You may not be privy to the subject of Sufjan’s latest single. Tonya Harding was an American figure skater who enthralled a nation and switched so many hearts and minds form traditional sports to the spellbinding feat of figure skating.
With that all in mind it does still seem an odd choice for a protagonist. Ina an essay accompanying the song Sufjan describes Harding as “America’s sweetheart with a dark twist.” He writes, “Tonya shines bright in the pantheon of American history simply because she never stopped trying her hardest. She fought classism, sexism, physical abuse and public rebuke to become an incomparable American legend.”
The single precedes a forthcoming documentary on the cult figure but Sufjan notes that he isn’t connected with the production though he did offer the song to its director.
Beyond all that, the song is beautiful piece and set as it is to one of Harding’s performance in the video, it leaves us feeling entirely enchanted by both the track and the cult icon.