Fresh off the release of his two gorgeous original songs for Call Me By Your Name, weepy music man Sufjan Stevens has released a brand new track for the film I, Tonya, and—hmm, wait...I’m receiving word that this song, entitled “Tonya Harding,” is not actually related to the film I, Tonya at all. Their shared release week is merely a coincidence.
The song, which you can hear above (or on Spotify, where he dropped two versions), is a sparkling and ethereal elegy for Harding’s career and reputation that laments her tragic downfall—one that, despite the extent of her involvement, is inextricably linked to lifetime of abuse, poverty, and the savage court of public opinion. “They’ll build you a castle,” Stevens sings, “then destroy it when they’re done.”
The song begins:
Tonya Harding, my star
Well this world is a cold one, but it takes one to know one
And god only knows what you are
Just some Portland white trash
You confronted your sorrow like there was no tomorrow
While the rest of the world only laughed
While his lyrics are often painfully on the nose (“while this world is a bitch, girl, don’t end up in a ditch, girl), Stevens’s earnestness is undeniable. He even published an accompanying essay detailing his decades-long work crafting the song.
“At the end of the day, Tonya Harding was just an ordinary woman with extraordinary talent and a tireless work ethic who set out to do her very best,” he writes. “She did that and more. I hope the same can be said of us all.”