Hear Sufjan Stevens’ Amazing Song About Tonya Harding

Sufjan Stevens is on a winning streak. He recently put out an album of b-sides, penned music for a movie, and now he’s just released a captivating song about American ice skating star Tonya Harding.

Harding was a superstar in the 90’s, becoming world famous for her impressive performances on the ice. But she hit an all-time low when her boyfriend hired someone to take out her main ice skating rival Nancy Kerrigan. Harding’s boyfriend hired a stuntman to club Nancy Kerrigan in the knee during the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, taking her out of action and causing a media frenzy.

Harding was then banned from the U.S. Figure Skating Association for life, dashing her dreams of Olympic glory. She went on to release a sex tape with her husband, tried boxing, raced vintage automobiles, and was a reality star before her time.

Sufjan Stevens wrote a blog accompanying the song, saying, “I’ve been trying to write a Tonya Harding song since I first saw her skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1991. She’s a complicated subject for a song partly because the hard facts of her life are so strange, disputable, heroic, unprecedented, and indelibly American.”

He adds, “I admit, early drafts of this song contained more than a few puns, punch lines and light-hearted jabs—sex tapes and celebrity boxing make for an entertaining narrative arc. But the more I edited, and the more I meditated, and the more I considered the wholeness of the person of Tonya Harding, I began to feel a conviction to write something with dignity and grace, to pull back the ridiculous tabloid fodder and take stock of the real story of this strange and magnificent America hero.”

Sufjan calls Tonya “my American princess” and a “shining American star” in the song, and hearing his take on her rise and fall is mesmerising when you watch her spin through her dramatic routine at the same time. The release is also perfectly timed, as the movie ‘I, Tonya’ has just been released in the States (featuring Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding).

Watch the song’s video below: