.
    artbloton April 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSurjan Stevens is nice.
    newshaon April 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUnfortunately there are some lyrics missing on this page here they are: =)
    (from the Avalanche liner notes)
    "Ad-a-lay, ad-a-lay, your holiday
    The Greatest of Man, sir."

    too good of a line to get lost, if you ask me.
    bluebarquentineon July 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSufjan put another version of this song on a Kill Rock Stars compilation called The Sound the Hare Heard. Here's what he said about the song in the liner notes:

    "I wrote quite a few oblique homage pieces that never made it on the Illinois album, including a brief meditation for Adlai Stevenson, Illinois' beloved governor, presidential hopeful, UN ambassador, healthy Unitarian, and the great American voice of conscience. Today you might call him Obama's saintly predecessor. Or the last man of political virtue. In my research, of course, I was much more interested in his one biographical blemish: as a boy he accidentally killed a childhood friend with a rifle. Very little has been written about this incident, but it has been said that its ramifications could be felt in his political benevolence, in his empathy for those less fortunate, and in his lifelong effort to serve others."

    Man, those liner notes were tiny. Also, when i die, I'd like Sufjan to write my obituary.
    chopwoodon September 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentin a town next to detroit there is a high school named adlai stevenson high school. i know he grew up in petsokey, but perhaps he got the idea from the high school name?
    robinbabuon October 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is why Sufjan is a genius.

    You know, I (most of the time) can't stand it when people write literary biographies about people they never knew. You can't take someone elses life and write it in a way as if you understand *coughdaveeggerswhatisthewhatcough* but when Sufjan takes real people he never knew and writes songs, man, they just...there isn't a word for this. They're just great, moving, full of feeling in this distant, warm, loving, light way.
    blueoftheskyon April 09, 2007   Link

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