The Avalanche

Release date
11 Jul 2006
Running length
21 tracks
Running time


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    Track     Duration Listeners
1 The Avalanche 3:14 126,136
2 Dear Mr. Supercomputer 4:20 101,757
3 Adlai Stevenson 1:51 91,452
4 The Vivian Girls Are Visited In The Night By Saint Dargarius 1:49 10,678
5 The Henney Buggy Band 3:17 101,797
5 Chicago (acoustic version) 4:41 111,035
6 Saul Bellow 2:54 90,389
7 The Mistress Witch From McClure (Or The Mind That Knows Itself) 3:24 7,431
8 Carlyle Lake 3:15 84,265
9 Kaskaskia River 2:15 79,614
9 Springfield Or Bobby Got A Shadfly Caught In His Hair 4:17 6,481
10 Inaugural Pop Music for Jane Margaret Byrne 1:25 72,766
11 Chicago (adult contemporary easy listening version) 6:07 75,456
12 No Man's Land 4:45 82,972
13 The Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake 1:38 70,511
14 The Pick Up 3:24 9,236
15 The Perpetual Self Or What Would Saul Alinky Do 2:24 5,921
16 For Clyde Tombaugh 3:43 63,675
17 Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version) 4:35 65,033
18 The Undivided Self (for Eppie and Popo) 5:00 54,712
19 Pittsfield 6:52 70,176

About this album

The little secret behind the Illinois record is that it was originally conceived as a double album, culminating in a musical collage of nearly 50 songs. But as the project began to develop into an unwieldy epic, common sense weighed in—as did the opinions of others—and the project was cut in half. But as 2005 came to a close, Sufjan returned to the old, forsaken songs on his 8-track like a grandfather remembering his youth, indulging in old journals and newspaper clippings. What he uncovered went beyond the merits of nostalgia; it was more like an ensemble of capricious friends and old acquaintances wearing party outfits, waiting to be let in at the front door, for warm drinks and interesting conversation. Among them were Saul Bellow, Ann Landers, Adlai Stevenson, and a brief cameo from Henry Darger’s Vivian Girls. The gathering that followed would become the setting for the songs on The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album.

Sufjan gleaned 21 useable tracks from the abandoned material, including three alternate versions of Chicago. Some songs were in finished form, others were merely outlines, gesture drawings, or musical scribbles mumbled on a hand-held tape recorder. Most of the material required substantial editing, new arrangements or vocals. Much of the work was done at the end of 2005 or in January the following year. Sufjan invited many of the original Illinoisemakers to fill in the edges: drums, trumpet, a choir of singers.

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  • shineslikegold

    damn it every single one of my tags is wrong

    15 Jun 2011 Reply
  • brittpinkie

    I love that this is a collection of "outtakes" yet it still feels like a solid album to me. Bravo, Sufjan :)

    8 Jan 2011 Reply
  • GregoryYasar

    Sufjan Stevens is just lazy. Fuck that guy. He's boring to me now too.

    31 Dec 2010 Reply
  • plutoTheExile23

    I don't care what To Kill a Mockingbird says, Sufjan should take pride in his god given songwriting talents

    23 Nov 2010 Reply
  • donpablo73

    ... but are so damn good anyway... to me there's no B-Sides concerning Sufjan Stevens...

    25 Mar 2009 Reply
  • osmark

    this feels less a b-side album than a collection of songs that just didn't fit in the mix of illinoise.

    9 Mar 2009 Reply
  • everxshexflows

    I love so much the 3 extra versions of chicago, as well

    29 Jul 2008 Reply
  • LAC6589

    I love the different versions of Chicago on this album. When I first noticed that there were 3 versions of the same song I wasn't sure that it would be good but each version is completley different and completley amazing. Sufjan Stevens is an incredible artist.

    24 Apr 2008 Reply
  • mckickflip

    this is way too good to be a b-side album.

    19 Apr 2008 Reply
  • foster_UK

    I'm sure I'm not alone in preferring this to Illinois. Had this been put on the same album as illinois I think it would probably be my favourite album ever, without illinois it is still one of the best.

    11 Mar 2008 Reply
  • jooble

    This stuff's amazing. Illinois was originally meant to be a double album with this being the other half. Beats me how you could write an album as good as Illinois, let alone two of them at the same time. First two tracks are my favourites.

    21 Feb 2008 Reply
  • Juanba12

    The best Sufjan album...I Think

    18 Feb 2008 Reply
  • Micjen

    This album is essential listening for anyone who enjoyed Illinois. Some of the tracks on this album should have been included in Illinois, namely 'The Henney Buggy Band' and 'Adlai Stevenson'. The alternate takes of Chicago are excellent as well.

    12 Dec 2007 Reply